wooden tunnels along I-80 in the sierras
February 28, 2005 2:06 PM   Subscribe

What are the wooden tunnels you see on the mountains along I-80 (on the right hand side) as you go from Truckee to Reno ? They are too small to enclose railway lines, and are not continuous. They also appear to be a little run-down, and are probably not used these days.

actaully they exist along I-80 almost throughout the higher elevations Sierras, because I also remember seeing them near the Sugar Bowl exit (Soda Springs)
posted by zergot to Travel & Transportation (8 answers total)
There's an old flume for carrying snow melt from the mountains down to the valley aqueducts. There are a lot of them in the Sierra.

The flume that runs between Truckee/Reno -- if you're not seeing it and are only seeing the tunnel, it could be that some of it collapsed in the weather. Last time I was there (2 years ago), it was standing.
posted by mudpuppie at 2:28 PM on February 28, 2005

When I was in South Dakota the tour guide pointed out similar structures and said they were abandoned gold mines.
posted by cillit bang at 2:30 PM on February 28, 2005

What makes you think they're too small for railway lines?

Perhaps we're thinking of different tunnels... Is this the sort of thing you're talking about?

(this has a bit on the snowsheds built)
posted by AmaAyeRrsOonN at 2:33 PM on February 28, 2005

Okay, wait.

I heard the "carrying water to the aqueduct" version from the docent who rode Amtrak between Reno/Sacramento. He was from Sacto's train museum.

Other sources indicate that the flumes carried water for sluice mining. Here's a good one.
posted by mudpuppie at 2:34 PM on February 28, 2005

There are some of these along 1-70 in Colorado as well. From what I've been told, they were used for getting water to the mines.
posted by thewittyname at 2:35 PM on February 28, 2005

When the Central Pacific Railroad was built in the 1860s, about 40 miles of wooden snow sheds were used on the line where it went through the Sierra Mountains - otherwise, the line would have been closed much of the year (not to mention the expense of snow-clearing).

Much of the line over the Sierras was rebuilt (and moved) between 1909 and 1912. This and latter changes resulted in the majority of the snow sheds no longer being in use (and these parts of the line abandoned). [And where protection against the snow was still needed, I think the wood sheds have been replaced with concrete.]

[Which isn't to say that the wooden tunnels under discussion are definitely snow sheds, but they might be ... ]
posted by WestCoaster at 4:09 PM on February 28, 2005

Response by poster: There are some places where this "tunnel" runs right by the highway. Thats where you can see that they are kinda small for a railway tunnel. AmaAyeRrsOonN's picture is the one i am talking about.
posted by zergot at 8:17 PM on February 28, 2005

And AmaAyeRrsOonN's picture has a caption saying that it is a Union Pacific snowshed. ;) Seriously that doesn't look too small for a single-track railway to fit underneath.
posted by grouse at 12:53 AM on March 1, 2005

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