Saturday, September 02, 2017

Tunnel #6, the summit tunnel, did they have to build it?

From: "One Luckyduck"

I have wondered for years if all the time and expense (or a lot of it) could have been avoided, to build the original transcontinental line, much easier over the actual Donner Pass, and avoid the 2 year battle to build tunnel 6. I have hiked the area for decades and just finished another hike today of the original line over Donner Summit, thru tunnel 6 to Eder and back.

As a retired Engineer and Builder, I am very familiar with shooting grades, and major excavating to build houses on hillsides. It looks to me that the original builders could have turned 20' or so to the South just after crossing the Chinese Wall (heading West) and proceeded Westward on a bench just above the route of the old wagon road, (and subsequently the Lincoln Highway) over the summit, and proceed just to the North the the present lake Mary and end up in the same general summit location, just a little to the West. It would join the original route just West of the original turntable area. This looks like a no-brainer to me.

This would have saved a year and a half or more of precious building time, and been a substantial decrease in cost ... Could it have been required covertly to slow down the CPRR so they would end up having about the same track, and thus the same benefits as the UPRR?

Otherwise they would have been way ahead of the UPRR ...

I would really appreciate your thoughts on this, and any suggested reading concerning this question would be great, also. ...

—Tom Hallendorf, Soda Springs, California


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Don't know the merits of your proposed route alternative, but the fact that it took decades to locate the first transcontinental railroad route actually used, while many thought the project impossible, makes the claim that "This looks like a no-brainer to me" seem contrary to what actually historically occurred. They certainly didn't blast the Summit Tunnel with its enormous difficulty and expense, knowing that there was an easier alternative.

Deliberately slowing down the CPRR progress does not seem even remotely plausible for several reasons. The initial CPRR construction contemplated in the 1862 Pacific Railroad Act was only to the California border, and the final meeting point determination was conducted only months before the 1869 completion. The financial incentives favored building expeditiously, and the big four had their entire personal fortunes at risk, subjecting them to financial ruin if they failed.

9/03/2017 3:12 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Recent Messages