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Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Driving the Transcontinental Railroad National Back Country Byway

Also known as the Central Pacific Railroad Grade, the 90-mile road, the Promontory Branch, winds through remnants of railroad camps, towns, and trestles. 
 We drove north about 45 miles from the salt flats over Leppy Pass along the eastern edge of Pilot Mountain to the abandoned RR town of Lucin.
Along our path we crossed the infamous Hastings Cutoff. Pilot Peak to the north.
We arrived at Lucin the beginning of the byway. This old dugout is the only structure remaining in the abandoned RR town. Although there were two circular concrete railroad dispatcher telephone booths still standing near the road crossing.
Our mapping program showed a body of water east of Lucin. An old pipeline was still bringing water down from the Pilot Mountains. Quite a surprise, this small oasis in the desert.
The original railroad grade has remained unchanged since the Lucin Cutoff was constructed in 1903. It traversed a more difficult route, 42 miles longer, from Lucin, around the north end of the lake to Brigham City. It travels along the northern rim of the Great Salt Lake Depression.
 About 10 miles east of Lucin.
 Most of the old trestles need to be bypassed.
 A few of the smaller trestles can still be used.
  Not much remains of the abandoned RR town of Terrace, Utah. The sign notes that in the maintenance yard there was a 16 stall roundhouse. I read that most of the homes were moved to Montello, Nevada.
 The Terrace Cemetery can be found about 1/2 mile east of the town. Terrace Mountain in the background.
  Few markers remain in this lonely place. This is one that can still be read.
 Storm clouds forming to the west.
 Driving around the eastern edge of Terrace Mountain looking for a site to camp.
 We decided to camp on the southern shoulder of Terrace Mountain. View from our camp looking SW.
After sitting for a while in camp I decided to hike to the summit of Terrace Mountain. After hiking for ten minutes I photographed this view of our camp with the New Foundland Mountains to the south.
 Sunset from the summit of Terrace Mountain. When we stayed in the next motel of this I searched the internet looking for information about this remote peak. On of the places that mentioned the mountain was a neat peakbagging site named Peakery, which I joined, all because of this little mountain that stands alone a few miles south of the old transcontinental RR.
 Dawn at our Terrace Mountain camp.
 Jan discovered this aged spike
and I found this old drug vial near our camp.
 Both items are still there if you would care to give them a closer examination.
 Terrace Mountain from the RR grade.
On the road again.
While charting our route I noticed an curiously named feature on the map. It was named, "The Fingerpoint." We decided to take a 40 mile detour and visit.
 End of the road, at the tip of "The Fingerpoint." On the east side of the point there is some sort of pumping station.
 Returning from "The Fingerpoint." Nothing much interesting at the point. Don't believe we will be visiting again.
 Driving east toward the Golden Spike NHS. We stopped following the grade about 15 miles from Promontory Summit. The surface of the route became a constant series of potholes and ruts and there was a well surfaced county road headed to the same destination.
 The our drive along the Transcontinental Railroad National Back Country Byway ends at this a 1½ mile section of track that was relaid for the centennial anniversary in 1969.
On May 10, 1869 Promontory Summit was the location of quite a celebration. Union Pacific's No. 119 and Central Pacific's No. 60 (named the Jupiter) are replicas built back the 1970's. The original locomotives were sold for scrap in the early 1900's.
We departed GSNHS and drove on to Odgen. Needed five gallons of our extra fuel on this trek.


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