it was expected that the bonds would sell readily. But early in 1867 the Bank of California syndicate began to perceive that the Sutro Tunnel, delivering ore at the Carson River mills and mining supplies nearly two thousand feet below the surface, might very easily destroy their control of the Comstock and its dependent industries. Therefore they declared war, and opened hostilities. Stewart resigned; subscriptions were all withdrawn; shrewd lawyers and politicians were employed to obtain the repeal of the franchise and of the act of Congress; financiers in New York and Europe were warned not to touch Sutro bonds.
Years after Sutro said in conversation: "Ah, it was a hard thing to have so many old friends in San Francisco and Virginia City actually afraid to be seen talking to me after the fiat had gone forth that I must be crushed at any cost. But I kept on fighting. There was one time, I remember, when I had to go to Washington to save my interests from destruction. I had no money. All the profits of my mill had been swallowed up. But I had a lot in a little California town, and I sold it for two hundred dollars, and with that I managed to get to Washington. I stayed there somehow that winter, poor as I was, and fought my enemies, and came out ahead. But their newspapers said I had bribed Congress—out of my two hundred dollars!"
After making the most strenuous efforts Sutro failed to place his bonds. In 1869, turning for help to the working miners, he delivered a remarkable address in Virginia City. Large cartoons illustrated his bitter eloquence. One showed Bill Sharon's Big Woodpile, another Bill Sharon's Crooked Railroad, a third the then recent fire in Yellow Jacket, where forty-two lives had been lost that might have been saved had the Sutro Tunnel existed. He appealed to the miners' unions for stock subscriptions with which to begin work. "Will the people of Nevada see me crushed out now?. . . Come in together. Let two thousand laboring men pay in ten dollars apiece a month, and insure the construction of the tunnel, carrying with it the control of the mines. . . . From dependents you will be masters." With such sentences he addressed the working miners of the Comstock, who actually raised fifty thousand dollars in a few weeks, and on October 19th resolute Sutro broke ground in his great undertaking. Nevertheless the tunnel was steadily opposed by the California and Nevada Senators and by nearly all the mining men on the Comstock. The history of the long struggle is embalmed in the pages of the Congressional Record and innumerable public documents. Sutro bonds were finally sold, but the difficulties of the undertaking proved greater than had been expected, and the period of the bonanzas passed before the lode was reached.