Interior: Donner Summit Tunnel Graffiti - Truckee, CA

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The Donner Summit Tunnels were decommissioned in 1993, after some 130 years of use. The tracks and water sheds are gone. The temperature in the tunnels remains cool year round, and there are standing puddles of water along the floor. Water seeps in from the top and down along the walls. Dripping water constantly echoes throughout the dark tunnel. As one continues on through to other tunnels, at times the pervasive smell of guano and the incessant sound of bat squeaking can be unsettling. One should bring a dusk mask or respirator device if you're planning to venture here.

Constructing a railroad 88 miles over the rugged Sierra Range between Newcastle and Truckee, California, took 12,000 men 3 years and 2 months (February 1865 to April 1868). The Sierra crest, the most challenging section, required 14 tunnels to maintain a maximum grade of 105 feet to the mile. The longest and most difficult tunnel was tunnel number 6, the Summit Tunnel, under Donner Summit. It was 1659 feet long.

Working conditions near the Summit were extremely hazardous. The Central Pacific Railroad (CPRR) hired Chinese laborers that worked in shifts around the clock from August 1866 until November 30, 1867. When not working the Chinese had to live in tunnels that they'd carved into the snowdrifts during the winter; makeshift shanties on site during the warmer months. Many of them did not survive.

Despite non-stop digging and 300 kegs of black powder a day, the rock was so hard that the laborers could advance only 8 to 12 inches per day. To expedite the work on Tunnel No. 6 (as seen from the mouth of the tunnel in this image), a vertical shaft seventy-five feet deep was sunk so that crews could work four headers, two from the middle out and two towards the shaft. Workers were lowered into the shaft by rope.
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Latitude: 39° 18' 59" N, Longitude: 120° 19' 47" W see »

Localisation: United States

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