Thursday, January 13, 2022

"The Quest to Protect California’s Transcontinental Railroad Tunnels"

"The Quest to Protect California’s Transcontinental Railroad Tunnels" by Shoshi Parks, © Smithsonian Magazine, January 12, 2022. (Magazine Article)

"Built by Chinese immigrants in the 1860's, the caverns cutting through Donner Summit helped unite the country ... Thousands of men, nearly all of them immigrants from China, working 24 hours a day for 16 months, proved the seemingly impossible possible. Using hand drills, black powder and experimental nitroglycerin explosives, the workers penetrated the granite at a rate of a foot per day. When the most impressive tunnel of the bunch, Tunnel #6, was completed in November 1867 and finally opened to train traffic, it stretched the length of nearly five football fields across the mountain pass, the highest elevation tunnel in the world. ... One idea is to establish the Donner Summit tunnels as a National Historic Landmark (NHL), a designation that would protect them from new destructive activities and may provide some resources for planning and preservation without requiring Union Pacific to make any changes to the site ... But the archaeological work done ... last summer is just the beginning of a lengthy nomination process that will ultimately require approval from both the National Park Service and the Department of the Interior to go forward. ... " [More]

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