Friday, September 16, 2005

CPRR daily track laying records, 1868-1869

California Zephyr

The last regularly scheduled passenger train down the Feather River was the California Zephyr – in 1970 when it ended service. Amtrak's route has always been over Donner, in part to serve Reno (which is not on the old Western Pacific mainline).

Kyle K. Wyatt
Curator of History & Technology
California State Railroad Museum
111 "I" Street
Sacramento, CA 95814

[from the R&LHS Newsgroup.]

Winter not always a wonderland for trans-Sierra trains, by Mark McLaughlin, Sierra Sun

"Winter not always a wonderland for trans-Sierra trains," by Mark McLaughlin, © Sierra Sun, Truckee, CA, September 15, 2005. (News Article)

"For decades after Joseph Gray built a toll station and rest stop for travelers in 1863, residents of Truckee relied on the railroad ... Considering that winter travel over storm-wracked Donner Pass has been an ongoing operation for nearly 140 years, the number of trapped trains or prolonged snow blockades are relatively few. ... During the winter of 1867, 44 storms dumped nearly 45 feet of snow on the Sierra's upper west slope. One avalanche wiped out an entire work camp: When the bodies were discovered the following spring, work tools were still clutched in their frozen hands. Heavy snow the following year crushed hastily built snowsheds and again avalanches took many lives. In response to one slide that killed eight Chinese laborers on March 6, 1868, the Virginia City Territorial Enterprise observed "A great number of Chinese have been killed and crippled by accidents this winter at various points on the road." On March 12, a Wells Fargo agent reported "The white mantle is within two feet of the telegraph wires, making it 22 feet deep on the level." ... When the line was closed for 10 days in 1869 due to heavy snow, the railroad extended the "snow galleries" into an almost unbroken stretch of 40 miles between Blue Canyon and Truckee. Violent blizzards in February 1874 generated a series of destructive avalanches that crushed whole sections of snowsheds and stranded several passenger trains that had bogged down in the overwhelming snowdrifts. Despite valiant efforts by railroad crews to clear debris and plow the repaired sections of track, the line was blockaded for about five days. ... " [More]

[Courtesy Google Alerts.]