Tonopah and Tidewater Railroad

Tonopah and Tidewater Railroad

Infobox SG rail
railroad_name=Tonopah and Tidewater Railroad
locale=Ludlow, California and Beatty, Nevada
hq_city=Ludlow, California
The Tonopah and Tidewater Railroad was a class II railroad extending through remote reaches of the Mojave Desert at Ludlow, California, through Death Valley and terminating at the mining camps of southwestern Nevada. The railroad was listed as a common carrier but was built by Francis Marion Smith primarily to transport his borax. The line is now completely abandoned.

Grading began on the line on July 30, 1905 and 50- and 65-pound rails were laid starting on November 19, 1905. The line was completed on October 30, 1907. The T&T tracks ended at Gold Center, Nevada. At Gold Center the T&T reached into Beatty, Nevada with joint trackage rights with the "Brock Road" Bullfrog Goldfield Railroad. The T&T also reached Rhyolite, Nevada over the Bullfrog Goldfield trackage via the connecting wye at Gold Center. From 1908 - 1914 the Bullfrog Goldfield Railroad (also serving the mines around Beatty) was combined into the T&T, and then combined again in 1918 after the demise of the Las Vegas & Tonopah Railroad. The T&T 'owned' and ran both lines under a 'new railroad' from 1920 until January, 1928.

The T&T also had a 7-mile branch that ran from its mainline at Death Valley Junction, California to the Lila C. mine with the station named "Ryan". At Horton, California the T&T separated from the narrow gauge Death Valley Railroad. The DVRR ran for 21 miles from Death Valley Junction west to Devar (later renamed Ryan, not the same "Ryan" at the Lila C. mine) via Colmanite and was abandoned in 1931. The T&T branch had 3 rail tracks (both narrow and standard gauge) from Horton to Death Valley Junction. The T&T branch was built in 1907 and the DVRR was built in 1914. The branch to the Lila C. was removed not long after all operations were transferred to Devar ('New' Ryan).

Originally the railroad intended to build from Las Vegas to Death Valley but grading was terminated in 1905 due to rate problems with the San Pedro, Los Angeles & Salt Lake Railroad. The San Pedro, Los Angeles and Salt Lake Railroad was later shortened to Los Angeles and Salt Lake Railroad and is now the Union Pacific mainline between Los Angeles and Salt Lake City.

The railroad struggled to survive as borax was all of its business. Once the borax operations were moved to Boron, California, the line relied upon whatever traffic could be found. USB had long 'picked up' the 'losses' from the operations. Discussions for cessation/abandonment were started as early as 1930. After the major flood of 1933, Ludlow was abandoned and operations ran north from Crucero (Los Angeles & Salt Lake Railroad). The 26 miles of track between Crucero and the T&T's connection with the Santa Fe Railway at Ludlow was placed out of service on October 8, 1933. After the flood of 1938, applications for abandonment were pursued.

By 1940 the entire line was out of service and in July 18, 1942 scrapping began at Beatty and terminated a year later at Ludlow. Final abandonment with the I.C.C. was approved on December 3, 1946.


*Mike Walker, SPV's Comprehensive Railroad Atlas of North America - California/Nevada Post Merger Edition, (Steam Powered Publishing & SPV, 1997) Ownership and detail of rail lines.
*cite book | author=Robertson, Donald B.| title=Encyclopedia of Western Railroad History - Volume IV - California| location=Caldwell, ID | publisher=The Caxton Printers | year=1998| editor=| id=ISBN 0-87004-385-4
*John A. McCulloch, [ Tonopah & Tidewater Railroad historical information]
*Genne Nelson, A Brief History of the Furnace Creek Area (1849-1954), Chapter Q in Michael N. Machette, Margo L. Johnson, and Janet L. Slate (eds.), [ "Quaternary and Late Pliocene Gology of the Death Valley Region: Recent Observations on Tectonics, Stratigraphy, and Lake Cycles (Guidebook for the 2001 Pacific Cell--Friends of the Pleistocene Fieldtrip)"] (USGS, 2001)
* [ Route map circa 1907, from UNLV Libraries]

External links

* [ 1907 Tonopah and Tidewater RR map (~6.5MB)]
* [ Article on the abandoned Tonopha and Tidewater; includes pictures and map.]

ee also

*List of defunct United States railroads
*List of California railroads
*List of Nevada railroads

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