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Tonopah & Tidewater Railroad

These photos were donated to us by Don Winslow www.donwinslow.net
All photos are the sole property of Don Winslow and are copyright protected

This section of photos includes historical photos of the Tonopah & Tidewater Railroad. The owner of these photos, Dutch Hendricks, asked me to make copies of the original pictures back in the 1960's. He rescued these photos from the wife of the photographer who was in the process of disposing of them. Together with Dutch, I made two slides of each photo. One copy went to Dutch and with his permission, I retained the other. Some of these photos were subsequently published in railroad books over the years after being sold off by Dutch to other parties. Many of the following photos have never been published . After recently obtaining a dedicated slide scanner, I was able to restore many of these photos and the following is a result of that endeavor. 

 

T&T Train in the town of Ludlow.

The train replaced the 20 mule team that use to haul borax out of the desert. Here are a couple of photos of the old 20 mule team that was owed and ran by Francis Marion Smith.

 

Ludlow California

Ludlow Town Saloon

A couple of ladies hitching a ride on a train.

The Tonopah & Tidewater Railroad, known colloquially as the "T&T," was built by Francis Marion "Borax" Smith in 1906-1907 to tap his borax mines near Death Valley and the silver and gold mines of central Nevada. The line never did reach the coast or Tonopah, stopping just short of Beatty, Nevada, but served as the "neighborhood railroad" for much of the desert, and passed along the western boundary of the Preserve. The line was consistently unprofitable, and after ceasing operation in 1940, the rails were taken up for scrap metal during World War II. The Tonopah & Tidewater crossed the Union Pacific at Crucero, at the extreme western tip of the Preserve; the railroad berm is still in place in some areas, but the park boundary is just to the east, excluding that resource from the park, except where it crosses the northwest portion of Soda Lake between Soda Station and Baker. Soda Lake was a siding on the Tonopah & Tidewater prior to its development as Zzyzx

In these early days of auto travel the surfaced highway east from Los Angeles ended at San Bernardino, with the branch roads to Ryan and Death Valley being so primitive and lonely that people hesitated to travel them. Taking advantage of this timidity, the Pacific Coast Borax Company extensively promoted use of its own standard-gauge Tonopah & Tidewater and narrow-gauge Death Valley railroads. The two transcontinental lines--the Union Pacific and Santa Fe--were then persuaded to promote package tours to the area during October to May. Through-Pullman service in standard sleepers would be offered between Caliente and Beatty and Los Angeles and Beatty on an every-other-day basis, and in either direction. Initially the Pullmans would be run three times weekly, with the service increased to daily runs the following year. New cars were added to the lines to handle the anticipated influx of tourists. Crucero, 220 miles east of Los Angeles in San Bernardino County, was to be the transfer point at which the Pullman cars would be dropped and switched to the T & T tracks for the ninety-six-mile run north to Death Valley Junction. From here visitors would ride the last twenty miles to Ryan via a gasoline-powered combination express and passenger railcar on the Death Valley line. At Ryan large Union Pacific seven-passenger open touring buses used in the Zion-Bryce Canyon tours during their summer season would meet the people and transport them to the Inn. It was advertised that travelers could leave Los Angeles at six o'clock in the evening and be snugly settled at Furnace Creek Inn the next morning. According to the T & T's general agent, cost of the entire side trip, including Pullman fares between Crucero and Death Valley Junction, fares on the Death Valley Railroad between Death Valley Junction and Ryan and return, bus tickets, hotel accommodations for one night at Furnace Creek Inn, and meals for two days, was set at an incredible $42.

 

 

 


 
 
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 Historic Points

Rasor Road Mega-phone / the Mojave desert mystery

Desert grave of Delores Holland at Rasor Road, Near the old RR town of Crucero

Mystery jet fighter fuel tank found at Rasor Road

Old wells at Rasor Road

Soda Dry Lake off of Zzyzx Road at Rasor Road California Desert. The Mojave Road crosses though it.