Saturday, February 20, 2010

Station 2 Analysis

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:

QUESTION 1:  Walk all the towers between Station 1 (the first station West of the Salt Lake) and Station 2 (the second station West of the Salt Lake and near the foot of the Inyo Mountains). Determine the reason that the numerous A-towers have fallen over (by the early 1960's, they were already down), and how much of the wood has been removed, if any. It has been suggested that they fell over when the tram cables were being collected and recycled, thought I question this. The cables were NEVER attached to these towers (they go through the guide wheels and saddles) and are close to the ground (little climbing necessary), so why wouldn't a person just extricate the cables from each tower, then haul the cable away, rather than go to all the extra effort to pull the cables so hard that dozens of towers were pulled off their concrete foundations?

QUESTION 2:  Using the photos in this post, carefully examine and analyze the fallen remains of Station 2. From the photo evidence on this page, it appears that no more pillaging of Station 2 took place between 1962 and the present, although the tower did fall over towards the north since 1962.

QUESTION 3:  See if the old road that weaves around the tramline between Station 1 and the Saline Lake can still be found (click on photo below -  taken around 1916) and walk it, looking for elements of the salt tram story.

(click on all photos to enlarge).

Notice: identification of this as Station 2 is only tentative, and will be confirmed at a future date.

It all started when some photos of what we believe is Station 2 in Saline Valley surfaced, which were taken somewhere around 1963. According to the 1917 ASCE document (Doc02), Station 2 is a "Anchorage and Tension Station". I am embarassed to admit that I'll have to figure that one out - we know that "tension" stations contain weighted boxes that take the slack out of the track cable, and (just a guess) that "anchorage" stations are the ones where the track cable is cemented into the concrete. I believe that Station 2 had 2 "Weight Boxes", that I believe would have tensioned both Track Cable towards Station 1 (just a guess). Need more research on this, as it is hard to ascertain from photos where the cables are attached.

In any case, here is a nice historical photos of Station 2, which we have visited numerous times:

The first photo shows Station 2 while looking to the west. It reveals the unusual sloped ladder access that is not commonly found on Stations - they usually have 1x6 boards hammered to the corner beams with 5 nails, to serve as access ladders (and scary ones at that, even back in the day!). Note that you can barely make out the pack trail in the background just to the left of the middle of Station 2. There is also an empty cable spool on the ground in the lower right corner.

Now we come to the exciting new photos that were taken in 1962 of Station 2. They show a partially dismantled station that is still standing from several different angles.

This 1962 photo of Station 2 shows that the western section of the tower has been removed, with the eastern part still standing.

This next 1962 photo gives a better look at what is left of the structure. There are 2 Weighted Boxes (the fat one on the left, and the tall skinny one on the right), along with the photo contributor's 1961 blue and white Scout on the bottom left of the photo.
This last photo is significant, because the many A-frame type of towers located between Station 2 and Station 1 are observed to be fallen over in present times, and apparently, they also had fallen over by the time these photos were taken in 1962.

Finally, a few modern day photos that show what is left today.

At right is a contemporary shot of Station 2 in its collapsed state. The photo is facing towards the Saline Lake. The "fat" Weighted Boxes is revealed by the exposed rock pile, while the  "skinny" Weighted Box is still standing. The remains of the tower itself fell towards the northwest.

Here is station 2 from high up on the hill above it. Station 2 is the largest structure in the photo, and closest to the bottom of the photo. One of our vehicles appears just to the left of the collapsed Station 2 structure.

Last but not least, here is a shot of Brian and his Landcruiser, with Station 2 in the background. He reminds me of the monster in some scary movie, but I can't remember exactly which one! (I think we decided it was the "Creature from the Black Lagoon").



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