Friday, April 15, 2016

G.J. 'Chris' Graves, R.I.P.

From: "Karen Triest"

... I'm not sure how many of you are friends, or were friends of Chris Graves.

I wanted to let you know that Chris passed away on April 14, 2016, of natural causes. Chris was a wonderful historian, and touched so many of our lives in positive ways. He diligently worked on genealogy cases, changing many lives for the better. Chris loved his home and yard, and kept everything so green and beautiful year round. It is a very sad loss for us all. Chris will be buried in the Newcastle Cemetery, on the hill where he has a view of the foothills.

Please feel free to forward to those who knew and loved Chris as I did.


—Karen Triest, Loving Daughter

Chris Graves at Bloomer Cut

Chris Graves


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Our condolences. Chris will be missed.

4/15/2016 10:37 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

From: "Larry Mullaly"
Re: Chris Graves

Dear Karen,

I am so sorry to learn of the death of Chris. He was one of my most helpful contacts in matters of railroad history. We will miss his presence.

—Larry Mullaly

4/16/2016 11:12 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Chris is one of the experts on the construction of the CPRR. I will miss his wit and wisdom.

4/25/2016 11:02 AM  
Anonymous Bill George said...

Legacy of Chris Graves
By Bill George
The road was made more of dirt than gravel and rose precipitously toward the sky.
“We’re going up this?” I asked the 6 foot-8 inch grey haired man behind the wheel of the pickup truck.
“Well darn,” he roared as he revved the engine. “You wanted to see the old grade, didn’t you?”
And with that we were off on a rocket ride up the side of a mountain to a place called Troy, California. Dirt and gravel flew as we sashayed up the narrow road. Finally the truck came to a sliding halt on a narrow ledge thousands of feet high. Nearby were two abandoned tunnels carved out of Sierra granite during the 1860s, part of the original route of the Central Pacific Railroad.
It was just one of many days I spent in the Sierra Nevada with G.J. “Chris” Graves of Newcastle. When I got the idea to make a film about what remained of the Central Pacific Railroad I was pointed to Chris as the expert on the railroad. He Immediately said, “well darn, let’s do it” and agreed to show me where to find Bloomer Cut, Cape Horn, Tunnel “O” and the railroad lookout post on top of Red Mountain. Along with director of photography Brendan Compton we dragged cameras, lights and tripods into the mountains. We stumbled down canyons and walked miles on dusty roads to find the remnants of one of America’s greatest construction and engineering feats.
Days began at dawn and ended at last light. Not only did Chris get us to these locations he proved to be a natural on-camera interview, and his enthusiastic comments brought the movie to life. The result was “The Hidden Wonder of the World, the Transcontinental Railroad from Sacramento to Donner Summit” which aired on PBS and drew rave reviews thanks to Chris’s efforts. For the hundreds of hours of work on the project he asked only that I pay for gas and buy him lunch with two beers, usually at T.J.’s Roadhouse in Colfax or Jax on the Tracks in Truckee. His reward was to memorialize on film, for all time, the amazing story of the construction of the Central Pacific, which was so important to the growth and development of California.
Chris performed similar duties for noted authors and film crews from television networks around the world and PBS. When you wanted to find the original source of information about the Central Pacific, you called Chris and if he didn’t know the answer to a question, he would track it down no matter how long the job took. “Well darn,” he would say, “I can find that!”
He led celebrities and locals on tours, always for the same price of gas and a two-beer lunch. Walking along the mountain ridges listening to Chris explain to a group how a tunnel was built or a grade was cut as train horns echoed in the distance was a truly unique, evocative and American experience.
Chris passed away of natural causes at his Newcastle home April 14. He is buried on a hill in the Newcastle Cemetery near the railroad track, the same route laid out in the 1860s, the route that so fascinated him.
One of my motivations in making the film was to create a permanent visual record of the railroad construction sites. I was concerned that development and ravages of time would erode these historic vestiges. What I have really preserved is the inspirational knowledge and enthusiasm of a man who loved this railroad for its cultural importance as much as a Florentine loves the Duomo. I am confident his film performance will inspire future generations to continue to treasure the amazing accomplishment of building a railroad through the Sierra from Sacramento over Donner Summit.
Well darn, Chris. Well darn.

