Donner Pass abandoned snow sheds, February 9th (photos)

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Donner Pass abandoned snow sheds, February 9th (photos)
Posted by mfmalk on Thursday, April 2, 2020 4:24 PM

I hope this finds you and your loved ones safe and healthy.

 

February 9th I spent the morning hiking and exploring the abandoned show sheds and tunnels near the summit on Donner Pass in California. At elevation 7,056 feet, Donner is a mountain pass in the northern Sierra Nevada range, above Donner Lake; 9 miles west of Truckee, California.

 

Donner Summit receives 35-40 feet of snow per year and sometimes 70. Snowdrifts can be dozens of feet high, with the constant possibility of avalanches. To keep trains safe and moving, the Central Pacific Railroad built forty miles of snowsheds to protect their tracks. Used were 65 million board feet of lumber and 900 tons of bolts and spikes. Eventually snow fighting equipment improved and some of the sheds were removed. The remaining sheds were rebuilt of concrete so that collapse was no longer a threat. Trains used these tunnels for 125 years, until 1993 when the line was rerouted to a new tunnel running through nearby Mount Judah. To think that Southern Pacific class AC 6000 horsepower 4-8-8-2 cab forward locomotives once made daily multiple round trips over the Donner Pass route between Sacramento and Reno, Nevada.

 

Follow the link below to my gallery of images from the hike, which are in chronological order from west to east, as I started at the west portal of tunnel #6 at Sugar Bowl Road, photo 2. The weather conditions were not the best for this activity, but I guess if I’m going to explore snow sheds I should do it on a nasty winter day.

 

Enjoy,

Matthew

 

https://www.losttracksoftime.com/p310206447

 

 

 

 

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Posted by timberlane1 on Thursday, April 2, 2020 4:48 PM

Thanks for the pictures. Looks like a cold lonly place.

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Posted by seppburgh2 on Thursday, April 2, 2020 4:50 PM
Cool beans! Thanks for sharing.
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Posted by Flintlock76 on Thursday, April 2, 2020 6:29 PM

Great effort Matthew, and great shots too!

Decades from now someone will stumble on those concrete snowsheds and wonder.

Right now I'm wondering how the damn taggers found their way up there.  Is there nowhere safe?

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Posted by Penny Trains on Thursday, April 2, 2020 7:40 PM

They look so small in stature.  Amazing that locomotives ran through.

Trains, trains, wonderful trains.  The more you get, the more you toot!  Big Smile

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Posted by MJ4562 on Sunday, April 5, 2020 11:42 AM

Amazing pictures.  Shows why SP used cabforwards.

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Posted by BaltACD on Sunday, April 5, 2020 2:01 PM

Flintlock76
Great effort Matthew, and great shots too!

Decades from now someone will stumble on those concrete snowsheds and wonder.

Right now I'm wondering how the damn taggers found their way up there.  Is there nowhere safe?

I suspect somebody has tagged the top of Mt. Everest.

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Posted by 54light15 on Sunday, April 5, 2020 3:15 PM

 Spray the graffitti, take a selfie, get likes is what it's about, I guess. It's the point of reaching the top of Mt. Everest isn't it? Taking a selfie? 

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Posted by Flintlock76 on Sunday, April 5, 2020 4:35 PM

BaltACD

 

 
Flintlock76
Great effort Matthew, and great shots too!

Decades from now someone will stumble on those concrete snowsheds and wonder.

Right now I'm wondering how the damn taggers found their way up there.  Is there nowhere safe?

 

I suspect somebody has tagged the top of Mt. Everest.

 

They don't have to, the whole trail on the way to the summit is a massive junkyard.

And that's not counting the unrecovered bodies.  

It's gotten so bad the Nepalese Army's had to go on Everest clean-up details, and the Nepalese government is considering limiting access on account of the messes various expeditions are leaving behind. 

And even Sir Edmund Hillary didn't take a selfie at the summit, he took a photo of his partner, Tensing Norgay! 

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Posted by Paul of Covington on Sunday, April 5, 2020 8:28 PM

   Beautiful work as always.  Thanks Matthew.  Now I feel like I need a sweater.

_____________ 

  My mind's made up.   Don't confuse me with the facts.

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Posted by Flintlock76 on Sunday, April 5, 2020 9:03 PM

Paul of Covington

   Beautiful work as always.  Thanks Matthew.  Now I feel like I need a sweater.

 

Oh yeah, me too!

Paul, thanks for reminding us what this thread's really all about.

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Posted by GERALD L MCFARLANE JR on Sunday, April 5, 2020 9:14 PM

Ah yes, the old second mainline over Donner...may it rest in peace.

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Posted by Confused Railfan on Wednesday, June 3, 2020 8:59 PM

I did not know they abandoned the pass. I drove up to it in 1979 and 1980 while visiting my aunt and rode over it both ways in 1980.

Thanks for the pictures.

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Posted by Deggesty on Thursday, June 4, 2020 1:29 PM

Confused Railfan

I did not know they abandoned the pass. I drove up to it in 1979 and 1980 while visiting my aunt and rode over it both ways in 1980.

Thanks for the pictures.

 

The pass is still in use, but with only one through track now

Johnny

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Posted by Fred M Cain on Thursday, January 14, 2021 7:47 AM

Deggesty

 Confused Railfan

I did not know they abandoned the pass. I drove up to it in 1979 and 1980 while visiting my aunt and rode over it both ways in 1980.

Thanks for the pictures.

 The pass is still in use, but with only one through track now

 

Well, not exactly.  The north track that actually went over the Pass was taken out in the '90s.  I can't recall the exact date but it was before the UP takeover.  The north track was plainly visible from Old U.S. 40 to the north.

The south track, which is now the main line, passes through a long tunnel and technically doesn't go right over Donner Pass.  Nevertheless, it is still refered to as the "Donner Pass Line".

I was most fortunate for the opportunity to ride westbound over the north track on Amtrak in the late 1980s.  It was a most beautiful and scenic ride. What a pity that they don't use it anymore.

There have been on again, off again, on again, off again railfan rumors that the UP intends to eventually restore the second track.  Some of these rumors were substantiated according to my understanding.  But up until now this has never happened and perhaps never will.

It just all depends on how much rail traffic on the Donner Pass Line grows.  The single tracking right at the top of the summit can create quite a bottle neck when traffic levels are high.

One time we were headed east on Amtrak and hit a red board at the end of the double track at Norden.  We sat there for an hour waiting on traffic to clear.

Regards,

Fred M. Cain

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Posted by Backshop on Thursday, January 14, 2021 8:28 AM

I guess this means that most of the passes in the west aren't really passes since almost all include a tunnel somewhere.  Some people take semantics way too far!

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Posted by MidlandMike on Thursday, January 14, 2021 9:03 PM

Fred M Cain
Well, not exactly.  The north track that actually went over the Pass was taken out in the '90s.  I can't recall the exact date but it was before the UP takeover.  The north track was plainly visible from Old U.S. 40 to the north. The south track, which is now the main line, passes through a long tunnel and technically doesn't go right over Donner Pass.  Nevertheless, it is still refered to as the "Donner Pass Line".

The North track also went thru a tunnel under the summit of the pass.  A pass may refer to the route thru the mountains, not just the summit of the pass.

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