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carson n colorado

Carson & Colorado
Narrow Gauge
Railroad
 


train


All material courtesy of Rich McCutchan unless otherwise noted.
See USE NOTICE on Home Page.
train and tower


laws railroad museum
Carson & Colorado Engine #9 at the Laws Railroad Museum
(Photo courtesy and copyright of Ed Simms)
narrow gauge route
Carson & Colorado Railway Route from Mound House, NV to Keeler, CA

 The Birth of a Railroad in Owens Valley

 slim rails

 BALZAR
Decked out in the "uniform of the day," Fred Balzar typified the early day conductor. Mr. Balzar went on to greater things, becoming the Governor of Nevada in 1932.

 

owenyo transfer station
Ore carts waiting to be unloaded at the Owenyo Narrow Gauge / Standard Gauge junction.

home stretch to keeler
On the home stretch to Keeler.

 
legends
Lucius Beebe and Charles Clegg aboard the Virginia & Truckee car
"The Virginia City" being served by steward Clarence Watkins.

railway pass
Carson & Colorado Railway Pass.

 
The Carson & Colorado Railroad was originated, planned and built by the Virginia & Truckee Railway. It was Lucius Beebe and his partner, Charles Clegg, who enshrined both roads in their writing and photography, much of it accomplished while living aboard their private car "Gold Coast" in the V&T's Carson yards.



 "Chronology of the Carson & Colorado RR"[pdf]
by George Turner




  saline spur
Located four miles north of Keeler, the spur line to the salt mill can be seen to the right.

 
slim rails
The Saline Valley Salt Mill at Tramway in Owens Valley, 1915. The track in the foreground connected to the narrow gauge main line.


saline valley salt tram
View looking west from the Saline Valley towards the Inyo Mountains during construction of the aerial tramway.

salt tram

Failure of the grip lock (lower wheel and handle shown on the bucket hanger) to hold the filled buckets on the cables resulted, in part, in the eventual abandonment of the salt tram in 1930.

 
 Saline Valley Aerial Tramway Location/Map


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 "An Historic Day at Owenyo"[pdf]
by Joe Dale Morris

box cars

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Owenyo - Where the S&P Narrow Gauge and Standard Gauge Met
owenyo transfer trestle
Engine Number 9 discharges her cargo into the S&P standard gauge cars in the "basement."

 
owenyo station

Owenyo Station during busier days

 owenyo
Owenyo Station

 approaching owenyo
A northbound train approaches Owenyo Station in 1954.

 owenyo transfer station
View of the Owenyo yards looking north from the narrow gauge transfer trestle.

 owenyo siding
Owenyo Station at milepost 559.8, was the junction point between the narrow gauge and the standard gauge "Jawbone Branch" from Mojave. The yard above did not contain any dual gauge trackage.

 owenyo
Combine-caboose 401 stands by the Owenyo depot, while her crew switches the yard. The word Owenyo is a contraction of the words "Owens" Valley and "Inyo" County.

 owenyo agent
Agent W.T. Tommer stands at the semaphore handles. Tommer controlled the operations of the narrow gauge for so long that people referred to the line as "Mr. Tommer's Railroad."

 owenyo clerk
Freight clerk Josephine Cole was the only woman employee of the narrow gauge.
owenyo station
Engine No. 18 passes the Owenyo Station transfer trestle on a run from Keeler in 1946.

 
office

While Owenyo was the transfer point between the three foot and standard gauge branches, there was no dual gauge trackage. The operations were directed from the small office, complete with old crank telephone, ancient Remington, waybills and rock collection on window sill.

 owenyo transfer
Owenyo Station transfer trestle.

transfer trestle
1930's view shows the layout from the transfer trestle.

owenyo 
Engine No. 9 switches a string of "A" frame hoppers, loaded with soapstone on the narrow-gauge-to-standard-gauge transfer trestle in 1959.

 
owenyo transfer

Owenyo Station transfer trestle, 1939.
When the standard gauge "Jawbone Branch" was completed to Owenyo in 1910, interchange facilities were constructed at the new junction, as well as a depot and hotel. At the south end of the yard a transfer trestle was built to allow minerals to be dumped from the narrow gauge cars into broad gauge equipment.


owenyo transfer
 
Engine No. 18 on the Owenyo Station transfer trestle.

 
owenyo

Owenyo Station transfer trestle.

 

carson & colorado rr check



 "Narrow Gauge in a Wilderness"[pdf]
by George Turner




Ray,

I was at your website about the Carson & Colorado Railroad. It is very informative. I am doing some research about Keeler. My grandmother was from there and her father owned the meat market, Diaz and Son.

This is my great-grandpa's meat market! This is it! I can't even begin to tell you how wonderful these photos are and what they mean to me. This where my Nana and her sisters lived. I've never seen a photo of the meat market. All of a sudden all those stories she used to tell my cousin and I finally have a real place and picture. It's like suddenly being able to attach the voices to the movie. Thank you! This helps my Mom and I place the location of the meat market to downtown Keeler. So, the train being in the photo actually is great. We're hoping to make a trip there sometime in October.

