1-30-99 UPDATE ON SALVAGE
OPERATIONS OF THE SOUTHERN PACIFIC LONE PINE (CA)
Saturday, January 16, 1999:
Traveled the grade between Pearsonville and Bartlett, photographing
videotaping salvage progress and some equipment working. Presently
contractors are removing the last of the rails, about 28 miles
between Pearsonville and Haiwee Reservoir. Tie removal continues
the northernmost stretch of the grade near Bartlett.
Beginning at the south end: I stopped
at the former point that rails were
still intact, located about ½ mile southeast of Pearsonville,
and about a
third of a mile south of the Inyo-Kern County line. I found that
had been removed, although ties were still in place. All rails
lined up along the east side of the grade.
Driving the short distance to Pearsonville,
I noted that the tie yard had
grown considerably. There were bundled and strapped stacks of
for shipment, along with unbundled ties stacked in long rows.
equipment was operating when I stopped by.
Driving about three miles further
north to the former site of a
Louisiana-Pacific lumber mill, abandoned in the 1980s,
I noticed two
private vehicles parked along the grade, so knew somebody was
nearby. About ¾ mile further north I found a piece of
rails. He was working alone, I saw no ground crew working with
him as I
had seen in the past.
At Little Lake I noticed a bulldozer
parked on the grade. I noted that
at Little Lake and at a spot about ¾ mile north that the
grade had been
uncovered by it. In 1997, two separate flashfloods two weeks
inflicted damage to Little Lake village (consisting of an old,
hotel and gas station) and to the line. At Little Lake village,
grade was buried under several feet of mud. At the spot ¾
large boulders, brush and mud covered the line in one spot and
was undermined at another. Both sites received the attention
bulldozer and the track was uncovered and ready for rail plucking.
About 2 miles north of Little Lake,
at the old cinder plant off of Cinder
Road, I noted that rail joiner plates were already disassembled
At Gill Siding, just west of Coso
Junction, I found equipment and a crew
of men removing the siding tracks. The crew and equipment was
company other than those doing the salvage, though I didnt
company name. A truck with a hydraulic picker arm was placing
rails on a
flatbed semi truck. About 15 men were working in this process,
three men standing nearby watching the proceedings, dressed in
such a way
it was obvious they were managing the job.
At a point about one-third of a mile
north of South Haiwee Road I noted a
crew of men pushing a cart with flanged wheels along the grade.
were two large tanks of oxygen and acetylene mounted on the cart.
crew were cutting the bolts on the rail joiner plates. They were
¾ mile of the end of the section that still have rails
and ties intact.
A short distance north of there,
I pulled off to the southern end of
Merritt Cut, where rails had been removed in October. Ties were
embedded in the grade, with rails still stacked along the east
At the tie yard at Sage Flat Road
(about six miles south of Olancha), I
found men and equipment working. The tie yard had grown considerably,
along with stacks of rails. The grade north of there to the crossing
with US395 was picked clean and the top of the grade bladed smooth.
unlocked chainlink gate on each side of US395 allowed vehicle
the grade, which was smooth enough to drive on (although soft,
would be recommended).
At Olancha Siding, I found rails
and ties still strewn on both sides of
North of Cartago, the line crossed
US395 diagonally southwest to
northeast. To the southwest, the grade had been picked clean,
but to the
northeast rails and ties were still laying on the grade for a
one-third mile, then the remainder of the grade was clean.
At a point about 1 mile further north,
I spied a piece of equipment
sitting on the grade. Driving over the old road to the former
siding, I found the new Cat tractor with rubber tracks parked.
hydraulic picker attachment with a small claw (probably used
up rail) sat neglected in the dirt nearby. I found it odd that
side of the road crossing that the grade was clean of ties and
however to the north they were still strewn as far as I could
seemingly random manner of salvage along the grade confuses me,
think that running men and equipment to random areas of the 75
grade being salvaged would be cost prohibitive. Returning to
highway, I saw the crew and equipment that were tearing up rail
Siding heading north toward Lone Pine.
At the curve of the grade into the
old Pittsburgh-Liberty glass plant
(abandoned since the late 1970s but still intact and mothballed),
found rails and ties still littering the grade on the south of
The track is still intact for the final ¼ mile into the
radius of the curve was torn out in 1994 for a highway 4-lane
The remainder of the grade into Lone Pine was torn up in the
At Lone Pine I stopped to take some
photos of the old railroad station
complex, which is still intact. The station depot is now a private
residence, although still painted in the yellow Southern Pacific
The freight depot complex a couple of hundred yards south is
residence and a feed and supply store.
I continued on out to the site of
Owenyo, which was the former standard
gauge tie-in point with Southern Pacifics Owens Valley
Branch, which was
part of the old narrow gauge Carson & Colorado Railroad;
built from Mound
House, Nevada (east of Carson City) to Keeler, California in
The grade between Lone Pine and Owenyo was abandoned and rails
removed in May 1960, when Southern Pacific abandoned and salvaged
narrow gauge. I took photos of the site for submission to this
for the remainder of daylight, noting a beautiful sunset over
Sunday, January 17, 1999:
On this day I returned to Owenyo to complete photographing the
focusing on the standard gauge gradient south of there. On the
trip back to Ridgecrest I noted but did not investigate salvage
operations on the Jawbone.
I found north of Permanente the rubber
tired Caterpillar tractor with a
flatbed trailer attached parked on the grade. No crew was operating
A crew was working at the tie yard
at Sage Flat Road.
About 750 feet from the end of the
rails at Merritt Cut I found the cart
with the oxygen and acetylene tanks sitting on the grade, no
crew to be
found. I suppose it will take them less than a day to complete
bolts in the joiner plates on that short section of track.
The piece of equipment that was working
north of the Louisiana-Pacific
lumber mill site was parked less than a mile south of Little
were stacked along the east side of the grade along the large
fills as the grade climbs the short but stiff ascent to that
wondered how the operator crossed the busy divided four lane
that part of US395 in the steel tracked excavation type piece
equipment with the claw attachment. If unaided by somebody to
traffic control, that would seem to be a scary experience.
Wednesday, January 27, 1999:
I again traveled the route south to north. This time, the scene
tempered by a foot and more of fresh fallen snow.
At Pearsonville I noted activity
in the tie yard. There were many neatly
stacked bundles of ties, along with rows of unbundled ties. A
going about its task of bundling ties.
At the old cinder plant at Cinder
Road I stopped and photographed the now
removed rails. The ties were still embedded in the grade. Rails
stacked along the east side of the grade, spikes, ties and other
paraphernalia was strewn everywhere.
At South Haiwee Road the rails were
still in place. I didnt see any
equipment anywhere along the route between Cinder Road and South
Road (15.4 miles apart) that would have been removing rail.
At Merritt Cut I plowed through 1½
feet of untracked snow to photograph
the end of the rails. The backhoe with the jackhammer attachment
car with the oxygen and acetylene tanks were parked at the end
track, still covered in snow and telling of lack of use over
three days (it had snowed on Sunday and Monday).
The tie yard at Sage Flat Road had
grown considerably. A change from
last visit was that crews were bundling and strapping ties for
The equipment, a Bobcat and a tie picker semi truck, sat idle.
Ties and rails still lay strewn at
Permanente and the short distance at
the US395 crossing just south of there. Rails and ties are still
at Pittsburgh-Liberty. I presume the salvage company and Union
(now owners of Southern Pacific and who are sponsoring the salvage
branch) are uninterested in the quarter mile of mainline and
spurs within the plant.
David A. Wright
Great Basin Research