Saturday, May 29, 2010

East Station Wood Waterpipe Mystery

Friends of the Saline Valley Salt Tram
As the years pass, researching the true story of the Salt Tram is getting more difficult, as the abundant photos and written first hand accounts from that era find their way into landfills (instead of museums). We  are striving to rediscover the efforts of those who built and ran the Salt Tram, 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 Places2 

QUESTION 1:  What is the Station Number on the east side of the Salt Tram where the wood water pipe is located? Answer: Station 18 (answer courtesy of Alan).

QUESTION 2: What are the dimensions (length, diameter, circumference) of the pipe at both Station 18 and at the Salt Lake?

On June 12, 2010, we received an email from Bob S:
Hi  Tim and Brian,
     I was up at the salt tram summit station recently. Took a hike down the east side of the tram station in hopes of getting to the second control station. When I reached the second or third station from the top [2nd station], I believe they are called the anchorage and tension stations, I noticed  something that looks like a large diameter wooden water pipe lying alongside of the station. Do not know why the tram would have a water pipe there unless it was being transported over the mountain to the salt lake and it fell off the tram or a burro and it was left there. During your travels down the east side do you recall seeing it? See pictures 9A and 10A. You will have to zoom in on it. 
 I continued my hike down the east side and stopped at a point where there was two telephone poles. See picture 12A. It was at this spot that I could no longer see where the trail was and was not sure if the structure in the distance below me was the control station. Can you tell me if the structure I am referring to beyond the telephone poles is the second control station? [Yes, it is - see photo below] Since it had taken me 2 hours to reach this spot and I was not sure if the structure was indeed the control station, so I decided to head back up to the summit. It took me 4 3/4 hours to get back to the summit. It was a great day even though I did not reach my objective. I guess I am going to have to invest in a GPS and make things a little easier for myself. 
Best Regards, Bob S. 
 Our Reply: Hi Bob, yes, we have seen the waterpipe. It took us a while to figure out what the water pipe was doing alongside Station 18. The tramway was used for what they call in the tram vernacular "back traffic". Very handy when your operation is in the remote Saline Valley. (Brian at Station 18 with wood water pipe; click to enlarge):

It matches the waterpipes used down at the Salt Lake for transporting water from Hunter Spring to the the Salt Lake Evaporation Ponds. We have traced the water pipes down at the lake, and it is a combination of wooden water pipes and steel ones (click to enlarge):

Below: Steel water pipe at Salt Lake Marsh housing area in the lower left corner of the photo (click to enlarge; photo Courtesy Eastern California Museum):
Below: Steel water pipe being channeled into culvert for use in the salt evaporation ponds at the Salt Lake (click to enlarge; photo Courtesy Eastern California Museum):
Bob is correct that the circled Station in the photo is Control Station 2 (aka Station 15). Below is Bob's photo:

As Bob notes, the trail does indeed disappear from here. However, we believe that we have discovered where the every-so-faint trail goes in this area, and in fact, the Go-Devil route cuts through this general area as well. From the power pole above, there are 2 more stations between you and CS II (including the temp tramway. GPS may not have helped out.... :-)  The trail does, however, resume on the North side of Daisy Canyon, once you get to the bottom of it.

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