Secret Nob Hill Tunnel From Old Crocker Mansion To California and Powell : LUSENET : San Francisco History : One Thread

When the old Crocker mansion was destroyed and Grace Cathedral was being built in its place, a secret well made tunnel was discovered that went from the old Crocker mansion all the way down to California and then down Powell. There was no tunnel exit so the thought was that maybe the tunnel was not completed. Does anyone know what the ultimate destination of that tunnel was and what it's purpose was? Also, how was it possible to make such a tunnel in secret? There must have been a mountain of dirt to extract since it is about 3 long blocks from Grace Cathedral to Powell. Is anyone from the Crocker family living today who has an email address that might shed some light on this great mystery.

-- Harry Murphy (harrymurphy*, March 10, 2003


I'm guessing either Red Rock Hill or Gold Mine Hill. After all, that was a place that was not only for smuggling but also owned by the Crockers.

-- Sean M. Hall (, March 10, 2003.

Hello, My name is Deacon Crocker Iam a direct decendant and named after the original Crocker who came to america in the 1630's I am twenty two years old and am from Cape Cod Massachusetts. However Iam currently living in Santa Barbara California with my girlfriend. I have just started researching my families background and am amazed at at the wealth of information on Charles and Edwin Crocker. Unfortenatley I do not have an answer for the tunnel mystery. Although I had heard about it back home from my grandfather perhaps he knows. I dont know if you have any information on my family but if you do I would love to correspond with you My girlfriends email adress is And my mailing adress is 2022 Cliff Drive Box 171 Santa Barbara CA 93109 I thankyou for your tim and sincerely hope to hear from you. Sincereley Deacon James Crocker PS if you have instant messenger my screename is DCbuckslayer all on word.

-- Deacon James Crocker (, April 22, 2003.

There is no tunnel along California and Powell Streets, other than the small cable car cable slots. There is no tunnel near the Crocker mansion site, but there was one a block further east. It ran across/beneath California Street from the 1886 Flood mansion (now the Pacific-Union Club) to the Robert Hamilton mansion, opposite. The brick arched tunnel was 9 feet wide and 8 feet tall. Its use is unknown. - Another large vault (not tunnel) was discovered in 1982 during the rebuild of the cable car system. It was located beneath California Street just east of Larkin Street, in front of the original site of the 1878 California Street cable car barn/powerhouse, and was part of that operation.

Michael Lampen, Archivist, Grace Cathedral

-- Michael D. Lampen (, July 09, 2003.

The tunnel in question was a service tunnel. That's all. It evokes mystery & enthusiasm only from those who do not understand its purpose.

Occaisionally, members of the families used it to travel between the two homes, however, similar to Geo Whittell's place (Tahoe) it was used in times of discretionary measures.

When the homes were demolished, the usage became obsolete. Dirt simply provided infill, & the connection was blocked.

Several estates of that era (nationwide) had similar tunnels- usually leading from the "service" area of the property to the main structure.

There are passages/vaults that exist to-day, but are mainly used as cold storage, similar to the bunkers at the Presidio.

Hope this helps.


-- Mathew S Irwin (, August 14, 2004.

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