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Southern Pacific Narrow Gauge Railroad

slim rails


Bishop
Big Pine
Laws
(Formerly Bishop Creek)
Poleta
Bigelow
Black Canyon

Zurich (Formerly Alvord)
Monola
Beneme
Elna
Aberdeen
(Formerly Tibbets)
Fish Springs




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


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Tim Shea writes: Laws was named after R.J. Lawsrj laws

Harry Ketza writes: On October 21, 1904 in Los Angeles, Herald R. J. Laws, Southern Pacific Railroad superintendent died of a heart attack caused by the strain and excitement of surviving a train accident where the train he was riding rear ended a stalled freight train.

Chris Owens writes: Taken from the Owens Valley History Page: “Regular train service from Los Angeles to Owenyo via Mojave began October 22, 1910. The cost roundtrip was $15.45; the connection to Laws was $19 .50. Unfortunately, this schedule was not con­ducive to the arrival of the narrow gauge trains at Owenyo, which necessitated an all-night layover, one that even SP men admitted to was not pleasing to val­ley travel. To add insult to the situation, the "hotel" accommodations consisted of a few boxcars. It need scarcely be mentioned that this circumstance created a profitable business for the auto-stages operating between Owenyo and Bishop, and all other valley points as road improvements continued. In fact, some travelers from Los Angeles would take an auto the entire journey and arrive at Bishop in less time than by train when the twelve-hour layover at Owenyo was taken into consideration.

On April 7, 1911 railroad officials arrived in Bishop and met with local businessmen to discuss pos­sible train schedules that would best serve the valley. It was decided that the southbound train from Owenyo be run at night not only to avoid the layover for passengers, but to afford a better connection for shipments of milk, cream and perishable products so they would not have to endure a day journey through the hot desert. The change was made on the narrow gauge effective February 26, 1912 wherein trains were run to allow layovers at Laws and Mina instead of Owenyo and dairy products and perishables would be delivered the same day.”


number 18

number 18

number 18

number 18

number 18

number 18


number 18

number 18

number 18

number 18

number 18

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slim princess being turned
Gallows Turntable at Laws Station. Constructed in 1883 and served until the end of the Carson & Colorado Railroad operations. No. 18 being turned in 1952.

slim princess being turned

Gallows Turntable at Laws Station. Constructed in 1883 and served until the end of the Carson & Colorado Railroad operations. No. 18 being turned in 1952.

gallows turntable

Gallows Turntable at Laws Station. Constructed in 1883 and served until the end of the Carson & Colorado Railroad operations. No. 18 being turned in 1952.
slim princess
Laws RR yard

blue star mill

Blue Star Mill and Grinding Company 1946. SPNG locomotive is headed towards the camera.
Zurich Station is on the other side of the mill.

(Photo courtesy of Dennis Burke and the Southern Pacific Narrow Gauge Historical Society Inc.)

zurich station

Zurich Station - Zurich was first called Alvord.
The name was changed from Alvord to Zurich because of the stunning view of the Eastern Sierra Nevada.

(Photo courtesy of Dennis Burke and the Southern Pacific Narrow Gauge Historical Society Inc.)

gallows turntable
Turning the Schenectady built 4-6-0 on the Gallows turntable.

engine number 18

In a scene that could easily be mistaken for 1954, SPNG #18 is seen at Laws, CA on September 22, 2017 after her full restoration to an operating steam locomotive.
(Photo and text courtesy of Rob Sarberenyi - [John West photo])

carson and colorado

SPNG #9 (Baldwin #34035) with is auxiliary water car, sits quietly in the sun in Owenyo, CA on December 27, 1958. Built in 1909 for the Nevada-California-Oregon Railroad, #9 came to the Owens Valley line in 1928. When diesel #1 arrived in 1954, #9 was relegated to stand-by service and seldo left its track in Owenyo. In 1960, when the narrow-gauge line was abandoned, #9 and a string of cars were left in Laws, CA to form the nucleus of a museum.
(Photo and text courtesy of Rob Sarberenyi archives - 1954 postcard)

narrow gauge

Engine #18 leaves Laws for Keeler

taking on water

Engine #18 takes on water at Laws Station - 1953

zurich

Zurich Station

harp switch

"Harp Switch" at Zurich Station was in use on the Carson & Colorado RR up until WWII.

