California Historic Civil
The Tioga Pass Road
Constructed 1883 & 1910
Tioga Pass at 9945 feet is the highest automobile pass in California. The road to the pass was
constructed in two parts. The first part was a wagon road, 56 miles long, going from Crane Flat on
the west side to a silver mine on the east slope of the Sierra Nevada. It was constructed in 1883 at
a cost of $61,000. This part terminated a short distance east of Tioga Pass. The mine was closed
the following year as it was not profitable.
Construction of the second part from Lee Vining on the east side to Tioga Pass was begun in 1902
and was completed in 1910 at a cost of $63,000. Considered a monument to the skill of the state
engineers, it was routed up Lee Vining Canyon and had a maximum grade of 7%. It was a narrow,
exciting road with a steep drop off to Lee Vining Creek below.
The original wagon road from Tioga Pass to Crane Flat, now a seldom used toll road, was purchased
by the director of the National Park Service, Stephen Mather in 1915 for $15,000. He donated it to
Yosemite National park. The Tioga Pass Road was now complete and automobiles started using it
As automobile traffic on the road increased, the need for improvements also increased. Because it
was an all dirt road until 1937, maintenance costs were very high. After extensive study the road
within Yosemite Park was completely rebuilt in 1961 at a cost of $7,000,000 . The Lee Vining grade
east of Tioga Pass and outside Yosemite was rebuilt from 1965 to 1970 at a cost of $6,600,000.
The Tioga Pass Road today is the most scenic mountain road in all of California and one of the most
beautiful park roads in the entire National Park system. This plaque is dedicated tot he engineers
and workmen that created and maintain this civil engineering masterpiece. It exists today for the use,
enjoyment and inspiration of all.