Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Summit Corral Found and Examined! (Briefly)

Salt Tram history is rapidly disappearing, and we are striving to rediscover the efforts of our forefathers 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

QUESTION 1: What is Photo 3 (below)? When we first viewed the remains, we speculated that it was the remains of a hay feeder, as horses required hay and grain in this location, due to a lack of adequate grazing plants at this high elevation.  After investigating the summit "Dog House" feature, it might be the floor to that structure - we'll need to investigate that on the ground sometime. See Summit Dog House Mystery on this blogsite.

In 2009, a BLM Archaeologist told us about the Summit Corral that was somewhat hidden in the trees up at the Summit Station and the Caretaker's Cabin. On the next few trips to the Salt Tram for research, we ran out of time to find the Corral. He gave us an approximate location of the corral as being 200 feet or so North of the Caretaker's Cabin and on the West side of the summit 4x4 road. Sure enough, that's where it was. Though we did have time to examine the corral, time (as always) was short, and we had about 15 minutes to look it over. Like many Salt Tram features, the corral took advantage of the natural clearing and pinyon pines to craft the corral. 75% of the walls of the corral consist of use of the surrounding Pinyon Pines that were interlaced with bailing wire and the occasional free-standing, vertically oriented board in the tree. This section provided an effective barrier to escape for the stock animals. In addition, there are remains of the East facing wall of the Summit Corral that was made entirely of dimensional lumber. It appears that the entire lumber-constructed wall is still in situ, though obviously fallen down.

Photo 1 (click to enlarge): Front gate feature: remains of the East facing wall of the corral made from dimensional 1x lumber.

Photo 2 (click to enlarge): Google Earth Map. Red line indicates where I believed the Summit Corral was located, based on Mr. Halford's description; the smaller blue line shows the approximate location of the actual corral. Note that the corral lies entirely North of the Salt Tram line that runs through that area.

Photo 3 (click to enlarge): Alan E. stands near a prominent wood feature near the middle of the corral; we believe that this was a hay feeder for the horses. Note that based upon detailed examination, this feeder never had side walls (absense of nail holes), so the hay must have been set upon this wood apparatus to isolate the hay from the (often wet) soil. We ruled out the possibility that this was a displaced wall of the corral, as it would not have been tall enough to restrain stock animals, and it used 2x lumber for its foundation (this foundation is largely hidden by the 1x lumber nailed on top of it).

Note that while wandering around the Salt Tram Summit Station Corral area, we discovered a fairly expansive Salt Tram employee housing tent cabin site. This will be reported on in a future blog entry...Stay tuned.


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