Places | Earth

A Profound Desert Monument, or the Most Useless Tunnel in the World?

Burro was regarded by his contemporaries as a crazy person.



William Henry “Burro” Schmidt

took thirty-eight years to hand dig this

half-mile long tunnel—completed in 1938

born in Rhode Island, January 30, 1871

died in Ridgecrest, Calif., January 27, 1954

California’s Gold

Well, he came up with the idea of building a tunnel starting a tunnel

through the mountain to make transportation

for the train lines for the ore more expeditious and less expensive

and once he got into the actual tunnel-building he kind of lost sight of the ore

and the process of getting the gold to the market and just got consumed

with the idea of finishing this tunnel through the mountain

beforeyou run like the dickens.

over through

We search out the most perfect pieces of rock

you’re taking these

random rock formations and you’re bringing to it this interaction

it transforms it from being

this random rock into almost this

piece of art it’s almost like a sculpture or something

Now I understand the width of the world.



A poem is useless as a tunnel is useless.

A poem tunnels for its own joy.

We gain a moment of joy by climbing through it.

it follows the most interesting, aesthetic, and memorable path from point A to point B.

When his six brothers and sisters had all died of consumption

in his birthplace of Providence, William “Burro” Schmidt

escaped to the desert of California

to begin his life’s work . . .