Railroad Repeats

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Trestle in Clipper Ravine     38°57'38.04"N, 121°1'2.22"W


Description

This photograph is a good illustration of basic 4-pile wooden trestle construction. These trestles demanded frequent repair and reconstruction. They would need replacement roughly every ten or twelve years. Again, you see here the bridging of a ravine followed by the cutting of a hill on the opposite side, all efforts to keep the grade of the railroad flat. From a Contemporary Tourist Guide From The Pacific Tourist, 1884: "All along the route traversing this region of this great country, the most wonderful, the grandest and the most beautiful views of natural scenery are to be had. What magic is this to tenable a traveler to sit in a chair suitable for a room in a palace; have his meals brought to him of the rarest of dainties, if he so chooses; and all the while his is borne as swift as the flight of a bird, over ridges inaccessible to the toiling carriages of old, over the summits of mountains and down again to the level of valleys! - performing in five days what not long ago it took months to do. Opening before the tourist, who sits at his spacious window in the sumptuous car, scenes of beauty, grandeur and magnificence, perhaps never dreamed of by him before, coming and passing like thoughts in a dream. What would be the sensations of one of our ancestors were he to be brought back again to the life he lived and placed by the side of our tourist?" (Shearer, 253)

Description

In the modern photo, the ravine has been completely filled in. The cut on the opposite side is now obscured by the regrowth of vegetation. Rather than replace the wooden trestle with a more permanent one built out of stone, as was the original intention, the Central Pacific instead filled around the trestle. In one of the associated photos below, you can see the end of a railroad tie peeking through the dirt.