DVRR Baby Gauge

Overview

Just a few years after the construction of the Death Valley Railroad to Devar (New Ryan), work began on a 2 foot Baby Gauge to service the mining areas of Grand View, Lizzy V. Oakey and the Widow. The original route was around the cliffside above the southern stub of the DVRR's Wye and along the hillside to the flat in front of the Grand View. At the Grand View a Wye was built to allow trains to enter the diggings and return to Devar. One of the legs of the Wye was then continued along the slope extending out towards Furnace Creek Wash. This track, after rounding the point, split into a spur headed for the lower workings of the Lizzy V. Oakey and the main line heading for the Widow. A second spur was made to connect with the track extending through the Grand View. From that junction it also continued on to serve the middle level of the Lizzy. V. Oakey.
Climbing slightly all the while, the main line passed above both diggings and around the ridges on to the Widow. Reaching the Widow, the original trackage probably kept close to the northern hillside, crossing the wash with a tight Wye for turning the engine tucked along the southern edge of the wash. A 90* crossing lies partly buried on the southern side of the wash. The track continued on into the lowest level of the Widow Mine.
In later years several re-alignments were made. One was to use the tunnel through the cliffs at the south-east corner of Ryan and join the existing track at about MP 0.5. Others involved erecting a trestle or digging a short tunnel to straighten the line. After the closure of the mines the Baby Gauge transported tourists to and through the mine workings. Above the southern exit of the Grand View tunnel are two stone piers possibly for a trestle to avoid the drainage problem of the fill under the sharp main line curve.
At the Widow, the tailings from the mines were spread to eventually filled the lower part of the wash and a balloon track was constructed to turn the trains around before backing into the southern tunnel. That tunnel trackage now became a spur, breaking off on the northen side of the wash.
At the end of the Twentieth Century most of the tracks are still in place. From a distance it looks as if the workers would be coming along at any moment. Unfortunately the ties have so weathered as to no longer hold the spikes. Fills have eroded or subsided, leaving tracks hanging in the air. A few more cloudbursts and the trestle at the southern exit of the Grand View will be no more. That the abandonment was sudden is indicated by works in progress, where materials now lie in heaps next to the roadbed.
 
From the top of the mesa, one of the small tunnels used to straighten out the line.
Just beyond bottom left, the old ROW separates to follow the contours of the hillside.
Later the tracks went through a tunnel to Ryan.
 
MP 0.5 to 0.6
Most of the central portion of the Baby Gauge from the exit of the Ryan tunnel, over the two trestles, through Grand View and out to the promontory above Furnace Creek Wash. The Sigma Mine is in the mid-right center.
 
MP 0.6 to 1.8
 
Grand View and the larger of the two trestles between Ryan and the mine's entrance. This trestle has been filled in for about two-thirds of its length. Materials for the reinforcing of the remaining span lie on the northern side.
 
MP 1.0 to 1.6
The south-western workings of the Lizzy V. Oakey. The lower two spurs of the Baby Gauge served these sections of the mine. The main line was about 50 feet above and can just be seen heading towards the Widow. Several other entrances are located to the left of this view on the middle level.
 
MP 3.1 to 3.4
 
The Widow Mine area from the top of the mesa. The Baby Gauge arrived at far mid-right.
The Balloon track ran out on the fill at the extreme right of the tailings.
Other mining tracks can be seen exiting from the various portals and running out onto the tailings for dumping.
These are on a higher level than the Baby Gauge
 
MP 3.7

 

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02/02/2002