December 2 (1977, 1979, 1980, 1996, 2000, 2005)
Central Pacific Railroad Route—Place Names

12/2/77 ~ incredible sunrise, a pond with golden waves rippling upside down in the heavens. yesterday i hiked over to a spring on the other side of the ridge that i had never visited before. it showed an interesting variety of plants. the slopes there have a northern exposure, and the dogwoods and maples are thick on all sides. giant chain ferns are abundant, and there are some willows, cattails, and other aquatic plants. what is especially curious is the presence of a few small california yew trees. like all the other springs i know of on moody ridge, it issues from the top of the volcanic ash layer, which is exposed at the spring. a small pond was dug at some time past below the spring, and it is ringed with cattails. it has a strong flow of about 2 to 3 gpm.

only a few weeks to the solstice. the sun is very slow to climb in the sky these days. but today it's very bright.”

[Russell Towle's journal]

12/2/79 sunday morning. yesterday i burnt the branches of the most recent cutting of small pines and cedars. trimmed out some more branch nodes […]

the truck is at a standstill. it's all back together but the clutch is difficult to adjust or possibly broken, misaligned, who knows? all week we worked and still no go.

the engine runs. a tappet is loud.”

[Russell Towle's journal]

12/2/80 On and on. Many attempts have been made to achieve thermosiphon. The check valve was removed. Water was forced through by hooking a hose to the drain line of the tank, etc. etc. now an automatic air valve has been installed off the hot line from the Holly. A fire burns. Will it finally thermosiphon? Must I get a 12-volt pump? Double-acting ram? Small [savonius?] rotor? Why not a steam-power pump? So that the pump only pumps when there is a fire & thus hot water to circulate. Clever, eh? All just pie in the sky.

Without the check valve, my cold water faucet manually driven ram pump no longer works, or only minimally so here it however, by operating the hot faucet in the same open/shut manner, cold water may be drawn in through the wrong side of the Holly and warm forced up the drain of the Holly. The cold water enters from the cold supply, though. I guess. Not sure. If warm goes into the tank cold exits via—oh yes, the hot lead. Return to sink-cold could only come from cold supply. Hast to entertain. No. What ever.

My water tank & spring-box were severely damaged a few days ago by boulders careening down the hill from the road. Much work required to fix them.

Well. After the first check on the system, it's no go. Heated up the wrong side again. I bled off a fair amount of air manually, but now I must wait again. [...]

I so hope this thermosiphon will work. Oh. Bubbling noises.”

[Russell Towle's journal]

12/2/96   Later… after dark. Just returned from the meadow, where I checked some burn piles atop the knoll. I am going to have quite a case of poison oak, if my guess is right. But the Knoll is lovely. Much more to burn.”

[Russell Towle's journal]

December 2, 2000

The red cliffs of the Gold Run hydraulic diggings

Date: Fri Dec 02 07:49:28 2005
To: Ron Gould
From: Russell Towle
Subject: [CPRR place names]

Hey Ron,

re old names of places I was reminded of how many are found in Judah's 1861 Report on the CPRR route. One excerpt has a few—"Reservoir Gap" is the Canyon Creek/Bear River pass at Lake Alta—I will give this first. Then, look below for the amazing list of place names along the route.

Also note use of the verb "to canyon" (spelled cañon, the tilde not existing in my plain-ASCII version); when a river valley narrows into a gorge, it "canyons." But of course "canyon" (spelled canon here) is also used as a noun, the usual way.

A barometrical examination of this route indicated that the top of ridge or divide could be reached at Clipper Gap, near the head of Dry Creek, 48 1/2 miles from Sacramento. From this point to Reservoir Gap (about 1 1/2 miles above Dutch Flat, and 25 miles from Clipper Gap), it was found that the line must be carried on the top of ridge.

The line of top or crest of ridge being far from uniform, of course the lowest points or gaps in ridge become commanding points, and it was found necessary to carry the line from gap to gap, passing around the intervening hills, upon their side slopes.

It was also found, upon reaching New England Gap (near the New England Mills, about six miles from Clipper Gap), that to Long Ravine, a distance of eight miles, the ridge was nearly level, the elevation of a grade at Long Ravine being only about 100 feet higher than at New England Gap.

Also that the ridge rose rapidly from Long Ravine, eastward to the next gap (called Secret Ravine Gap).

It was also found that from Reservoir Gap (1 1/2 miles above Dutch Flat) the ridge rose too rapidly for one maximum grade, and that for the next 20 miles, to the bottom or valley of Yuba, the line must be carried on the main slope of Bear and Yuba Rivers. It was thought, however, that the line could be carried up Canon Creek (a tributary of North Fork) with tolerably smooth side slopes), to Dutchman's Gap, about eight miles above, and there cutting through the gaps, brought out on to Bear River side-hill.

Subsequent examination proved this to be impracticable. Canon Creek rising too rapidly for our grades, we were therefore compelled to carry the line immediately on to Bear River side-hill, and were fortunate enough to be able to avail ourselves of the side-hill of Little Bear River for that purpose.

