Monday, April 26, 2010

Let's Have Some Fun: Old & New!

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

We like to review old photos of the Salt Tram, and then hike around, trying to find where the photos were taken - and then snap a photo that approximates the original as much as possible. We've done a bunch of them, but lets start with a few fun ones, and we can introduce more when we're bored! Hope you like them. (click to enlarge):

This first side-by-side is of Station 11 on the east side of the Inyos.  It is the last tower before the tramline crosses the Daisy Canyon abyss as it heads towards Saline Valley. One can only wonder what it was like to ride the line over the chasm that extends down more than 1,000 vertical feet from the salt buckets!

This next one is also a favorite. On the left is the tramline on its way into the Discharge Station on the shores of Owens Dry Lakebed. The flag hanging from the bucket identifies it as the first carrier filled with salt that made the first of many journies over the Inyo Mountains. The first bucket arrived near Swansea on July 2, 1913 - an amazing 2 hour journey from 1,000 feet of elevation in Saline Valley, to the saddle in the Inyo Crest at approx. 8,500 feet, then down to Ownens Lake at about 4,000 feet. Today, all that is left at this site is an almost completely destroyed tram station at the lip of the ridge, and the concrete foundations of 2 large towers shown in the historic picture at the left.

We were able to obtain this historic photo of 4 men at one of the Salt Tram's many tent cabins. We had no idea where this photo was taken, but we had an idea. In March 2010, we headed up the Swansea Grade to Control Station 4 (Station 29), and sure enough, found the foundation for this tent cabin. Brian and Laura posed as the salt tram workers, and I snapped this shot, which is a pretty good match. I drew the cabin in the modern photo in photoshop to give you an idea of where it stood. Note that Brian is supposed to be imitating the photo by holding a wrench across his knee (unclear on the concept) and Laura is supposed to be holding the cook's spatula (check) and frying pan (oops!).


No comments:

Post a Comment