THE PROMONTORY BRANCH STATIONS
Original cadastral survey maps and documents from the Southern Pacific Railroad Company have proved invaluable for research of the facilities along the Promontory Branch. The integration of information from these sources, coupled with field investigations, made it possible to identify, locate, and date the operations for 28 stations along the abandoned railroad grade between Nevada and Promontory Summit (Fig. 16, 18, 19 and Appendix I).
Railroad stations are distinguished by differences in function (section stations and freight sidings) and by dates of use. Section stations include the original stations built in 1869 as shown in Figure 15. These include historic Lucin, Bovine, Terrace, Matlin, Gravel Pit, Ombey, Kelton, 10-Mile (Seco), Lake, and Rozel. As the Central Pacific Railroad progressed eastward, sites for section stations were located and built upon. Some of the section stations correspond to end of track construction camps. Work crews would be left behind to build the section station as the vanguard of the railroad construction forces moved on to Promontory.
Ten to twelve miles of track separate each section station. The stations contained the facilities and materials necessary to accommodate work crews responsible for maintenance of the ten to twelve mile section of track. Some of the tasks that section crews performed include maintenance and replacement of culverts and bridges, replacement of railroad ties and ballast, and installation of newer heavier rails to accomodate ever larger locomotives. Water aqueducts, wells, and holding tanks required renewal and enlargement. Section stations were also the homes of locomotive engineers who often ran "helper" engines which aided freight-laden transcontinental trains over steep grades.
The typical facilities at a section station included a section house, eating and sleeping accommodations, water tank, freight platform, light duty turntable (later replaced with a wye), a siding, and/or a spur. Terrace was the largest section station; in fact it served as the principal maintenance and repair outlet for the Promontory Branch.
Freight sidings, included Medea, Walden, Watercress, Red Dome, Romola, Peplin, Zias, Elinor, Nella, Monument, Kosmo, Centre, and Metataurus. Most of the freight sidings were installed around the turn of the century to accommodate the ever increasing rail traffic, population growth, and grazing industry. Railroad sidings at section stations as well as at freight stations allowed trains to pass others going in the opposite direction and those trains loading freight or taking on water. The facilities at a freight siding included a loading platform, train carbody, and a siding. There is no evidence that permanent populations inhabited freight sidings.
Construction camps, towns and stations are described in order of location from Nevada eastward to Promontory Summit. The legal locations provided may appear erroneous since sidings or towns are often linearly extensive along the track grade, many approaching one-half of a mile long. Legal locations refer to the point where Southern Pacific Railroad officials have determined the station's mileage from One Market Plaza, San Francisco.
The following definitions, particularly applicable to the succeeding station descriptions are included here as an aid and convenience to the reader.
Round house - An arc shaped building for housing and repairing locomotives.
Section house - The house and facilities necessary to accommodate section crews responsible for maintenance of a designated linear section of track (about ten to twelve miles).
Siding - Sidings, approaching half a mile in length, were installed parallel to the main track to allow trains to pass slow moving or on-coming traffic. An additional use included the loading/unloading of freight or livestock. Note: Not to be confused with handcar pull-offs.
Train carbody - A dismantled railroad car placed upon level ground, for use as living quarters, storage, or as a freight office.
Turntable - A railroad track platform which rotates allowing locomotives to turn around.
Wye - A "Y" shaped railroad siding which enables locomotives to turn around (Fig. 17).
Last Updated: 18-Jan-2008