Being on the top of ridge at Reservoir Gap, we were enabled to cross Little Bear River near its head, and to use its side-hill for an approach to Main Bear River.

The barometrical elevations also indicated that the Yuba could be reached about twenty miles above Dutch Flat, at the head of its canons, and the line carried along up its smooth, uniform bottoms for some distance; then, by taking to its south side-hill, Summit Valley and summit reached with maximum grades.

The South Yuba, from this point (twenty miles above Dutch Flat), called Yuba Bottom, extends to the summit, a distance of sixteen miles, most of the way through a valley, in some places 500 to 600 feet wide. The old Truckee emigrant trail follows down through the valley a portion of this distance, generally over a smooth natural road.

Were the fall of this river evenly distributed, it would afford a uniform grade of a little less than 100 feet per mile to the summit. Rising, however, from Yuba Bottom (say half a mile at a grade of fifty feet per mile), the river canons for half a mile at a steeper grade; thence for four miles its grade is about sixty feet per mile; it then canons, rising about 250 feet in a mile, at a point called Slippery Rock Canon.

The river then rises gently for about three miles, and again rapidly for three miles, to Summit valley.

Through Summit Valley (a distance of two and a half miles) its grade is scarcely twenty-five feet per mile, then rises rapidly again to the summit.

Inasmuch as the indications of altitude of the aneroid barometer proved lower than those of the true level, after continuing our line for six miles along the Yuba bottom, we were obliged to retrace our steps and commence again near Yuba Bottom, running up on south side-hill of Yuba, with maximum grade, into Summit Valley, in order to attain a sufficient elevation to reach the summit.

Summit Valley is a beautiful valley, near the source of the Yuba, about two and a half miles long and three-quarters of a mile wide, yielding excellent pasturage for cattle, hundreds of which are driven there each summer.


Pursuing its course down the east side-hill of Deadman's Ravine, it strikes again the main side-hill of Dry Creek following the same to the point where it breaks from its smooth, uniform valley, into rocky canons; thence up Dry Creek about two and a half miles, to the Auburn and Nevada Stage Road.

From the Nevada Stage Road to Clipper Gap (a distance of six miles), the line follows up the valley of Dry Creek, with grades varying from 50 feet to 105 feet per mile. (At one point on the profile, a grade of 116 feet per mile will be observed. This is the grade upon the line, as run; but a slight alteration of line will reduce it to 105 feet.

From point where Dry Creek canons to Clipper Gap, the line passes up and near to Oert's House, Page's, Redwines, passing under the flume of Bear River Ditch, and crossing Wyman's Turnpike and Auburn and Nevada Stage Road at Hawes' Store.

Thence passing over lands and near the dwellings of Wells, Gilbert, Cook, Kingsley, Cogswell, Watson, Buckley, and Neil, it reaches Gasorway's, or Golden Gate Hotel (passing about 25 feet in front of Gasorway's house).

Here the stage road forks, one branch following up a side ravine to the left, over Tunnel Hill, and via Empire Mills to Illinoistown, while our line continues to the right, up Dry Creek, about a mile further, passing about 200 feet in front of Predmore's house.

Here, instead of following Dry Creek further (it rising too rapidly for our grades), we cross a gap to the right, called Clipper Gap, and run up the north side-hill of Clipper Ravine, (a tributary of North Fork of American), to Wild Cat Summit, crossing several short, steep side ravines.

Passing through Wild Cat Summit (about one-quarter of a mile south of Widow Hawes' house), we pass around Hawes' Hill, and curving to the left, cross the main road, and pass up a smooth ravine to the top of the ridge, at a point called Applegate Summit.

A short distance further on, the line passes through Evergreen Gap, crossing the divide again at Baney's Gap, from which point it curves round on side-hill (on North Fork side) to Star House Gap, near the Star House.

Here the line crosses Star House Gap (and the traveled road) about 50 feet high, passing up very nearly on top of divide, to the head of Applegate Ravine, which runs into Bear River, this point being called New England Gap.

From New England Gap the line passes out upon north side-hill of North Fork.

Crossing the traveled or Stage Road, it runs along above the same, and about 500 feet above New England Mills, through peach orchard of Murphy; through Manzanita and Chaparral Gaps, and over Sugar Loaf Summit to Lower Illinoistown Gap, at the point where upper stage road crosses the gap (about one and a quarter miles below Illinoistown.)

Crossing this gap, about 30 feet high, the line continues on about half a mile further, over a broken country, to a point called Bear River Gap, where it turns abruptly to the left, with maximum curve, and crosses the ridge with a tunnel of 500 feet in length, emerging on the south side-hill of Bear River, along which it pursues its course to Storm's Gap and Long Ravine Gap, leaving Illinoistown about one mile to the right.

Here was found the greatest difficulty in location; Long Ravine Gap being an unusually low depression, the ridge beyond rising quite rapidly to attain its average elevation.

