The Story of Tecolote Tunnel

One of the most fascinating elements of the Cachuma Lake Project is Tecolote Tunnel, a seven-foot diameter, six-mile long pipeline, bored straight through the mountains in the 1950s.

The tunnel, which brings water from Lake Cachuma to the coast, required years of work, and gained the reputation as a "snarling vicious tiger." Work was stopped repeatedly by massive flooding in the tunnel, extreme temperatures as high as 111°, dangerous levels of methane gas, and hard rock that shifted and crushed support beams.

100-degree tunnel temperatures, aggravated by 117-degree water from underground fissures, forced Tecolote Tunnel workers to be transported in "bathtubs"—mine cars filled with cool water. These "baths" were used by the overheated men to cool themselves by riding up to their necks in water, fully clothed.