Monday, December 8, 2008

Sand Pass Siding

It was a beautiful, sunny day, and we couldn’t pass up a perfect opportunity to take a drive into Nevada’s back roads for a little ghost town exploring. We wanted to look at a couple of sidings on the northwest end of Pyramid Lake.

A siding, in railroad terminology, is a “side track”; a section of track distinct from a through route, or main line. It may connect to the main track or to other sidings at either end.

Sidings sometimes store equipment for loading and unloading freight cars. Industrial sidings divert alongside factories, mines, quarries, and warehouses. Sometimes sidings are found at public railroad stations. Another type of siding is the passing siding. This is a section of track parallel to a through line and connected to it at both ends by switches. Passing sidings allow trains travelling in opposite directions to pass, and for fast, high priority trains to pass slower or lower priority trains going the same direction.

In earlier times, in order to divert the slower train onto the siding track, switches had to be maually operated. Very often, these sidings provided temporary housing for rail maintence workers.

Some sidings were built to service industries which have closed. It's not uncommon for an infrequently used siding to fall into disrepair on its way to being torn up or covered over.

From Reno, we took Pyramid Highway, State Route 445 to Pyramid Lake. At the junction, we turned left and continued on Route 445 until we ran out of pavement. This well maintained dirt road becomes Indian Land Route 2.
We drove about 30 miles along Route 2 until we came to Sand Pass Siding, which has two structures standing. Both structures were in disrepair and looked pretty unsafe. There are warning signs painted on the exterior walls to keep out. Sand Pass Siding lies within the borders of the Pyramid Lake Indian Reservation. We took a few pictures of the structures, checked out a couple of closed mine shafts in the area, got into our rig, and took Route 7 headed northeast toward Bryant.

Bryant, as far as I can gather, appears to be an abandoned ranch. I haven’t been able to find anything in the records about it. It is located about 5 miles from Sand Pass Siding on Route 7, a well maintained dirt road. When we got there, we discovered a couple of people camped out there. We didn’t want to disturb them, particularly since we weren’t sure if we would be trespassing. It looks like an interesting little settlement though. Several old dilapidated buildings, a few corrals, and a pond.

We decided to head back to Route 2 toward Pyramid Lake. We spotted a sign headed west that would take us to Flanigan, another old rail settlement. We turned onto Fish Springs Road for about 10 miles, then onto Flanigan road for about 5 miles. We followed the signs to “Flanigan town site”, but when we got there, it had been razed. Just several huge piles of timber remained. There are realty signs all over the place. Too bad, another piece of history lost to developers.

We thought of going on over through Gerlach, then up to Leadville, but we really didn’t have time. I had to get back and pickup Mariah from school. So, we headed south again, into Sutcliffe and stopped off at Crosby’s for a cheeseburger.

All in all, it was a great day. We saw some wild horses; wandered around the back roads of Nevada, spotted a couple of coyotes, a herd of antelope, and enjoyed a perfect fall day. Life can’t get any better.

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