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For this series we will follow Southern Pacific trackage from east of Reno, NV to Winnemuca and then follow the paired trackage with the Western Pacific to Wells. We will chase a train across the salt flats near the Great Salt Lake and finally catch a couple double stack trains at a little outpost called Modena.
The Central Pacific (later SP) reached Reno in June 1868 and in just eleven months reached the Union Pacific line at Promontory. The site of the golden spike was bypassed when the SP completed the Lucin cutoff in 1904. From 1906 through the 20s, the SP added a second mainline over Donner Pass and to portions of the railroad in Nevada and Utah that had long grades. The SP and WP had operated their parallel trackage between Wells and Winnemucca in a directional fashion on occasion during WWI. In 1924, the two railroads entered into a formal agreement to operate westbound on the SP and eastbounds on the WP. Signals had already been installed on the SP between 1906 and 1910. New directional signals were installed on the WP. These old style B semaphore signals on the WP between Alazon and Weso were converted to searchlight signals in 1951. See the map below the links to get a better idea where we are going on the former Western Pacific.
The Southern Pacific completed the installation of CTC between Vista (east of Sparks, NV) and Massie (east of Hazen), (43.5 miles) in August 1944 and from Bridge Siding across the Great Salt Lake cut-off to Lemay (52.8 miles) in May 1945. It completed CTC from Moor to Valley Pass around 1947, Massie to Perth in 1958 and Weso to Rose Creek in 1970. The Western Pacific completed the installation of US&S CTC across its single track sections of Nevada between 1949 and 1952. The Wendover to Salt Lake City segment was completed in 1953.
To give you a better idea of what railroading was like in the early 1920s, here is an excerpt from the September 1921 Southern Pacific Bulletin. The SP set a new record by operating the heaviest train to ever enter Ogden when Extra 3209 East came in with 76 perishables and 28 manifest loads, 4,631 tons at 4,680 feet long. This train was the consolidation of three trains. It operated from Monticello, NV to Ogden (121 miles) in seven hours and 40 minutes. This was considered an average time on the road.
All pictures in this series are on disks 28, 29 and 30. You can purchase a disk and printout any of the pictures for your own use to dress up your train room or add color to a house that just cries out for more train pictures.