This is an update to my original news item of October 17, 1998, outlining
salvage operations to the historical “Jawbone Branch” of the Southern
Pacific Railroad, north of Searles Station and the interchange with the
Trona Railway.

Salvage operators have continued rail removal operations in Inyo County,
south of Olancha, California. This phase of the operation had been
halted at the order of the Bureau of Land Management in August, ‘98. On
October 30, 1998, I noted that rails were removed on the old US395
crossing about five miles south of Olancha. On my prior trip through the
area, about two weeks prior, the grade was unmolested. At that point,
rails were removed, though ties were still in place.

On November 15, 1998, I stopped in several locations to note progress on
the salvage operations. The tie yard at Pearsonville has grown in size,
and I noted people and equipment working there.
Rails are still on the ground and undisturbed north of Pearsonville. At
the old Louisiana Pacific lumber mill site, rails are undisturbed. At
Little Lake, rails are as they always have been, except for flood damage
from two flashfloods occurring a couple of weeks apart in 1997. At the
site of Gill Siding (Coso Junction), rails are in place, except for a 50
foot section of the mainline missing, which was the case when I last
stopped in 1992. At South Haiwee Road (road to the power plant at Haiwee
dam), rails were in place.

Today, November 16th, I checked removal at Merritt Cut, three miles north
of South Haiwee Road. Merritt Cut is a mile long cut running through
rough country east of US395 and west of the shore of Haiwee Reservoir and
is about 15 to 25 feet deep. At the access road running from US395,
operators have already removed rails and most ties. At the south end of
Merritt Cut, a short section of grade can be seen from US395 and if void
of rails. That section of grade then enters another short cut south of
there. However, on the south side of the second cut, the grade still
holds rails and ties. Apparently salvage operators and equipment are
hidden inside that small cut. I could not check on that situation for
there is no access road from US395 and time restraints precluded my
taking a short walk to verify.

As for the south end of the salvage operations, which was six miles south
of Inyokern on October 17th, I have not verified if rails have been
removed for the remainder of the distance to Searles Station.

As for removal of rails between Searles Station and north to the first
US395 crossing, I theorize that the approximately two miles of track will
be left in place, as both Union Pacific and Trona Railway utilize this
section of the old mainline for car storage.

Further updates will come as I continue to record salvage operations
until completion.

David A. Wright
Great Basin Research