Tahoe Timber Under Virginia City

This 1876 illustration by T.L. Dawes always reminds me of an Ant Farm; a subterranean profile of tunnels filled with industry. Something else it reminds me of is the source of all that timber; the interlocking blocks—called square sets—strong enough to support the roof and side walls of these manmade caverns. Dan De Quille knew where the timber came from: the old-growth forest of the Tahoe Basin. He explained in The Big Bonanza (1876), “The Comstock Lode may truthfully be said to be the tomb of the forests of the Sierras.” (Image courtesy of the Library of Congress.)

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