Friday, April 2, 2010

Summit Dog House Mystery!

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 1: What was the function of the Summit  Dog House? Examine the Summit Dog House in detail to ascertain its original function. Measure the dimensions of the doghouse and the dimensions of the lumber used to build it; compare the dimensions of the lumber to similar lumber on the Summit Station and Cabin in order to determine whether it was made from scraps from those structures, or from other lumber (perhaps from a later or earlier date?). 

QUESTION 2: When was the Dog House moved from its location in the "old" photo below to the photo from 2006? This means looking for Salt Tram summit photos with the Dog House in it, where the photos were taken over many different decades.

The Dog House Mystery: From the beginning - from the first time - that we saw what we immediately labeled "the dog house" on the north side of the summit station, we wondered "what the hell?". It looked like a long, tall dog house - too short for a human to stand in, but very substantial. Oh well. Who knows? Who'll ever know? Here's what it looked like in 2006 (click to enlarge):

Then we got to looking at some of the Eastern California Museum photos from their historical Salt Tram collection, and lo and behold (click to enlarge):
There it was - a detail in a relatively uninteresting photo that caught my eye: there's the Dog House! No question about it - they are one and the same. In the historical photo, its located almost under the tramway, appearing just slightly to the south of the line. What else was there? Yup - the pack mule / horse corral. Maybe it held hay in the winter time (when a roof was needed to protect the hay and grain)? Who knows, but next time we're up there, we are giving the summit dog house a good look again. We'd like to see if there are any clues to its original use, as we now know where it was located before being moved to its present location.

This is what makes the Salt Tram research so fun for us - its a game full of little puzzles, and if we solve enough of them, we'll have a comprehensive and interesting description of its history. If we don't, then it will be just another interesting but poorly documented history of man's endeavers to conquer the mountains and deserts. That's why we need everyone's help - we can't solve all of the mysteries to the Salt Tram by ourselves. Please contact us if you have ANY information about the Salt Tram - no information too small (just like this inconsequential photo that may lead us to solve the puzzle of the Salt Tram Summit Dog House Mystery!). Thanks!

Just for fun, I took the above 2 photos, and converted the modern photo to "sepia" in iPhoto and put them together into one photo of the two different eras. Clearly, these 2 photos are of the same structure (click to enlarge):

Here's the link on this blog to info on the summit corral:

Salt Tram Summit Corral


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