Sunday, December 13, 2009

Inyo Independent: February 24, 1911 article

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

QUESTION1: What is an electric road? (to understand this question, please keep reading - and yes, if you have an answer, please click on COMMENTS below and let us know - thanks!).

The Inyo Independent ran this article on page 2 of the Friday, February 24, 1911 Edition. Strangely, on the microfilm, this article was INSANELY fuzzy and nearly impossible to read. However, through readjusting the focus on different section of the article in the microfilm reader,
and then printing portion out at different zoom levels, we were able to read it. Because of this, I retyped the article for future (easy) reference. And since I have it already in a word document, it is easy to reproduce here as example of the type of Feature-Length articles we found about the Salt Tram in the Inyo Independent. Note that similar articles in its (assumed) rival over in Bishop, the Inyo Register, were more detailed and thorough.

I'm a photo guy, and I feel bad that there are no images or photos in this blog post to create interest, so I looked through our 46 photos from the research trip in November, 2009, to see if there were any of ME doing research, but no, only of the others since, of course, I'm the photographer! Instead, here's a photo I took on one of our morning walks around Indy before the library and courthouse opened. On the west side of the Salt Tram, they would always have a stunning view of the Sierras, that might look like this!

Inyo Independent Article
Friday, February 24, 1911 Edition
(note that I bolded key parts of the article for emphasis and easy reference).
Surveys for the Tramway of the Saline Valley Salt Company to start next week – electric road to Saline a possibility

Article Summary: The route survey for the tram to begin next week (approximately the beginning of March, 2011). Sufficient money raised (over $200,000 subscribed in stock with more to come) to build the tram. Tram manufacturer guarantees it will work perfectly. Tram will save money compared to railroad transportation ($2.50 per ton to Los Angeles via tram, compared to $11 per ton by train for salt from Michigan). Electric road also being considered, but unlikely.

Within another week the first surveys for the building of the tram of the Saline Valley Salt company will be begun and they will be completed as soon as it is possible. Engineers will be put to work to find the best route for bringing the immense deposits of salt in Saline valley to this side of the White Mountains.

The company has already raised enough money to be positive that they will have no trouble in carrying out the work as they plan it. Over two hundred thousand dollars of the stock has been subscribed and the balance of the amount they wish to raise will be subscribed within a short time. At present much of the stock is being bought by Inyo county people who realize that this is one of the best investments that has been put before the people here for a long time. The tram will be completed as fast as possible and as soon as it is finished the greater part of the fine salt used in the west will come from Saline Valley.

W. H. Leffingwell and N. J. Cooley recently returned from Salt Lake City, where they spent some time in looking over the workings of the different trams in that part of the country. They were more than pleased with the way the trams worked, and it was demonstrated to them that there is no reason at all why a tramway at the present stage of perfection cannot be made an entire success in carrying this salt over the White Mountains.

The manufacturers of these trams are willing to put them in and guarantee them to work perfectly. The latest model of tram will deliver the salt over the mountains for 50 cents per ton. This with a two dollar railroad rate to Los Angeles will make the transportation rate to Los Angeles $2.50 per ton, or saving of $11 per ton in transportation charges alone between Saline Valley salt and Michigan salt laid down in Los Angeles. The saline salt is the purest in the world, and is practically inexhaustible, so that with even the saving of part of this difference in freight rates for profit, it can easily be seen the enormous profits that the Saline Valley Salt Company will earn.

The perfection of tram as now constructed can easily be understood when one tramway in Utah at the present time delivers 3600 pounds of ore per minute, using only 3 men to run it.

Another mode of transporting the salt is under advisement at the present time, outside capital being interested in it. This consists in building an electric road either from Keeler or Olancha, passing near Darwin, and then to within eight miles of the salt fields. A spur would be run directly into the fields. This road would also handle all the ore from that district. While this later method is under advisement it is probable that the Salt Company will not seriously consider it as they are satisfied the tram will be an entire success, and the cost of transportation by railroad would be higher. The only reason for considering the proposition at all is because it would open up by railroad a country that has long needed railroad transportation.


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