First gondola of salt arriving at the Swansea terminal in Owens Valley in 1913.

Saline-to-Owens-Valley Tramway 3

All pictures from the Eastern California Museum unless otherwise noted.
See USE NOTICE on Home Page.

daisy canyon
Daisy Canyon Trail
[Photo courtesy of Rich McCutchan archives]
[Photo taken by Miles O. Bolser circa 1912-1913]

daisy detail
Daisy Canyon Trail Detail
[Photo courtesy of Rich McCutchan]

Salt tramway in operation early 1900's
Photographs of the mule trail system constructed to build and supply the salt tram are virtually non-existent. This photograph (above left) is a rarity.

The section shown is in the most rugged part of Daisy Canyon, where the tram jumps between the north and south sides and the cables hang some 700 feet over the bottom of the canyon. The sides are of broken, ragged, crumbling rock at an angle of about 70 degrees.

Saline Valley is to the left. The photograph looks south. Coming from Saline the trail has ascended to the last tram support on the south side before the suspension across the canyon. The trail leaves this support following a horizontal cut through the broken rock and enters the photograph on the left at the top. It descends the zig zags in a debris slide at the same 70 degree slope. Four hundred vertical feet later, where the wall is not so steep, the trail laterals west to intersect the bottom of the canyon off the right side of the photo.

The zig zags are gone - claimed by rock slides. Two years ago I followed the trail from Saline and stood at the upper lip of the zig zags, the trail's apparent and unexplained end. Looking down the debris slide I decided no trail could descend it an instead scrambled up, looking for more trail - unsuccessful, of course. A year later I was with a group following the tram from the crest, discovered the bottom lateral, and realized that the trail did indeed use the slide. We found occasional broken remnants of the trail at a few of the switchback corners.

Miles Bolser did a magnificent job. Not only did he climb the opposite wall, just as rugged as the wall he photographed, but he timed it after a snowfall, then after traffic so the trail would show better, and then waited for a descending mule train. Looking closely you can see between six and eight mules and two mule skinners.

[Text - Tom Budlong, August, 1993. Provided by Rich McCutchan, April 2006]

Salt dryer output end circa 1916.

salt production
Saline Valley Salt Company production site in Saline Valley.

Workers harvesting salt in Saline Valley.

Worker riding tram over Daisy Canyon. This was the common mode of transportation in and out of Saline Valley for the workers.

loading cars
Loaded cars arriving at the salt works, post 1916.

salt works
Salt works in operation, early 1900's.

 Saline Valley Aerial Tramway Location/Map

12 mule team
A 12-mule team pulling a salt works construction skid in 1912.

salt tram
Salt Tram terminal in Saline Valley, circa 1920.

Saline Valley Salt Company employees.

harvesting salt
Workers harvesting salt in Saline Valley in early 1900's.

hauling cable
Pack mules hauling cable, all in one piece, through Daisy Canyon during construction in 1912.

leaving terminal 
Riders leaving the Saline Valley terminal.

Salt gondolas waiting to b e loaded


salt tram
Sat being loaded into the tram cannisters.

salt tram
Cannister filled with salt on its way from Saline Valley to Keeler.

salt tram
Cannister filled with salt on its way from Saline Valley to Keeler.
Saline Valley

salt tram
Cannister filled with salt heading into the terminus at Keeler.

Looking east over Saline Valley, early 1900's

operation tram
Tramway in operation, early 1900's.

Salt Tram, west side, after 1916.
Owens Valley Lake
can be seen in the background.

salt dryer
Salt dryer in the Saline Valley, circa 1916.

summit station
Summit tower construction circa 1912.

Saline Valley terminus post 1920.

salt tram
Saline Valley Salt Tram, circa 1916.

Construction of the salt tram in 1912.

tram bucket

Saline Valley Salt Tram, circa 1916.
L to R: Bob Crosby, unknown, unknown, George Diebert, Bill Chalfant, Arthur Hess.

salt piles 
Piles of harvested salt awaiting loading.

salt piles

(for full size picture click here)
Piles of harvested salt.
L to R: Miles Bolser, H.J.R.
[Photo Courtney of Rich McCutchan archives]
[Photo taken by Miles O. Bolser circa 1912-1913]

Inyo Summit Control Station ruins with Mt. Whitney and the High Sierra in the background.
[Gene Stoops photo]

Salt Tram profile from Saline Valley to Owens Valley.

tram tower
Salt tram tower in the Inyo Mountains in the early 1900's.

transfer station
Saline Valley Transfer Station. One of the problems confronting the tram operation was the tremendous weight at any one time on the cables. This had to be counter balanced by anchors in piles of rocks. The piles of rocks were called "deadmen." This was one location

tram towers
Saline Valley Salt Works tram towers heading towards the Inyo Mountains and Daisy Canyon.

Swansea terminal
Saline Valley Salt Company terminal at Swansea, circa 1916.

Swansea terminus
Salt Tram terminus near Swansea circa 1916.

Further Reading on the Saline Valley
Guide to the Remote and Mysterious Saline Valley by William Jack Mann (2002)
Making "out of print" and "hard to find" books easier to find.

Photo Cards courtesy of Rich McCutchan

saline valley
Saline Valley Salt Works workers

saline valley
Piles of salt in Saline Valley, CA

saline valley
Saline Valley, CA
saline valley
Saline Valley, CA

saline valley
Saline Valley, CA
saline valley
Out for a ride on the the Saline Valley salt fields.


Early Bishop Residents  

Mary Austin  

Carson & Colorado Railroad

More, Saline Valley Salt Tramway


 High Sierra Pack Stations


 Willie A. Chalfant

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This page was last updated on 14 September 2019