Exploring Abandoned Railroad Tunnels
In August we took a trip above Donner Lake, CA to explore the abandoned Transcontinental Railroad tunnels. The Central Pacific Railroad Company of California built the line from Sacramento, CA to Promontory Summit, UT, which was completed in 1869.
This section of the line was operational until it was decommissioned in 1993. The track was no longer present; however, the railroad ties could be seen on the hillsides below the tunnels. There are miles of tunnels to explore. We spent the better part of the day and only explored the tunnels east of the China Wall.
This hike was a special one for us. Dan’s father took he and his sister on the train down to Sacramento when he was a boy through the very tunnels that we explored. My grandfather worked for the Southern Pacific Railroad. My grandmother, aunt, and mother took the train countless times between Reno and Sacramento. The entire time we were walking through the tunnels I kept thinking if the walls could talk the stories they could tell.
Walking through the dark tunnels with only our flashlights to guide us was incredible. At points you could hear the dripping of water that was seeping through the tunnel walls.
The snow sheds had a different feel to them. Some of the shed doors were no longer attached which afforded us access to the wonderful views of Donner Lake and the valley below.
There is graffiti on most of the tunnel walls. Some of it was the usual kind that you see around but every once in awhile we came across a beautiful piece that you would expect to see in an art gallery.
This hike was an amazing experience that neither one of us will soon forget.
Here are the coordinates: