Thursday, October 24, 2013

Photo Essay: Stoney Point, at the Santa Susana Pass

Sometimes it's ridiculous how much access we Angelenos have to historic sites and gorgeous feats of nature.



Right off Topanga Canyon Boulevard, shortly after exiting the 118 Freeway, right along the Santa Susana Pass (and on the way to Valley Relics), you happen upon a giant bounder outcropping called Stoney Point.



This confluence of boulders forms caves, dens, and alcoves for climbing and exploring...



...but for us trainspotters...



...the park itself also provides a good view of the railroad tracks that pass through a tunnel cut out of the rock, Stoney Point being a milemarker for the Southern Pacific Railroad...



...and originally part of the larger (planned) Transcontinental Railroad, which never ended up connecting the entire country via one railroad as it once intended.



This tunnel, built in 1904 and renovated with concrete reinforcements in 1921, cuts through the rock under the Upper Cretaceous outcroppings (more than 65 million years old), and goes all the way under the Santa Susana Mountains and Pass.



For decades, the narrow tunnel has served such modern trains as the Metrolink commuter and Union Pacific freight lines (their path also visible from the Santa Susana Pass State Historic Park), their shared single track unfortunately resulting in a disastrous train collision in September 2008, just east of Stoney Point along the curved part of the track. (According to the Los Angeles Times, it was the worst passenger rail disaster in modern California history.)



Above the tunnel, on the banks above the tracks, you can still find some relics and debris, artifacts of industrial archaeology, perhaps of disaster.



And then, of course, on the tunnel and the boulders, is the graffiti.



Some unusual rock formations remain unmolested...



...while others bear markings that you might see on rain rocks, mortars used by native tribes (in this case, the Gabrielino-Tongva tribe).



I wonder what lurks below.



Although there are hiking and bridle trails that take you around the rocks...



...most people come here to climb them.




I was happy to merely look up at them...





...navigate my path through them...




...leaving the rugged stuff to those better-equipped than I.



I kept listening for a train.



I never spotted a train...



...the train that put the stagecoach out of business...



...whose path, along with the Santa Susana Pass, marks the division between the Simi Hills and the Santa Susana Mountains, between Los Angeles and Ventura counties, where sandstone rises out of chaparral, and commuter and freight trains share a single track.

Related Post:
Photo Essay: Along the Old Stagecoach Pass