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