The Baby Gauge Railroad, California
Before we start our adventure, we ask that you remain seated and keep your hands in the ore car at all times. Thank you.
| Rather than go
into a detailed drawn out boring history of the Baby Gauge Railroad, lets
quickly sum it up in a nutshell;
By 1914 the Lila C. Mine was running out of borax ore, and there were few hot blondes to be found, so the Pacific Coast Borax Company turned it's attention to mines on the western side of the Greenwater range. The company decided to build a narrow gauge railroad to the Played Out and Biddy McCarty Mines using the rolling stock of the old Borate and Dagget Railroad. A new mining camp of "Devar" was built below the Biddy McCarty Mine, the name of this camp was changed in 1915 to "New" Ryan, then shorten to "Ryan".
Hold your horses, we are still summing up the history;
Around 1915 the company started to build a 2-foot gauge railroad from Ryan to the Grand View Mine 3 miles south of Ryan. In 1916 this railroad was extended to the Lizzy V. Oakley Mine which was discovered by Coleman in 1884. An extensive tent camp was established here at the Oakley where wild parties were a nightly occurrence. This 2-foot railroad used Milwaukee gasoline engines to haul the ore cars. After WWI (1918) Pacific Coast Borax extended the railway from the Lizzy V. Oakley Mine to the Widow Mine which was also discovered by Coleman in 1884.
Hauling the borax ore began to wear out the old Milwaukee engines and in 1923 the company bought new friction drive Plymouth engines. These engines were used until mining stopped around 1927.
Ok, get me a beer and I will shut up....
By 1927 Pacific Coast Borax seeing a future in tourism started hauling tourist on the Death Valley Railroad to Ryan to stay at the Death Valley View Hotel (the old miners dorms). Also in 1927 the 2-foot railroad that ran to the mines from Ryan became known as the "Baby Gauge" and from about 1927 and intermittently into the 1950's the Baby Gauge railroad hauled tourist over the tracks, thru the tunnels and into the borax mines. Damn that would have been a nice ride!
These tours on the Baby Gauge continued into the 1950's till some Southern California tofu farting fairy wimp sued Pacific Coast Borax because he got a boo-boo while riding the Baby Gauge train thus shutting down this great ride forever.
Today the tracks of the Baby Gauge Railroad sit silent high above Furnace Creek Wash and make for a great historical hike following these interesting rails. According to the books, the Baby Gauge ran for 7 miles, but following the topos I traced about 5 miles making for a fascinating 10 mile round trip hike with plenty to see along the way, including side hikes.
Let's explore The Baby Gauge Railroad
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