Sunday, January 10, 2010

Mighty Halford's Summit Adventure!

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 1940'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 SUMMARY: We plan on doing an entire chapter on the rebuilding of the Summit Station Operator's Cabin, as well as the stabilization of the fairly well pillaged Summit Station itself.

QUESTION 1: Get the Summit Station Operator's Cabin Floor Plan from Brian of Lone Pine (he gave me a copy and I lost them!)

QUESTION 2: Get the story of this near heroic task straight from the horse's mouth (so to speak), from BLM Archaeologist Kirk Halford himself. Sadly, Mr. Halford has gotten a job upgrade and is on his way out of the state, to Idaho I believe. He says he'll come through for us with the story, so we'll wait and hope. For the record, he's been very supportive of our Salt Tram Research, and everybody says he's a great guy, so we're sad that we never got a chance to actually meet him (we've only talked to him over the phone).

QUESTION 3: Get the paperwork on the work. Greg Haverstock of the same Bishop BLM office says their office took some fine photos of the project (really, 2 projects), as well as filled out a lot of paperwork that we would probably find useful, so he's gonna see if he can get us a copy.

QUESTION 4: Get more historical photos of the Summit Station Operator's Cabin, since we only know of 1 to exist, but surely there must be more (you'll see the one below somewhere).

May 2010 Update: Hey, I found this really cool 360 degree photo of the Salt Tram at Salt Tram Summit 360 . Part of what makes it so special is that it was taken BEFORE the BLM Bishop repair of the Summit Station, but AFTER the repair of the Summit Cabin. Look carefully at the Summit Tram Station, including the *doghouse*. Also, BLM Bishop has a file on their Salt Tram Summit Station that I haverequested a copy of from their office - maybe I'll get it someday :-)

Salt Tram Summit Cabin and Summit Stabilization Project: Planned, Designed, Funded, Managed and Built out of the Bishop BLM Field Office (Manager: Kirk Halford, Archaeologist).

First off, we need to know what to call the cabin in question. We've always called it the the Salt Tram Summit Station Caretaker's Cabin, but now we realize that is not really an accurate title, though it is possible that during times when the Salt Tram was idle and expected to start back up that a caretaker was hired to "guard" the Summit Station and got to live in the cabin. This, of course, is the typical role of a "caretaker" in a mining setting. However, that is not likely to be the reason it was built. Without a shred of historical evidence, we will guess that the cabin was built contemporaneously with the Salt Tram itself, as were the other Salt Tram cabins spread out along the Salt Tram fairway. Also, the altitude of the Summit Station is pretty high (my National Geographic Topo software says the tram crosses over the summit at 8,736 feet, so that should be approximately correct), and gets some pretty severe weather up there, especially in the winter. This leads me to conclude that the cabin was built to support the poor summit station operator (or two), and perhaps even their families. Therefore, the name "Salt Tram Summit Station Operator's Cabin" (the long name)  or "Salt Tram Summit Cabin" (the short name) or "Summit Cabin" (the really short name) seem to be appropriate names for the cabin. Now that we've got that settled, let's move on:

On February 7, 2008, BLM Archaeologist Kirk Halford was awarded the "Outstanding Public Land Professional" award and you can read about Mr. Halford's amazing service to the Salt Tram Summit Cabin and Station at this link:
Kirk Halford's Summit Adventure!

We did manage to borrow a few useful photo from this link to support this post (we'll give them back when we're done; ie, when TASK3 above is completed - thanks for letting us borrow them).

You can also find a nice article in PDF format at this link (located in an article on page 31 -33 of this publication: Society for California Archaeology Newsletter, Volume 35, Number 4, December 2001):


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