Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Photo Essay: The Abandoned Rail Trail to the Amargosa River Waterfall

When I arrived to China Ranch and asked about the hiking trails, the woman behind the counter kept trying to tell me how to get to the waterfall, despite me telling her I was looking for the old railroad.

Turns out, the "Crack Trail" leads to both.

Once I got through the overgrowth, past the saloon and up and over the undulating trail, the remnants of the old T&T Railroad became apparent.



At first, this route that once transported borax through Death Valley and the Amargosa Valley, running right through Tecopa, appears in utter shambles...



...the trail leading past railroad ties leading to nowhere, sticking straight out from the hillside.



And soon, it seems the trail received its name from the huge cracks in the earth alongside the historic railroad grade...



...which itself seems to have erupted into great chasms.



But soon enough, the trail takes you up and over on top of the old railroad bed...



...past more rusted debris...





...and embedded railroad ties...



...that no longer lead anywhere.



The railroad once was supposed to extend from Tonopah (a former mining town north of Vegas)...



...all the way to Tidewater in Southern California...



...but as the local mining business dried up, and an even bigger abundance of borax was found in Boron (more on that later), the railroad was never extended to its full route...



...and now only the abandoned right-of-way remains as a reminder of the past.



And in this vast desert, near the Old Spanish Trail, lies a natural area that attracts a variety of birds, bats, and other wildlife...



...with a waterfall that you can't see or hear until you get right in front of it.



Although you can continue another mile or so down-river, rock-hopping across it to the confluence of a creek, I thought the waterfall was a good enough turnaround spot, wind whipping through my cranium, eyes squinting, temperature fluctuating wildly as the sun moved in and out from the clouds.

Related Post:
Photo Essay: Deep Into the Tecopa Basin Through China Ranch, Just Outside Death Valley

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