From the west the railroad traverses, in the main, the continuation of this old overland road. After leaving the fertile valley of the Sacramento and rising into the glorious foot-hills of the Sierras, every roll of the billows of the mountains and canyons wedged in between is redolent of memories of the argonauts and emigrants. Yonder are Yuba, Dutch Flat, the North Fork, the South Fork (of the American River), Colfax, Gold Run, Midas, Blue Canyon, Emigrant Gap, Grass Valley, Michigan Bluff, Grizzly Gulch, Alpha, Omega, Eagle Bird, Red Dog, Chips Flat, Quaker Hill and You Bet. Can you not see these camps, alive with rough-handed, full-bearded, sun-browned, stalwart men, and hear the clang of hammer upon drill, the shock of the blast, the wheeling away and crash of waste rock as it is thrown over the dump pile?
And then, as we look up and forward into the sea of mountain-waves into the heart of which we ride, who but Joaquin Miller can describe the scene?
Here lifts the land of clouds! Fierce mountain
Made white with everlasting snows, look down
Through mists of many canyons, mighty storms
That stretch from Autumn’s purple drench and drown
The yellow hem of Spring. Tall cedars frown
Dark-brow’d, through banner’d clouds that stretch and stream
Above the sea from snowy mountain crown.
The heavens roll, and all things drift or seem
To drift about and drive like some majestic dream.
And it is in the very bosom of this majestic scenery that Lake Tahoe lies enshrined. Its entrancing beauty is such that we do not wonder that these triumphant monarchs of the “upper seas” cluster around it as if in reverent adoration, and that they wear their vestal virgin robes of purest white in token of the purity of their worship.
Thoughts like these flood our hearts and minds as we reach Truckee, the point where we leave the Southern Pacific cars and change to those of the narrow-gauge Lake Tahoe Railway and Transportation Company. After a brief wait, long enough to allow transfer of baggage, we leave, from the same station, for the fifteen miles’ ride to Tahoe Tavern on the very edge of the Lake.
This ride is itself romantic and beautiful. On the day trains observation cars are provided, and the hour is one of delightful, restful and enchanting scenes. The Truckee River is never out of sight and again and again it reminds one in its foaming speed of Joaquin Miller’s expressive phrase:
See where the cool white river runs.
Before 1900 this ride used to be taken by stage, the railway having been built in that year. It is interesting here to note that the rails, the locomotives, the passenger and freight cars were all transported bodily across the Lake from Glenbrook, on the Nevada side. There they were in use for many years mainly for hauling logs and lumber to and from the mills on the summit, whence it was “flumed” to Carson City.