Right now, I'm working on getting my great-uncle Abraham Diaz, Jr.'s service records from WWI and tracing the Diaz family all the way back to when they came to California from Chile during the gold rush. I had no idea what I was getting into when I started, but now I know I can't quit until I have the whole story.

Christine Putnam, August 2003
Burbank, CA

diaz store

diaz store


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Further Reading on the Carson & Colorado Railroad
  Slim Rails Through the Sand by George Turner (1964)
Narrow Gauge Nostalgia by George Turner (1965)
Southern Pacific Narrow Gauge by Mallory Hope Ferrell (1982)
Steamcars to the Comstock by Lucius Beebe and Charles Clegg (1957)
Railroads of Nevada and Eastern California (Vol. 1) by David F. Myrick (1962)
Jawbone: Sunset on the Lone Pine by Phil Serpico (2006)
The Slim Princess by John B. Hungerford (1961)
Making "out of print" and "hard to find" books easier to find.
 


laws museum



barbar

new
burke
Owenyo Station transfer trestle - 1958.

Before Hwy 395 was put into place the Carson & Colorado Railroad carried many of the people and much of the supplies and mining material up and down the Owens Valley. The Carson & Colorado was purchased by the Southern Pacific in 1900 and continued on with the train movements until 1960......This photo was taken in 1958 and shows the narrow gauge train on the transfer trestle at Owenyo. The NG gondolas are dropping their load, looks like soapstone in this case, into the standard gauge cars down below. The SG cars in turn would be transported south down the Jawbone Branch to Mohave where they would be made into different trains to head out to different locations. There is so much to see out in the Owens Valley of the railroad if you take the time to look. The locomotive in this photo is #9 which is at the Laws Railroad Museum.

(Photo and text courtesy of Dennis Burke)
transfer trestle
Owenyo Station transfer trestle - 2016.
(Photo courtesy of Ray DeLea)

burke

Narrow Gauge "Slim Princess" atop a standard gauge flat car.

Here's an interesting image. In the last years of the railroad the narrow gauge locomotives were loaded onto standard gauge flat cars and transported to the SP Bakersfield shops for major work. There was a time the equipment would have work completed in the open air shops at Keeler and then towards the end at Owenyo. Could you imagine working on these locomotives in the hot desert sun of the Owens Valley? How hot would the metal get in the sun?...This photo was taken at Owenyo looking south/west. You are looking at the standard gauge tracks. The narrow gauge tracks were out of the photo to the left. Laws would be behind the photographer down the track, Keeler south past Owenyo. This is also locomotive #9 going in for repairs and paint.

(Photo and text courtesy of Dennis Burke)
dennis burke
The "Slim Princess" at Dolomite Crossing
(Photo courtesy of Dennis Burke)

diesel
SPNG Diesel #1- "The Little Giant"
(Photo courtesy of Dennis Burke)

diesel
SPNG Diesel #1- "The Little Giant"
(Photo courtesy of Dennis Burke)

aberdeen
The "Slim Princess" at Aberdeen Crossing - 1946
(Photo courtesy of Dennis Burke)

turntable
The "Slim Princess" at the Laws Station Turntable
(Photo courtesy of Dennis Burke)

keeler
SPNG #17 on the SPC at Keeler
(Photo courtesy of Dennis Burke)

keeler
SPNG #14 at Keeler
(Photo courtesy of Dennis Burke)

keeler
Water stop at Keeler
(Photo courtesy of Dennis Burke)

aberdeen
Filling up the water tender at Aberdeen Crossing
(Photo courtesy of Dennis Burke)

engine number 9
The "Slim Princess" in Owens Valley
(Photo courtesy of Dennis Burke)

spng number 11
SPNG #11
(Photo courtesy of Dennis Burke)

number 18
The "Slim Princess" #18 in Owens Valley
(Photo courtesy of Dennis Burke)

dennis burke
Going through a disc of pics I have not looked at in a long time and finding some interesting views. This one taken atop a NG box car at Owenyo. Check out the little crane type thing on the right in the SG box car. You can also clearly see the difference between the narrow and standard gauge tracks in this view.....3 foot gauge on left and 4 foot 8 inches on the right.

(Text and Photo courtesy of Dennis Burke)

burke
Conductor Brennan's dog will be at this same location when the train return's from Laws. (note dog lower right) We even have some 1957 8mm film footage of Brennan's dog chasing the train as it pulls into Keeler to greet his master.

