After leaving Death Valley and Lone Pine CA we headed north on US 395 the 60 miles to Bishop CA. From there we took US 6 a few miles east to Laws CA, home of the Laws Railroad Museum and Historic Site.
On the way we passed through Independence CA, county seat of Inyo County and home of the Southern Pacific narrow gauge 4-6-0 18 which is undergoing restoration. I didn’t know the extant of this project. It was a Sunday, and we did nothing more than drive around the block. Look under Carson & Colorado, and you can see that they are very near having a fully operational steam locomotive.
1. Laws Railroad Museum Brochure. Page 1.
2. Laws Railroad Museum Brochure. Page 2.
3. Laws Railroad Museum Brochure. Page 3.
4. Laws Railroad Museum Brochure. Page 4.
As you can see they have a lot of stuff. I concentrated on the railroad equipment, as I knew my legs wouldn’t hold out forever. Sue stayed in the car under a shade tree and read a book.
5. ex-SP depot. Laws CA.
6. ex-SP depot. View 2. Laws CA.
7. Espee 4-6-0 9 was built for the Nevada-California-Oregon Ry. in 1909. SP acquired the N-C-O in 1926 and converted it to standard gauge. No. 9 was sent to the narrow gauge ex-Carson & Colorado line into Owens Valley. Here it stayed until the end of steam operations and the line itself in 1960. SP 9. Laws CA.
8. Southern Pacific’s narrow gauge line extended from Mound House NV, to Keeler CA. In the 1930s SP abandoned it from Mound House to Laws which left only Laws to Keeler. By this time SP had built a standard gauge branch north out of Mohave CA to Lone Pine which connected with the narrow gauge at Owenyo. The isolated narrow gauge business – mostly mineral -- was trans-loaded to the standard gauge at Owenyo until abandonment in 1960. SP 9. View 2. Laws CA.
9. SP 9. View 3. Laws CA. 4-6-0.
10. SP narrow gauge box car 7 with the Carson & Colorado showing through. Repacked 10-15-1957. Laws CA.
11. SP boxcar 132. Laws CA.
12. SP box car 132’s wheels were cast at SP’s Sacramento shop in 1926.
13. SP gon 339 was “repkd OYO 10-5-59.” Owenyo (Owens Valley-Inyo County) is the junction near Lone Pine where the standard gauge from Mohave transferred to the narrow gauge. Laws CA.
14. SP stock car 166. Laws CA.
15. SP “Caboose” 401 started life at Carter Brothers Co. in 1883 as a combine for the San Joaquin & Sierra Ry. It went to the Nevada & California as no. 8. It became SP 401 in 1947. The wheels were cast in 1955 and 1957. The Nevada & California Ry. was a SP subsidiary that the Carson & Colorado and standard gauge Mohave-Owenyo (“jawbone”) Branch fell under. Laws CA.
16. SP 401 photos.
17. SP 401 after conversion to a caboose. Interior view.
18. SP 401 interior. View 2.
19. Magnetic Signal Co. Los Angeles. Plenty of other vintage mining equipment, etc. to see. My ankle was giving out, so I had to curtail my walking. SP wig wag crossing signal. Laws CA.
20. The restoration shop is not part of the original layout. It houses the Death Valley Railroad Brill car, but I didn’t get a chance to see it. You can see the numerous truck-less narrow gauge boxcars spaced about. Upon digging around various websites I was shocked at the number of these boxcars still extant as sheds, hen houses, etc.! They’re all over the Owens Valley! Laws CA.
21. Restoration shop and boxcars. View 2. Laws CA.
22. The water tank is a replica of the original 1893 tank.. The oil tank is original. SP’s narrow gauge roster were oil burners. Laws CA.
23. “Gallows” or “arm-strong” turntable. 1883. Laws CA.
24. 1883 armstrong turntable. View 2. Laws CA.
25. Looking south toward Keeler, Owenyo, etc. Actually in its last years of operation the bumper posts of the old C&C were at the north end of Laws. The narrow gauge was kept in operation at the end only from Owenyo to Laws, 71 desolate miles. SP end of track looking south. Laws CA.
26. SP oil tank. Laws CA.
27. SP oil tank. View 2. Laws CA.
28. SP oil tank and boxcar 17. Laws CA.
29. Colorado Fuel & Iron (CF&I) rail.
30. I’ve seen pictures of a drovers caboose that C&C had. After retirement it may have served as this storage shed. Laws CA.
31. On the left is the SP agent’s 1883 house which served up until the end of operations in the early 1960s. It has been restored, and a nice lady gave me a tour through it. Laws CA.
32. I bought this Vanishing Vistas postcard of 4-6-0 no. 9 (second) north of Owenyo in 1959.
From Laws, Sue and I headed north to Lee Vining CA, in advance of our drive through Yosemite National Park the next day.
If you are interested in the Southern Pacific narrow gauge and the Carson & Colorado you might look at :
Railroads of Nevada and Eastern California volume 1 by David F. Myrick. His books are “must have” on the history of railroads in this region.
The Central Pacific & The Southern Pacific Railroads by Lucius Beebe. Good coverage of the C&C/SP narrow gauge. 121 Richard Steinheimer photos make this book great!
A Century of Southern Pacific Steam Locomotives by Guy L. Dunscomb. Detailed roster of locomotives and some rolling stock.
American Narrow Gauge by Donald Duke and John Krause. Donald Duke covered the SP narrow gauge very well.