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laws railroad yard
Laws Railroad Yard

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1 and 9 at zurich
SP engines No. 1 and No. 9 at Zurich
(Photo courtesy of eBay)


zurich
SP engines No. 9 at Zurich
(Photo courtesy of eBay)

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slim princess
Slim Princess Engine No. 18 with her ancient combine - 1949

slim princess
SP No. 18 heads across Owens Valley in 1952. An extra passenger car to the consist to accommodate visiting railfans.

slim princess
Aberdeen water tank and prairie windmill.
tibbets depot
Tibbets Depot

slim princess

No. 6 at Nevada-California state line in 1882.

slim princess
Rails overgrown with grass at Laws Station.



dennis burke
The Slim Princess leaves the Blue Star Mine mill at Zurich. Here is a photo of the Blue Star Mill. Looking south towards Owenyo. Depot would have been across the County Rd just on the other side of the Mill. The livestock pens are in the forground. Look close and you can see the two tall posts that show up in your photo (below) that would raise and lower the ramp. The loading ramp and concrete foundation for the Blue Star Mill and Mining Co. which burned down in the late 50's. The ramp was on cables and could be pulled up. This facility was constructed long after the SP purchased the C&C so it actually did not service the C&C RR itself. The spur just under this loading ramp was constructed by the SP. But the old C&C mainline is about where you took the ramp photo from. Different materials were processed here. Unbagged material was shipped out on the SP narrow gauge gondola cars and bagged material were loaded into the narrow gauge box cars. Shipped to Owenyo for transfer to standard gauge trains to be shipped out the Jawbone line to Mojave. Some shipments went to Laws.....Very interesting history at this location.
(Photo and text courtesy of Dennis Burke)

blue star mine
Remains of the Blue Star Mine loading ramp at Zurich.
(Photo courtesy of Ray DeLea)

blue star mine
Remains of the Blue Star Mine loading mill foundations at Zurich.
(Photo courtesy of Ray DeLea)

slim princess
Heading south at Laws Station.

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


returning from zurich
Returning from Zurich station with loads of soapstone.

switching at zurich
Engine No. 18 switching at Zurich - 1952

desert run
Engine No. 18 making a desert run - 1951

turntable

The "Slim Princess" at the Laws Station Turntable
(Photo courtesy of Dennis Burke)
aberdeen
Filling up the water tender at Aberdeen Crossing
(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)
laws depot
Laws Depot - Owens Valley - June 2, 1946
(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)



smokin' up the desert
Engine No. 18 smokes up the Owens Valley desert.
paused between zurich and kearsarge
Extra No. 9 paused between Zurich and Kearsarge - 1956


stopped at aberdeen
Ten-wheeler No. 18 making a stop at Aberdeen

crossing the owens river
Engine No. 18 crossing the Owens River above Aberdeen - 1952

crossing the owens river
Engine No. 18 crossing the Owens River above Aberdeen - 1954

paused at zurich

Engine No. 18 paused at Zurich siding.


fish springs slough

A photo of the SPNG Fish Springs Slough trestle - circa 2018
(Photo courtesy of Dennis Burke)

engine number 8
Engine No. 8 enroute between Laws and Owenyo just after WWII.


fish springs slough

SPNG Engine No. 18 on the upper Owens River trestle
(Photo courtesy of Dennis Burke)

heading across the desert near Laws

Engine No. 18 heading across the desert near Laws - 1949

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backing towards Laws
No. 18 backs her train northbound past Tinemaha Reservoir in 1953. The Owenyo turntable had been removed in 1948 requiring engines to back all the ways to Laws to turn the engine around on the gallows located there.

backing towards laws
No. 18 backs her train northbound past Tinemaha Reservoir in 1953. The Owenyo turntable had been removed in 1948 requiring engines to back all the ways to Laws to turn the engine around on the gallows located there.

arriving in laws
Southern Pacific's No. 18 arrives in Laws with a train of ancient wooden cars.

laws station
No. 18 switches in the grass covered rails north of Laws, CA - 1952

laws railroad yard
Laws, CA Carson & Colorado Railroad yard - 1939

laws gallows
Turning No. 18 on the gallows at Laws

gallows rollers
Detail of the rollers on the gallows.

laws depot
Laws railroad depot, Laws, CA -1948



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engine no 18 at laws
Baldwin 4-6-0 No. 18 switching in the Laws yards

switching in the laws yard
No. 18 switching in the Laws yards - 1953
leaving laws
Slim Princess consist prepares to leave the Laws yard - 1952

taking on water

SP No. 18 takes on water at Laws - 1949

getting ready to head to keeler
The crew checks over SPNG No. 18 before heading to Keeler.

