Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Laws Narrow Guage Railroad

Inyo County, August 30, 1993

A short four mile drive out of Bishop on Highway 6 brings the Caddy to the old station and a great site to visit and get an idea of what a village built around a train station would have been like a hundred years ago. Hats off to the Slim Princess chapter of E Clampus Vitus and the people of Bishop to jump on the preservation of these buildings and equipment and maintain it for the fifty plus years since the railroad went under. As far as can be surmised, ‘slim princess’ refers to the narrow gauge locomotive, in this case, engine No. 9, which is still there. During this particular trip this author came away with a handful of old regional postcards from the reception center.

There is one nagging question about this railroad’s existence, why run a train up and down 300 miles of track and not go anywhere? No offense to Mound House, Nevada and Keeler, California but they don’t sit high on the destination list. The situation was a little different when the railroad was built and the Comstock rush was still on, and at Mound House you could transfer to the Virginia and Truckee east-west line, and southbound they intended to make it run to the Colorado River, though it never did. Also, when this railroad came into existence, Keeler was more of a happening place. It sat on Owens Lake, had a wharf where the ‘Bessie Brady’ steamship would haul ore and people, and a silver boom was on. The mines dried up, the lake dried up due to water diversion to Los Angeles, and trucking dried up the freight business and the last thing the little railroad could do. Today, Mound House is home to a brothel known as ‘Bunny Ranch’, where one would likely find a current day ‘slim princess’.  .

Soda works at Keeler

Train station at Keeler

NO. 953 LAWS NARROW GAUGE RAILROAD STATION AND YARD - In 1883, the Carson & Colorado Railroad was built between Mound House (near Carson City, Nevada) through Laws to Keeler, California, a distance of 300 miles. Laws Station was named in honor of Mr. R. J. Laws, Assistant Superintendent of the railroad. Between 1883 and about 1915, this railroad provided the only dependable means of transportation in and out of Owens Valley. Train service was stopped on April 30, 1960.
Location: On Silver Canyon Rd (Inyo County Rd), on old town of Laws, 4 mi NE of Bishop
Google maps: 37.400506,-118.346164

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