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Lake Tahoe Trestle Tour

First Annual trestle tour on Lake Tahoe is done!

On October 4, 2008 the first Lake Tahoe Trestle Tour took place. The forecast called for rain and winds gusting to 25 MPH. Fortunately, the weather held out and it turned out to be beautiful for the tour. Here are some pictures:

Below: Dale and Nelson exploring the remains of the trestle that held up the tail track for the second switchback coming up from Glenbrook to Spooner Summit. A beautiful view of Lake Tahoe in the background.

tail track

Below:A view from the leg above the second switchback. The track going down went to the right from here, switched back to the left, and then switched back again and went down the valley on the upper right. The line was 8.75 miles altogether.

slaughterhouse valley


Trestle Tours take a group of people interested in Truckee area railroads on a tour of the surrounding hills to uncover artifacts of past railroads. The finds include old mill sites, railroad maintenance areas, rolling stock, old railroad grades, and yes, even trestles. This tour will cover the area overlooking beautiful Lake Tahoe. The original railroad ran from Glenbrook, on Lake Tahoe, to Spooner Summit. Lumber was then offloaded from the train to take a harrowing ride on a flume to Carson City. Click links to the right to learn more about the activity in the area.


Check back for the tour next year. Typically the tour is in late September / early October.


We recommend hiking gear; good boots or hiking shoes are a must. This is a backwoods adventure, so come dressed comfortably and prepared for an expedition. Please bring whatever food and drink you'd like to have--there will be no fast food available on this tour. Cameras are recommended. Cell phones are allowed, and should be turned off as we leave Truckee. The hike is about 3/4 mile along a sandy road. Some rough hiking, about 100 yards or so.


For Truckee Donner Railroad Society members the tour is free. Life Membership is $250 or $25 Annual membership. For nonmembers, donations are encouraged but not required. All proceeds collected go toward the development of the Truckee Railroad Museum.


The walk begins along state hwy 28 near Spooner Lake park. The car parking area is a wide spot alongside highway 28. It should park eleven regular cars. From the junction of hwy 28 and Lakeside Drive {south end of Incline Village} drive eight miles south to the wide spot / car park on the lake side of the highway. From the south it is one mile north of the entrance to Spooner Lake park. Park on the lake {west} side of the highway. The spot for parking is actually two separate shoulder areas divided by a gate which blocks access to the dirt road which is currently being used.


A brief history of the railroad to be covered:

A. W. Pray logged and milled lumber at Glenbrook in 1861.

In 1873 , Prominent Virginia and Truckee railroad affiliates, D.O.Mills and H.M. Yerington joined banker Duane L. Bliss  To form  Carson and Tahoe Lumber and Fluming Company. Experience operating the V&T railroad had shown the advantage of mechanized transport. D.L. Bliss surveyed a railroad from Glenbrook to the Spooner summit in 1874. The line was built from April through August , 1875. Spooner Summit is in the midst of a former logging landscape. Workers were housed at a small settlement called Summit Camp, built along one side of the toll road. Difficult terrain and tough conditions hampered work. Eleven trestles and 8.75 miles of railroad were built . The difficult route included switchbacks and a 487-foot tunnel just west of the summit. The line averaged two percent grade and has sections of four percent.

Six daily trains hauled six cars, 25,000 board feet of lumber per train, totaling 300 K bd ft / day. This wood was transferred to an 11-mile long V-flume that extended from Spooner Summit down Clear Creek to Carson Valley. There the wood was loaded on the Virginia and Truckee Railroad for the rest of its trip to the Comstock. At its peak the Comstock consumed about 80 million board feet of lumber and 2 million cords of firewood each year. This was a significant improvement over the ox teams used previously.

Students of lumbering came from all over to inspect the cutting edge operation. The train  was a popular ride , noted  scenic views  caused one unlucky sightseer a fatal fall from the train .

The line was out of business by 1898 . The railroad was barged across the lake to Tahoe city and on to Truckee to build the Lake Tahoe Railway and Transportation Co.

The Mill from Glenbrook was also taken to Truckee to rebuild the Truckee lumber mill which had fires in 1902 and 1903 .

Lumber industry around Tahoe. Learn about the lumber industry around Lake Tahoe, and how it drove the need for this railroad and flume.

Book on the subject. Read about Lake Tahoe transition from the early days of lumber to today.

Research it more. Records of the Carson and Tahoe Lumber and Fluming Company. See this overview of the CTL&FCo. records at UNR.


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