Lucin Cutoff Railroad Trestle


Train over Lucin Cutoff TrestleThe Lucin Cutoff was a resounding success. It rendered the Promontory Line around the north end of the Great Salt Lake obsolete and proved worthy of its name:

It is a "cut-off" indeed. . . Forty-three miles in distance are lopped off, heartbreaking grades avoided, curves eliminated, hours of time in transit saved, and untold worry and vexation prevented, at the same time that expenses of operation are reduced more than enough to pay interest on the whole cost twice over. (Davis, p. 460)

The cutoff was hailed as both an engineering and a financial victory:

The Lucin Cut-Off is complete, and Mr. Hood, the engineer, is justified for his faith. So, too, is Mr. Harriman, the financier; for in January, 1905, the operating expenses of the new road were sixty-one thousand dollars less than the operating expenses of the old road in January, 1904, although the traffic was greater. (Davis, p. 468)

Midlake Train StationSidingDespite dire predictions by pre-construction skeptics, the trestle portion of the cutoff performed admirably. In fact, the six-day period that the trestle was out of commission following a May 4, 1956, fire was the first time in its life that it had been out of service.

Which is not to say that the trestle was maintenance-free. Southern Pacific beefed up the trestle with several thousand additional piles throughout its service life. By the 1950s, the trestle contained over 38,000 piles. Many of the original Douglas Fir cap and deck timbers and Redwood deck planks had been replaced by this time, also.

TrainThe beginning of the end of the trestle's life as a trestle came in the 1950s, when Southern Pacific decided to replace the trestle with a solid fill causeway. Construction of this causeway, which ran parallel to the trestle, began in 1955. The new causeway handled its first traffic in July, 1959. Southern Pacific continued to maintain the trestle as a back-up for a few years, but the trestle had seen its last significant traffic by the beginning of the 1960s.

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