Saturday, May 26, 2007

Archaeology on the route of the Transcontinental Railroad


Has any archaeology been done on the route of the Transcontinental Railroad or the worker camps associated with its construction, including Chinese ones?

—Lois Huey, children's writer, Albany, NY

CP #210 Locomotive at Acton

From: Larry Mullaly

I recently came across a very interesting photo on the Santa Clarita Valley History website.

The photograph captures an immaculate ten-wheeler, CP #210, at the point of a small construction train in Soledad Canyon. I would date the picture as July-August 1876. Once the San Fernando Tunnel was opened up, leased CP motive power seems largely to have been pulled off this portion of the Southern Pacific.

I wonder if the following interpretation holds up: A pile trestle across a desert wash has just been completed by the bridge crew (note the absence of Chinese workers). The photograph records the removal of redwood-tie cribbing that had earlier supported the roadbed during the line's initial construction. The donkey-powered derrick crane that may also have served as a pile driver.

Comments would be welcome!