Trestle Tours

Trestle Tours are guided, self-driven tours of old railroad lines of the area. See old grade, ties, rail, logging camp sites, and even trestles! At each stop, the significance of the railroad its history is discussed. At some stops, there are short hikes along old railroad grades. Mostly it is an enjoyable few hours in the beautiful Truckee area talking about whatever comes up.

Trestle Tours are free, but donations are greatly appreciated.


Boca and Loyalton Railroad Driving Tour 

October 15, 2022

This tour will start at the Boca townsite, just below the Boca Reservoir dam, and follow the route of the Boca and Loyalton Railroad over 27 miles of paved and dirt roads to the town of Loyalton. Along the way, we’ll discuss the short history of the B&L, its role in developing the early economy of Sierra Valley, and its ultimate demise at the hands of the Western Pacific.

Remains of a B&L trestle near Sardine Valley
Remains of a B&L trestle near Sardine Valley

While parts of the B&L are submerged beneath the waters of the Boca and Stampede reservoirs, portions of the old grade can still be seen along the route. We’ll see where the B&L connected with the Southern Pacific at Boca, view the old grade along the Little Truckee River below Stampede Dam, see how the B&L grade was crossed by Verdi Lumber tracks and reused by Hobart Estates narrow-gauge in Sardine Valley, explore well-preserved grade and a trestle where the B&L climbed out of Sardine Valley to a low pass across the Sierra Divide. From the divide, we’ll follow the grade down Smithneck Creek, stopping at the site of the Lewis Mill and at Loyalton Rotary Park, where the old grade has been converted into a hiking/biking trail. We’ll end the trip in Loyalton, where the B&L tracks remain along Railroad Ave. We’ll also try to arrange for a docent to open the Milton Gotardi Museum, which has further information and artifacts from the B&L and an O-scale model railroad of Loyalton in the early 1900s.

This is a "self-driven" adventure, with a mix of paved roads, gravel/dirt roads, and short off-trail walks in the woods. A 4WD or AWD high-clearance vehicle is recommended, but we won’t drive on anything not navigable by a Subaru. We recommend comfortable, layered clothing and sturdy shoes or boots. This trip usually takes from 4-6 hours, depending on road conditions, questions, photo opportunities, RR discussions, wildflowers, serendipitous finds, etc., and is never the same twice.

Bring sunglasses, hat, water, your camera, snacks, and lunch - food will not be provided. We will distribute a map and will have copies of old photos to examine while we travel. We will meet and begin the tour at 8:30 AM in the parking lot for the Boca Townsite Trail, in Boca.

For more information and to sign up, email Dan Cobb.


Hobart Estates Hiking Tour - October 2022 (date TBD)

While many of the trestles and other logging railroad artifacts are easily accessible from dirt roads, some are deep in the forest and require a little work to access. Some of these locations have been known to TDRRS members for years, but sometimes hikers or skiers will contact us with information about a grade or trestle that even we were unaware of.

Remains of a Hobart Estate trestle, north of Truckee
Remains of a Hobart Estate trestle, north of Truckee

This tour will start at Hobart Mills for an overview of the Sierra Nevada Wood & Lumber / Hobart Estate lumbering operation, but the rest of the day will focus on these more remote locations. The goal will be to maximize hiking and exploring, and minimize bouncing around in vehicles on dirt roads. Since the railroads were limited to grades of 3-4%, the trails are usually not steep, but overgrown brush and breaks in the grade where trestles and bridges once stood can make for rugged footing. Plan on doing 4-5 miles in total, broken up into several shorter hikes.

Bring sunglasses, hat, water, camera, snacks, and lunch - food will not be provided. Sturdy shoes or boots and long pants are recommended. We will distribute a map and will have copies of old photos to examine while we travel. We’ll meet at the Truckee Railroad Museum (caboose) in downtown Truckee at 8:30 AM to begin the tour. Watch this space for further details. For more information and to sign up, email Dan Cobb.


Past Tours

Over the last few years, the Truckee Donner Railroad Society has presented a number of tours in the Truckee area. Some of these are described below.

Hobart Estates, Boca & Loyalton, and Verdi Lumber Company Tour

Group in Forest looking at old trestle

Come celebrate Truckee’s logging history with a tour of the area’s logging railroads.  We’ll travel north on highway 89, swing off the highway and see what’s left of the Hobart Mill’s locomotive shop, long abandoned logging car bodies, old trestles, and the traces of roadbeds of the Hobart Southern, the Hobart Estates (Sierra Nevada Wood and Lumber Company), the Boca and Loyalton Railway (later the Clover Valley lumber Co.), and the Verdi Lumber Co railroads.

Suggested preparation: Secure a current copy of the USFS'S Tahoe National Forest Map or equivalent detailed map of the area between Truckee and Sierraville. Read David W Myrick's Railroads of Nevada and Eastern California - Volume I: "Logging Railroads - Lake Tahoe and Truckee River Basin" (pages 416-453), "BOCA AND LOYALTON RAILROAD" (pages 398-409) "VERDI LUMBER COMPANY" (pages 410-415). This will help prepare you for the test. 😁

This is a "self-driven" adventure, with a mix of paved roads, gravel/dirt roads, hiking trails, and short off-trail walks in the woods. A 4WD or AWD high-clearance vehicle is recommended, but we won’t drive on anything not navigable by a Subaru. We recommend hiking gear; good boots or hiking shoes are a must. This is a backwoods adventure, so come dressed comfortably and prepared for an expedition. We will hike a total of 1-2 miles, broken into smaller segments. This trip usually takes from 4-6 hours, depending on road and trail conditions, questions, photo opportunities, RR discussions, wildflowers, serendipitous finds, etc., and is never the same twice.

