Thursday, April 29, 2010

Tram Power Pole Route

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

For whatever reason, the electrical power for the Salt Tram ran on separate power poles that ran parallel to and south of the tram line itself. It is likely that nobody has walked this power pole route, since the days when occasional repairs to the power lines were required back in the days when the tram was running. The Inyo Register reported in 1913 that the power lines were hit by a lightening strike that took out 22 power poles, and it is likely that wind occasionally took them down as well.

We would like to walk as much of the power pole route as possible, especially on the more difficult eastern side of the tramway, to see what is there. The photo at right is one of the power poles that is still standing on the west side of the tramway.

Below is a google earth map of the east side of the tramway, where the power pole route is clearly shown. The power pole route was cleared of trees to the same distance as the tram line was, it would seem from the googe earth image.

Note also that in the historic photo below that there are stacked power poles in the foreground, with the bases soaked in creosote (or some other liquid) that would retard their deterioration in the ground. This photo is courtesy of the Eastern California Museum. Click to enlarge.

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