sit properly Posted June 22, 2011 Report Share Posted June 22, 2011 (edited) I first visited Promontory, the site of the Golden Spike Park commemorating the completion of the Transcontinental Railroad, in 2008. While there, I was told by a park ranger that the old Central Pacific grade could be followed for nearly 100 miles west of Promontory. Being a huge rail buff, I was excited, but figured that I'd never get to do it. Thankfully, I was wrong. My gal Sarah and I decided to visit a couple of friends in Salt Lake City. She, as usual, left the trip planning to me. Bless her heart. And her Toyota Yaris. Though I posted a bit about it in my blog, I'll recap here. We started from Seattle, hitting a few fun spots along the way. The most fun was Emigrant Hill near Route 30 in Oregon. I've not been able to find out if it was actually part of the Oregon Trail, but I believe it was originally US Route 30. Quite a bit of fun. You can see photos from that here. We made it to Twin Falls, ID the first day, visiting the canyon and the Evel Knievel jump site on the morning of the next. After accidentally blowing by an old alignment of Route 30, we dipped south, past City of Rocks on Lynn Road. This seemed to be some sort of emigrant trail called the California Trail, but it was kind of hard to tell. Anyway, we entered Utah on a dirt road, which is quite fitting. Every trip with me somehow involves trains, old highways, the civil war and dirt roads. I'm pretty good at hitting all four. We were in Sarah's new Yaris and the dirt was piling up. She was a little nervous. The road was rutted here and there, but otherwise fine. Finding where the Central Pacific RR trail starts was difficult. It's not well marked and I completely failed at doing my research. Turns out, it's five miles off Utah State Route 30 near Lucin, which is just a name, not a town. We arrived with about a quarter tank of gas. This was bad news. According to the GPS, the nearest gas station was 45 miles away on I-80 via dirt roads. Using my intuition, I decided two things. First, we needed gas and water. Second, gas was closer than 45 miles away. We hit State Route 30 again, headed south and into Nevada, which we had already been to in looking for the old rail bed. Twenty miles later, we found Montello, a town with an interesting history and thankfully a gas station. We filled up, got some water and headed back to the rail bed. From here, I could describe the next 90 or so miles, but wouldn't do it justice. The photos can't do it as much as it deserves, but they are much better than words. For that, I direct you here. We traveled the old railroad grade as much of the way as possible, even getting a bit lost during a detour. I was trying to get to the Golden Spike Park before it closed. I failed, but we had a bunch of fun. There's not much out there. Some old town sites with a LOT of debris, and just open land. It's beautiful and dangerous. If anything went wrong, you were stuck there for awhile. We saw no cars the entire five or six hours that it took us. Two ATVs zoomed past us, but that's it. We faced a decision concerning a very large mud puddle that engulfed the entire road. To go through it meant that we stood a good chance of getting stuck. Without cell reception, getting stuck meant walking 30 miles to get to a phone (at least). Turning around would mean driving 60 miles and then 150ish to get to Salt Lake City. Also, it would be a huge bummer. Since it was her car, I let Sarah decide what to do. She suggested we take the little thing off roading. We did and made it. There's a video of that with the photos. You'll see. That night, we made it to our friends' house and to some wonderful veg Chinese food. Salt Lake City! The next day, we went back to the Golden Spike Park, saw the reenactment of the ceremony (which was cheesy and quaint all at the same time - but hey, they have two working steam engines, so I let it slip). We also stopped at the Spiral Jetty, which needs to be seen to be believed. Also, more veg food in SLC. We also visited Temple Square. Pics of that are here. The following day was mostly US 50 through Nevada. I've done it before, but it's always wonderful. You can see such things here. The highlight for me was the stop in Ely to see a working steam railroad machine shop. I was in heaven. I might do a separate post about that in the LH forum. We shall see. -Eric Edited June 22, 2011 by sit properly Quote Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...
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