Transcontinental Railroad Trip Report (September 2012)

Bright and early on Saturday morning we met up at the Golden Spike National Historic Site and wandered around a little bit before we struck out westward along the old Transcontinental Railroad grade.

The purpose of this trip was to document the old railroad grade and what remains of the sidings and towns that once lined it with GPS and ample photographs. The last comprehensive study of any kind was by the BLM thirty years ago in 1981. And while it was a very thorough study, those of us interested in the area wanted to see some updated information.

Relying on the published BLM study to find the old sidings and towns our first stop was Monument. At some point in the past, the BLM placed wooden markers at the locations of each of the sidings. Unfortunately many are shot up nearly to the point of being unreadable, or simply missing as was the case with Monument.

The next location was Nella. As you can see, the BLM sign has seen better days.

We continued along the grade to the town of Kelton. Here we found the old Wheeler survey marker. This was where the US Army sent out a reconnaissance group west of the 100th meridian to create maps in 1869. It was later surveyed again by the USGS in 1957.

Kelton was one of the largest towns along the route, so there are many ruins to look over. There used to be quite a few structures here, but arsonists and vandals have taken their toll over the years, unfortunately.

From Kelton we found our way to Ombey, Romola, and Matlin sidings. Each one of these sidings had plenty of ties left on the ground and wyes to look at. The further west we got, the better condition the sites got.

We then came to Terrace and its cemetery. Terrace had been the largest town along the line through Nevada and Utah until Ogden. It at one time boasted a population of several thousand; many railroad buildings for servicing engines and cars, and a residential and commercial district. When the railroad was rerouted the population quickly left and the town died. Interestingly, in the cemetery we found a gravestone from 2001 marking the death of a child in 1908.

After Terrace we completed the last of the 90 mile route to Lucin and connection with the “new” transcontinental railroad. To get there we passed Walden, Bovine, Medea, and the original town site for Lucin.

When we reached the ghost town of Lucin we all got out and poked around the ruins for a bit. If you haven’t been to Lucin, try to get out there. Either along the TCRR or up from Wendover. It’s a really neat place.

After Lucin we bombed down the county road past the Sun Tunnels and to Wendover where we stopped from some lunch at the Speedway Café and then home to Salt Lake.

Thanks to everyone who came along. It was a fun trip and a great start for Expedition Utah’s Featured Trail Article on the TCRR. If you have pictures from the trip, please share them here so we can gather them up and use some of them for our Featured Trail Article. We’ll probably also be going out a few more times to get more info and find some of the “missing” sidings on the eastern side, so keep looking in the Upcoming Trips section for that!

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