Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Cliff Patterson Starts Work on Salt Tram

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

QUESTION 1: Where was the first surveyor's camp (referred to in the article below)?

This one is pretty easy. We know that Cliff Patterson began his salt tram construction diary on December 1, 1911. We know that construction of the tramway had already commenced on or around September 1, 1911 [check that date] with the arrival by railcar of the first shipment of salt tram parts from the Trenton Iron Company in New Jersey. We also know that Saline Valley Salt Company stock was already being sold in 1910, so plans for the Salt Tram at that time were pretty firm. 

Our periodical search of the Inyo Register revealed that Cliff Patterson (along with Ed Schober and Loland Varnoy) were already employees of the Saline Valley Salt Company on April 6, 1911, when this article appeared (click to enlarge):
The article announces that Ed, Cliff and Loland were to start work establishing a camp for the surveyors of the various possible Salt Tram routes. They were met by Roub Spear and his pack train, which was assumedly transporting the supplies for the establishment of the camp.

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