Saturday, October 17, 2009

Go-Devil Route to CS II

As the years pass, researching the true story of the Salt Tram is getting more difficult, as the abundant photos and written first hand accounts from that era find their way into landfills (instead of museums). We  are striving to rediscover the efforts of those who built and ran the Salt Tram, in order to give proper recognition to their hopes, dreams and abundant sweat from an era that is rapidly fading from our memories.  
We are actively seeking out information about the mining of Salt in Saline Valley between 1903 and the 1950's, including: documents, photos, articles, stories, artifacts, etc. If you can help us out, please email us at the address above - Thank-you! --Tim and Brian Waag, the Waag brothers (aka E. Clampus Waagus).
Caution (PLEASE READ): Climbing around on the tramway is dangerous because its really old and defnitely unsafe, so don't even think about it. Shoot, just getting to it requires some perilous hiking, and if you don't believe me, just take a look at the Zig Zag Access Trail (or what's left of it). Plus, climbing on it weakens it and endangers your life. Also, the Saline Valley Salt Tram is on the National Register of Historic Places and should be treated with the respect that it deserves. What little remains is of great historic value, and should not be disturbed in any way. Heck, its probably against the law to move parts of the tram around, and certainly a crime to take home some of the few bits of it that remain (though you'd have to ask your friendly local BLM agent for details). So please treat it with the respect it deserves, so that future generations can enjoy whats left, without you messing it up. Really. Please. You can see its listing on the National Register of Historic Places at these web links:
National Register of Historic Places 1          National Register of Historic Places 2

QUESTION1: Find the original Go-Devil Route from the Summit Station to the top of the Temporary Construction Tramway from the bottom of Daisy Canyon to Station 15. DONE MAY 2010! Congrats to Tom and Brian!!!

Background (October 2009): We did a trip to the Salt Tram in October 2009. One of our objectives was to match the Go-Devil historical photos to the scenery at the Salt Tram to determine where the photos were taken. This supported our other objective, which was to determine the Go-Devil route from the Summit Station to the top of the Temporary Tramway in the bottom of Daisy Canyon. On this trip, we failed to meet either objective. Below is a description of that effort.

Upon Alan's suggestion, I used google earth to look at Salt Tram Go-Devil routes. An 8 to 12 horse team moved salt tram building material loads from the Owens Lake Train Depot up to the summit, then they were switched from wagon to go-devil, and dragged down the bottom of daisy canyon until the top of the temporary tramway, where they were put on the tramway and trammed to Control Station 2.

Click on Google Earth Map (below) to see a full resolution map.


What a Ride! (Trenton, New Jersey to Tram Station 15)
- Tram built at Trenton Iron Co. in Trenton, New Jersey
- Railroad transported across country to tramway spur at Owens Lake ("Tramway")
- Loaded onto 8 to 12 horse teams to Horse Camp (1/2 way up to the Inyo summit)
- New horse team brought the load the rest of the way to the summit
- Transferred from horse team wagon to Go-Devil skid device and 2 mules
- Dragged down daisy canyon
- Loaded onto temp tramway and moved to Station 15
- Assumedly moved from Station 15 to Stations 11, 12, 13 and 14

Our goal is to find the go-devil route. This Google Earth Map will help find spots.

The spot we are looking for needs a flat staging area that allows for 2 teams of horses, a transfer of building material from horse wagon to horse go-devil team.

(The ASCE 1917 document alleges that the) go-devil employed 2 hook skids for brakes that were deployed going down hill, with the horse team in front. They must have done a lot of loads of material, therefore, there should be a path left over from these massive skids and massive loads. We should also find some artifacts (things that fell off), resting places, etc. along the route. Note that there is NO PHOTOGRAPHIC EVIDENCE WHATSOEVER that these "hooks" were EVER used.

Some spots are more likely than others. Start with the fact that the blue road is where the Charcoal Road (and the horse wagon loads) come up to the Inyo Ridge. From there, the loads are transferred to the Go-Devil, and then dragged down to the temporary tramway down below in Daisy Canyon.

Based on the location of the Old Charcoal Road, and the terrain on the East side of the Inyos in the vicinity of the Salt Tram are:

6 (theres a clearing for staging, and its the most direct route, and there
appears to be a road bed not attributed to erosion)
9 (the least steep route, but off the picture below; there's a road
going to it, diverting from the main ridge road)
1 (there's a appears to be a road bed not attributed to ersion)
2 - 3 (there appears to be a road bed not attributed to erosion)



Thanks Alan, for the tip.

On the October 2009 trip, we failed to match the Go-Devil photo below with the exact spot near the summit of the Inyos where this photo (below) was taken:

Note that the ridge road along these options runs about 2.5 miles. Therefore, I suggest that our plan on is to load up a pickup truck (with us) and DRIVE along the ridge road and check each one out,
then drive back to the summit station and get ready to hike down Daisy Canyon. We'll probably have to split up and hike down different paths shown in orange.

More technical information on the use of the Go-Devil's in moving Salt Tram building material will be posted on this blog in the future.



  1. The black and white photo with 6 horse team is towing the go-devil: a dragging device with a solid metal front axle and wheels, and skid plates in the rear (no rear wheels). It was used to drag heavy salt tram materials up or down the rough terrain, and in fact, I have several photos of the Go-Devil being used to drag huge Salt Tram gear wheels up the side of a vertical cliff! In addition, it had two
    deployable hooks back at the skids, used to act as brakes when going down hill. The hooks are what makes us optimistic that, almost 100 years later, we will be able to find the route used by the Go-Devil to drag gear down to the bottom of Daisy Canyon.