Central Pacific Railroad Photographic History Museum


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Donner Summit Panorama
(as seen from the roof of Tunnel #7)

August, 2006

The 360º QTVR ("QuickTime Virtual Reality") cubic panorama below was created by photographer and digital artist Bruce Clement Cooper (whose great great grandfather, Lewis M. Clement, was the CPRR engineer in charge of the design, location, and construction at Donner Summit in the 1860's) who digitally composited 25 separate images he took there on August 8, 2006, from the roof of the concrete snowshed that now covers the once "daylighted" Tunnel #7 looking toward the western portal of the 1,659 foot long Tunnel #6 ("Summit Tunnel") and the eastern portal of Tunnel #8.  This portion of the original CPRR Sierra grade was in continuous daily use from June 18, 1868, (when the first CPRR passenger train ran through the Summit Tunnel) until 1993 when the SPRR (which had operated the Oakland-Ogden line until its 1996 merger with the UPRR) abandoned and pulled up the section of Track #1 over the summit between Norden and Eder in favor of running all traffic over Track #2 through the easier to maintain (and keep open in the winter) 10,322 foot long Tunnel #41 ("The Big Hole") through Mt. Judah, located just to the South of this spot, which was built when the summit section of the grade was finally double tracked in 1925. Because of the continuing major expansions of the Port of Oakland to service rapidly growing North American trade with Asia, however, recent reports indicate that the UPRR may well soon be relaying and reopening Track #1 here to accomodate the vastly increased overland rail freight traffic this is producing and thus avoid even more serious delays often caused by the bottleneck of currently running all east and west bound traffic across the summit over a single track. —BCC

[Click on the image below and then drag or use arrow keys to rotate the panorama; use shift and ctrl keys to zoom.]

Bruce C. Cooper  ©2006

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