Bill George is the producer of the film, The Hidden Wonder of the World, the Transcontinental Railroad from Sacramento to Donner Summit, and Author of the Book, Rails Tales and Trails, a guide to the old railroad sites.

4/26/2016 10:19 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

[Bill George is the producer of the film, The Hidden Wonder of the World, the Transcontinental Railroad from Sacramento to Donner Summit, and Author of the Book, Rails Tales and Trails, a guide to the old railroad sites.]

4/26/2016 11:27 AM  
Blogger CPRR Discussion Group said...

Also published in the Auburn Journal as "Another View: Like no one else, Chris Graves knew the railroad’s path" by Bill George.

4/27/2016 8:20 AM  
Blogger CPRR Discussion Group said...

Here are some photographs taken during Chris Graves' tours of the old grade:

Views of the CPRR Sierra Grade

Along the CPRR Old Grade in Nevada

4/27/2016 9:00 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Karen, Just a quick note that will echo everything that has been said of Chris.I'm not sure if Chris was even aware that a Fellow CPRR legend by the name of Andrew Ryder is also interred at the Newcastle Cemetery.Mr Ryder was a conductor starting in 1865.As conductor he helped run the special that carried the railroad officials to Promontory Point at the time of the driving of the golden spike.He later retired to the Loomis area in Placer county. and passed away in 1920. So I'm sure that they will have lots to talk about.I only hope to join in on those discussions some day.
Rest in Peace Chris
Don Gordon

4/29/2016 9:46 PM  
Anonymous David H. Bain said...

Thanks, Bill George, for your touching remembrance of our friend Chris. We kicked through the weeds many times from Sacto to Ogden and from Reno to Bodie. He'll always be with me and my children.
Peace, everyone,
David Haward Bain
"Empire Express", "The Old Iron Road," etc. etc.

5/01/2016 1:38 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

עליו השלום

9/29/2016 2:06 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

I'm sorry to hear the bad news. I came to this site today to ask him a question about tunnel numbering, because I knew he would have the answer.

8/13/2020 2:11 PM  
Anonymous Peggy B. Perazzo said...

In 2010, I was trying to locate the Crystal Lake granite quarry near Yuba Pass in Nevada County. Chris was kind enough to research the quarries in the area for me. While he was not able to find the Crystal Lake quarry, he found one of the railroad quarries (located “between Cisco and Tunnel 5”). He sent me photos of the railroad quarry for my web site, that he posted on your message board in September 2010.

“Quarry on the grade – From: “Chris Graves”

“A quarry has been found on the current UPRR grade between Cisco and Soda Springs. Insofar as the current UPRR grade is also the old CPRR grade, the question comes to mind as to when this work was done.”

He gave me permission to share his photos of the railroad quarry, and he kept me up-to-date whenever he found new information.

Chris said that the more recent name was the “Gould and towle Quarry,” listed in the “Atlas of the United States No. 66 – Colfax Folio.” He referred to the quarry as “one of the Central Pacific Railroad granite quarries located between Cisco and Tunnel 5.”

I was just trying to locate him again about the Crystal Lake quarry when I sadly found the information about his death in 2016 on your discussion board. As you know from your comments, Chris was a very friendly, generous man who provided me with a lot of research material. Unfortunately, my late husband Pat and I never made it up there to explore the area with him or to pay him with his lunch and two beers, which we would have gladly provided.

Peggy B. Perazzo
* Stone Quarries and Beyond Facebook page:
* Stone Quarries and Beyond Continues
(continuation of Stone Quarries and Beyond)

9/06/2022 12:18 PM  

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