(Text and Photo courtesy of Dennis Burke)

slim princess
SP narrow gauge #9 rolling towards Owenyo. A commission by the Southern Pacific Historical and Technical Society for a book cover.
(Text and Photo courtesy of Dennis Burke)

burke
The "Slim Princess" #18 at the Laws turntable
(Photo courtesy of Dennis Burke)

burke
The "Slim Princess" at Laws
(Photo courtesy of Dennis Burke)

burke
The "Slim Princess" in Owens Valley
(Photo courtesy of Dennis Burke)

burke
The "Slim Princess" in Owens Valley
(Photo courtesy of Dennis Burke)

burke
The "Slim Princess" in Owens Valley at Keeler
(Photo courtesy of Dennis Burke)

laws depot
Laws Depot - Owens Valley - June 2, 1946
(Photo courtesy of Dennis Burke)

owenyo
Working on the transfer trestle at Owenyo
(Photo courtesy of Dennis Burke)

last days
The "Last Days" of the Carson & Colorado Narrow Gauge RR
(Photo courtesy of Dennis Burke)

narrow gauge
The "Slim Princess" traversing the sands of Owens Valley
(Photo courtesy of Dennis Burke)

keeler
Carson & Colorado RR at the talc plant in Keeler
(Photo courtesy of Dennis Burke)

slim princess
Here's a great Bill Poole photo of SPNG #9 at Keeler on the track where the Engine House once stood.
(Text and Photo courtesy of Dennis Burke)

slim princess
Slim Princess crossing the Owens River

(Photo courtesy of Dennis Burke)

slim princess
SPNG #18 cruising over the Owens River with a train of high cars.
(Text and Photo courtesy of Dennis Burke)

slim princess
SPNG #18 over the Keeler pit.
(Text and Photo courtesy of Dennis Burke)

burke
Conductor Brennan heating up his coffee in SP Narrow Gauge caboose 401 on a wonderful looking vintage stove. Different meaning to coffee on the go!
(Text and Photo courtesy of Dennis Burke)


slim princess
SPNG #18 getting a drink at Aberdeen.
(Text and Photo courtesy of Dennis Burke)


slim princess
Slim Princess at Laws Station
(Photo courtesy of Dennis Burke)


slim princess
What a wonderful shot of the Narrow Gauge in the Owens Valley. Just says it all. Running from Owenyo to Keeler backwards. Caboose at the head, auxiliary water tender tank #350, and 5 boxes being pulled. Inyo Mountains in the background.
(Text and Photo courtesy of Dennis Burke)


slim princess
Looking back from the cab of SPNG #9 in the Owens Valley.
(Text and Photo courtesy of Dennis Burke)

slim princess
The Slim Princess somewhere in Owens Valley.
(Photo courtesy of Dennis Burke)

keeler station
Carson & Colorado RR at Keeler Station in the Owens Valley.
(Photo courtesy of Dennis Burke)
track switch
Sketch of a "Harp Switch" - used on the C&C up until WWII.

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Southern Pacific Narrow Gauge at a Glance - 1950
Southern Pacific's Narrow Gauge Owens Valley Line

TRACKAGE:
 
Laws to Keeler, California 70.4 miles. Three Foot gauge.
STATIONS:
 


Laws (MP 506.8 Frame Depot) Closed 2/1959. Elevation - 4,115'.
Kearsarge (MP 550.1) Frame Depot. Torn down 12/1955. Elevation - 3,925 '.
Owenyo (MP 559.8) Frame Building. Closed 4/1960. Elevation - 3,690'.
Keeler (MP 576.5) Frame Depot. Closed 8/1957. Elevation - 3,610'.
Former Station Names:
Laws, formerly Bishop Creek
Zurich, formerly Alvord
Aberdeen, formerly Tibbets
Keasarge, formerly Independence, then Citrus Keeler, formerly Hawley

TURNTABLES:
 
Laws: Gallows type, built in 1883
Owenyo: Gallows type, moved here from Keeler in 1910. Dismantled in 1948.
Keeler: Gallows type, built in 1883 and moved to Owenyo in 1910.

ENGINEHOUSE:
 
Keeler, single stall. Burned in 1946. With advent of diesel (1954) servicing was done at Owenyo.
WATER TANKS:
 
Laws: originally windmill powered.
Aberdeen: windmill powered until 1953
Kearsarge
Owenyo: used standard gauge water supply via pipe.
Keeler
FUEL OIL:
 
Laws
Owenyo
TRANSFERS:
 


Owenyo:
Trestle: with narrow gauge above standard gauge.
Gantry: (Queen Truss) hand powered gears.
Dock: manual labor used to transfer materials.


PRODUCTS HAULED:
 
Cattle, sheep, soda, pumice, talc, clay, soapstone, dolomite, slate, pyrophylite (crop dusting), lead,
melatenterite, aluminum silicate, silver ore, potatoes, hay and farm products, sugar beets

LOCOMOTIVES:
 
Three Baldwin 4-6-0's. Number 8, 9, 18.
ROLLING STOCK:
 
Box - 91, Combination Box/Stock - 14, Stock - 35, Flat - 8
Gondola - 36, Ballast - 38, Tank - 4
Caboose - 1, Baggage & Express - 1, Work - 4
   

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left
Early Big Pine  

left
Early Bishop Residents  

left
Mary Austin  
 

 More, Owens Valley - Carson & Colorado Railroad

right
 
Saline Valley Saltworks Tramway
right
 

 High Sierra Pack Stations

right
 

 Willie A. Chalfant

right

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potThis page was last updated on 25 June 2017pot