In 1906, entrepreneur John D. Spreckels ignored naysayers and started construction of what would become known as “The Impossible Railroad” Though it has been in disuse for many years, the Impossible Railroad (SD&AE Railway) has a rich history, due in part to the extreme difficulty of it’s construction.
It took the construction of 17 tunnels, and 20 trestles over impossibly rugged terrain to complete. Workers endured sweltering 110 degree California summers, while working at extreme heights perched 1000 feet over the Carrizo Gorge.
After numerous setbacks, and 13 years of construction, the Impossible Railroad was finally completed when Spreckels himself drove the final “golden” spike on November 15, 1919. With this, Spreckel’s dream was realized by creating the final link in a transcontinental route that would connect San Diego and the Imperial Valley.
The rail line’s storied history has been featured on the tv show “Mysteries of the Abandoned,” as well as an episode of Huell Howser’s “California’s Gold.” Featured in several silent films, it’s also famous for having the tallest curved wooden railroad trestle in the world, the Goat Canyon trestle.
The area is extremely rugged but really interesting to explore. While it’s been well traveled by hikers and mtn bike riders over the years, it’s still very remote so bring an SOS satellite communicator and plenty of water if you ever plan to hike here. As always, take nothing but pictures, leave nothing but footprints. Check out How the Rockefellers got to Jackson Hole?