Here the line crosses gap, about 70 feet high, and curving to the right, follows the side-hill of Rice's Ravine (leading to North Fork) for about one mile, encountering a succession of short, steep, abrupt side ravines, to Cape Horn, which is a bold, rocky bluff nearly perpendicular, and 1,200 feet high, above the North Fork of American.

Passing round the face of this bluff, about 200 feet below the table above, we strike the side-hill of Robber's Ravine, which runs parallel to Rice's Ravine, and continues up along the side-hill of same for about one and a half miles, crossing Oak Summit, and passing about three-quarters south of Madden's Toll House, through Trail Summit.

From this point the line follows along the face of side-hill above North Fork, striking Secret Ravine, along which it runs for about one mile, when, turning to the left, it passes up a tributary side ravine to its head, the line striking a point about two hundred feet south of stage road, one mile south of Secret-town.

Running thence, along side of road nearly a mile, it crosses the same, and passing between Everhart's house and barn, at Secret-town, it reaches the head of Secret ravine, or Secret-town Gap, crossing it with trestling, about 50 feet in height.

Turning to the left the line now passes north of Cold Spring Mountain (on Bear River side), and for two miles encounters a succession of steep side ravines, where some of the heaviest work on the line will be found. Two tunnels will be necessary on this piece of line, each about 600 feet in length.

Leaving the side-hill again, the line strikes a long and nearly level bench, about two miles in length, extending up nearly to Dutch Flat.

This bench is the well known gravel ridge which extends along the slopes of the Sierras at about this elevation, and on which are situated the mines worked by the hydraulic mining process.

Extending up this ridge to within about one mile of Dutch Flat, the line again takes to side-hill to left, running near to Strong's Cabin, Brickell's Steam Saw Mill, Dutch Flat Steam Saw Mill, to the Dutch Flat Water Company's large reservoir (about one and a half miles above Dutch Flat).

The town of Dutch Flat lies on Bear River side-hill, about half way down to Bear River, the line passing about half a mile in the rear, and about 300 feet higher than the town.

At this last named reservoir, which is upon the top of ridge (called Reservoir Gap), we leave the crest of ridge for the last time, it rising too rapidly to be available for a railroad line at our maximum grades.

Turning to the left, the line now runs at nearly a level grade, about one and a half miles further to Little Bear River, which stream it crosses just above the Saw Mill, near Widow Homer's Ranch.

Pursuing its course down the north side-hill of Little Bear River, it departs at Ellmore Hill, passing round the same, and enters upon the side-hill of Bear River.

The river gorge at this point is about 1,500 feet deep ~ our line being about 500 feet below the top of ridge, and from 1,000 to 1,200 feet above the river. Its side-hill is steep, rocky, and marked by many abrupt indentations and corresponding salient points. The line was carried round most of these points; but upon a final location, it will probably be found advisable to run through the sharp points with short tunnels ~ the longest of which will be 1,350 feet — none of them, however, requiring shafting.

The line passes up this side-hill of Bear River (the grade line being nearly parallel with the crest or top of the ridge, and from 500 to 700 feet below the same), crossing through Zerr's Ranch (about 600 feet north of his buildings), striking the lower end of Bear Valley, about 200 feet high, on its south side-hill. Continuing on for two miles, it leaves the head of Bear Valley, at an elevation of about 350 feet on side-hill above the same, crossing the head of Bear River (which is here but a small creek), following it up to its source, which is in a marshy lake, about one and an half miles above Bear Valley.

It will be observed on the profile, that from Zerr's Ranch to head of Bear River a grade line is indicated, running about 100 feet higher on the side-hill.

In locating the line as run, the intention was to cross Bear River, and continue on the side-hill of the main gorge to Yuba River (near head of South Yuba Water Company's Canal), keeping up on main side-hill of South Yuba to Yuba Bottom; but upon examination, this proved to be impracticable, the Yuba above Bear Valley running in deep rocky canons, with perpendicular rocky walls of granite, too rugged in their character to admit of the location of a line over them.

It therefore became necessary to carry the line on to a bench above and south of the Yuba River, and nearly at the base of main Ridge — a line from Zerr's Ranch to this point being practicable at our maximum grade, the only change necessary being to make the location a little higher on side-hill.

Our present line passes about 100 feet to the left of Jew Davids' Cabin. On the location, as changed, it will pass a short distance in the rear of the same.

Continuing on, the line pursues the general course of Yuba River, about six miles further, to the point where old Truckee emigrant trail leaves Yuba Bottom to ascend on the main ridge to the south (which point is 19 miles above Dutch Flat by trail, and about 22 1/2 miles by our line), called Yuba Bottom.

This point is at the head of the lower canons and falls, between Yuba Bottom and Bear Valley.

BTW of course later they (the CPRR) realized they could break out across Hogback Gap into the main North Fork and keep decent grades up to Emigrant Gap, deferring the crossing into the Bear until that point.

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