We expect to have some maps to share and maybe a book or two about area logging railroads to examine (but not keep) while we travel. Meet at 9:30 AM at the Truckee RR Museum next to the Train Depot in old downtown Truckee. For more information contact our historian.

Sierra Nevada Wood and Lumber Company, Boca & Loyalton, and Verdi Lumber Company Tour

Did you know there had been three logging railroads north of Boca reservoir?  Come with us and see the traces of the Sierra Nevada Wood and Lumber Company, Boca & Loyalton, and the Verdi Lumber Company logging railroads. Nelson Van Gundy will show us the remaining vestiges of these railroads including the old locomotive shops at Hobart Mills, the trestles of the Sierra Nevada Wood and Lumber Company railroad and the ice houses of the Boca and Loyalton railroad.

The first, The Sierra Nevada Wood and Lumber Company (SNW&LC) was a narrow gauge railroad whose tracks were laid principally on the west side of the Little Truckee valley.  The tracks and locomotives were moved to Hobart Mills in 1896 after all the available timber near Incline Village had been harvested.

The J.W. Bowker, a locomotive now on display at Sacramento’s California State Railroad Museum, was one of the The Sierra Nevada Wood and Lumber Company railroad’s locomotives.  It was later used in Cecil B. De Mille’s movie Union Pacific and also the movie version of The Wild, Wild West

The SNW&LC hauled logs down to the Hobart Mills sawmill.  The timber was cut to size, and then the standard gauge Hobart Southern railroad hauled the wood to the Southern Pacific railroad connection near the present railyard in Truckee.  Much of the wood was used to build wooden boxes for agricultural crops.  Some of these boxes became California’s classic orange crates. Many remnants of the railroad trestles still exist and we will stop and inspect them. We will stop and see the foundations of the Hobart Mills locomotive shops.  Not far from these shops, we will also see remains of the flat bed logging cars. As we explore the valley, we’ll come upon evidence of other railroads.

The second, the Verdi Lumber Company railroad came from the east out of Nevada. A Central Pacific executive and opera fan named the town after Giuseppe Verdi - the composer of La Traviata.  The track wound up the Dog Valley old emigrant route and then crosses the other two railroads near the center of Sardine Meadows.  The steep grades up and over the pass from Verdi required the low gears of Shay locomotives. The Verdi Lumber Company operated this railroad from 1900 until the forests were exhausted in 1927.

The last logging railroad was the Boca & Loyalton railroad. It ran from what’s today the base of Boca dam north for 46 miles through the Little Truckee valley past the town of Loyalton.  The railroad was opened in 1901 and by 1908 all the useful timber between Boca and Loyalton had been cut down.  In addition to wood, the railroad transported cattle, dairy products, sheep, hay and grain to the Southern Pacific at Boca. While the town of Boca produced both ice and the famous "Boca Beer," both products were shipped on the transcontinental Southern Pacific railroad and not north on the Boca & Loyalton. In 1916, the Western Pacific bought the Boca & Loyalton at a foreclosure sale and abandoned the line south from Loyalton.

We will end our trip viewing the ice house and railroad foundations of Boca.

We recommend hiking gear: good boots or hiking shoes are a minimum. This is a backwoods adventure, so come dressed comfortably and prepared for an expedition. We will hike a couple of miles (broken into smaller segments), and the trip will cover 40-50 miles of paved highway, USFS system roads, some 4 wheel-drive trails, and old railroad roadbed. Cameras are recommended. This trip usually takes from 4-6 hours, depending on road and trail conditions, questions, photo opportunities, debates, wildflowers, serendipitous finds, etc., and is never the same twice. We will never be more than 30 miles from Truckee.

Carson and Tahoe Lumber and Fluming Company Tour

Starting near Glenbrook Nevada, we will follow the first part of the D. L. Bliss legacy. From Glenbrook we will go up the hill to follow old grade to a switchback on a trestle overlooking Lake Tahoe. Then it is a short drive to Spooner Meadow and Spooner Summit. This is where the lumber came off the railroad and was put in a V-Flume to float down to Carson City. We will then visit Clear Creek Canyon to see where the 17 mile flume trip went. Finally we will end at Carson City near the site of the old lumber yard.

Lake Tahoe Railway and Transportation Company Tour

The second part of the D. L. Bliss legacy was to develop tourism in the Lake Tahoe area. Starting at the Truckee Railroad Museum we will see where the LTR&TCo. started. Then it is up the Truckee River seeing grade along the way. In the middle of the trip, there is a short walk on old grade along the Truckee river. At the end of the line was a 986 foot wharf on Lake Tahoe. There are remnants of pier poles we will see in the lake.

Verdi Lumber Company Tour

Starting in Verdi at the site of the Verdi Lumber mill, the tour progresses to Dog Valley. The northern and southern portions of the Verdi Lumber RR split here. Proceeding north past “Lazy Station” and the Port Arthur camp cut off, we will stop at the site of Camp Pixley. Over the hill, we head towards Purdy Creek camp and Long Valley camp. Finally we will take a hike up the five legged switchback to Lakeview Station.