Morrison (Site)

Running across the Flood PlainMorrison, which shows on some maps and later T&T schedules as Acme, was the site for transfer of Gypsum to the railroad. The Gypsum was mined in the hills just above the China Ranch and that area was the origination of the name "Acme".

Approaching Morrison the Tonopah & Tidewater used a long fill. From the deterioration of the top with sunken areas and sharp pits, it's possible that this was also made by filling in a wooden trestle. At two locations concrete embankments supported short spans to allow the wash to the east to drain through. These are avoided by the trail in the flat at the left, but staying on the roadbed provides a better view.

From Morrison, the Tonopah & Tidewater built a Wye and a 1.3 mile spur linking the mines with the main line. The mines were worked until a cave-in killed the owner's two sons in 1919. After that accident, the mines were closed and are now fenced off. The tracks weren't removed until needed elsewhere on the line.

At one time, an ore bin with loading chutes probably stood on the hillside above Morrison. [left photo] It may have been constructed much like one of these bins, now located on the Old Santa Fe Trail just west of Tecopa at the junction of California 127. [right photo] Route 127 is the highway running from Baker (I-15) to Death Valley Junction and on to Lathrop Wells (U.S. 95). Much of the highway runs parallel to the Tonopah & Tidewater, with some of it on the old roadbed itself.

Remains of the Gypsum BinsSimilar (?) Bins west of Tecopa

From Morrison up to Acme, the T&T grade was very steep. The railroad would most likely set out box cars at Acme on the northbound run. On a later southbound run, the crew would again uncouple the engine from the rest of the train and back up the spur to pickup the loaded cars.

On one occasion in 1915 the train got away from the engineer and upon approaching the upper switch of the Wye, jumped the tracks. The locomotive, tender and two of the box cars landed on their sides. Quite a show for the waiting southbound passengers!

 

From the top of 'Gypsum Hill'

 

Access to the AmargosaFrom the top of the low promontory shown in the first photo above, one of the walking trails can be seen in this panorama, descending the hillside and across to the break in the roadbed.

Following that trail will allow access to the Amargosa River via a deep wash. Note the depth of the river as it has cut its way through the area.

The trail through the wash access is the only safe method of reaching the river for about one-half mile in either direction.

The wash access point is on the other side of the roadbed and off to the right from where the trail descends the hill. Pass by the first (smaller) wash you come to, then go up on the roadbed. It's much easier to climb up the roadbed embankment and down the other side than to try and fight through the debris of the collapsed railroad span when you reach the large washout.

China Ranch Wash with Willow CreekThe photo at right shows the lower portion of Willow Creek just above where it joins the Amargosa River some thirty feet below the roadbed. The T&T had to build a bridge to cross this section at this point.

The bridge was located at the far end of the southern (left) wall. The wash is only about 20 feet across where the railroad placed its bridge, but some 25 or more feet deep!

This view is taken from the southern side of China Ranch Wash and will be reached on the continuation of the walk - after we visit China Ranch and the mines at Acme.

 

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01/25/2005