leaving laws
Engine No. 8 ready to leave Laws - winter 1953

south of laws
Engine No. 18 just south of Laws.

bound for keeler
No. 18 leaving Laws bound for Keeler - 1949

south of monola bound for keeler
No. 18 a few miles south of Monola bound for Keeler - 1949




 
on the gallows
Engine No. 18 being turned on the gallows.


on the gallows 
Backing No. 18 off of the gallows turntable at Laws.

laws station
Laws, California, during the regime of the Nevada & California. Originally called Bishop Creek, the community's name was later changed in honor of R.J. Laws

on the gallows

Engine No. 8 being turned on the gallows.
combine caboose photo
Keeler bound train photographed from the combine-caboose.

south of laws
No. 18 smoking up the skies south of Laws, CA

giving fans a ride
Railway fans on the Slim Princess in 1948



aberdeen water tower

No. 18 makes a stop at the Aberdeen water tank. The tank was filled by a windmill. When there was insufficient wind, a water car would be coupled behind the tender so the engine could make it between water tanks.
crossing the owens river
Engine No. 8 crosses over the Owens River near Monola.

#18

Engine #18 boiling out of the terminal yard at Laws in 1946 for a dramatic portrait of action on the last narrow gage common carrier in operation anywhere west of Colorado.

laws water and oil tanks

Laws Water and Oil Tanks
turntable gallows
Turntable at Laws, CA
Turntable Dimensions: Bed width - 14ft, Bed length - 56ft
Center support height from top of rail - 22ft
Turntable support pit - 18ft square
water break
Time for a water break at Aberdeen - 1947



leaving laws
Leaving Laws in 1954 with a spare baggage-mail car for traveling fans.


phony headlamp
Engine No. 9 with a phony stack and headlamp - 1956

restored no. 9
No. 9 restored to original operating condition.

restored no. 9
Refurbished Engine No. 9 in operation in Owens Valley.

kearsarge depot
Kearsarge Depot, an original C&C building - 1939
ebay auction item
Southern Pacific Engine No. 9 on the gallows turntable at Laws
(E-Bay auction item)

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uknown
Engine No. 22 somewhere in Owens Valley
(Photo courtesy Unknown)

unknown
Engine No. 9 somewhere in Owens Valley
(Photo courtesy Unknown)

laws water tower
Laws railroad yard in Owens Valley
(Photo courtesy Unknown)

zurich depot

Zurich depot along the SPNG in Owens Valley.

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slim princess
Engine No. 9 somewhere in Owens Valley
(Photo courtesy Unknown)

slim princess
Engine No. 9 somewhere in Owens Valley
(Photo courtesy Unknown)

zurich

Zurich Station - 1942

keeler

SPNG boxcar at the Huntley Industrial Minerals plant north of Laws

aberdeen

Aberdeen stop along the SPNG in Owens Valley

laws

SPNG water and oil tower at Laws depot

on the turntable

SPNG Engine #9 on the turntable at Laws
(Photo courtesy of Dennis Burke)

slim princess
The SPNG "Slim Princess" heading out of the south gate at Laws
(Photo courtesy of Dennis Burke)

on the turn table
SPNG Engine #9 on the turntable at Laws
(Photo courtesy of Dennis Burke)

on the turntable
SPNG Engine #8 on the turntable at Laws
(Photo courtesy of Dennis Burke)

on the turntable

SPNG Engine #18 on the turntable at Laws
(Photo courtesy of Dennis Burke)

on the turntable
SPNG Engine #22 on the turntable at Laws
(Photo courtesy of Dennis Burke)

laws
Here is a photo taken of Laws in 1939. You can spot the depot that is still on site on the left in the distance. The now vintage truck has pulled up to unload some sacks of potatoes to be loaded into the railroad box cars. On the near left are the two out houses with the coal shed between them. On the right is speeder tool shed. This photo is looking north from near the water tank. This is the Southern Pacific Narrow Gauge Railroad that began life as the Carson & Colorado Railroad in 1880 and reaached Bishop Creek, now Laws in 1883. Who was "Laws" named after and what was this persons intrest in the Owens Valley?
(Photo and text courtesy of Dennis Burke)




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potThis page was last updated on 03 February 2021pot