Proposed Alignment of the Transcontinental Railroad - Section 3

Section 3 of 4 of the Central Pacific Railroad: Proposed Alignment (1861), also known as the "Judah Map"

Central Pacific Railroad: Proposed Alignment - Section 3 (1861) by Secretary of State Records, Filed Documents Maps and Plans Filed with the Secretary of State (MC1:11-2 [169]), California State ArchivesCalifornia State Archives

This section of the map starts at the Summit of the Sierra Nevada and ends along the Truckee River in Nevada County.

The railroad crossed the summit of the Sierra Nevada mountains at what we now call Donner Pass. A 1,660 tunnel was built through solid granite at the summit, taking over a year to complete.

Strong's Ravine
Strong's Ravine does not appear on later maps, but is likely located in present-day Lakeview Canyon.

Donner Lake
This freshwater lake, located 11 miles northwest of Lake Tahoe, is a popular spot for camping, fishing, boating, and hiking in the summer, and cross-country skiing and snowshoeing in the winter.

Strong & Judah
While Theodore Judah was contemplating a railroad route over the mountains in 1859, he received a letter from Dr. Daniel Strong, a storekeeper from Dutch Flat. Dr. Strong offered to show Judah what he believed to be the best route over the summit. The two met up and journeyed over Donner Pass, which would become the route used by the railroad. This point on the map is possibly one of their meeting locations.

Central Pacific Railroad Camp
As the Central Pacific Railroad workers built out the Transcontinental Railroad, they lived in makeshift camps of tents or cabins set up along the line. Camp conditions were often dangerous and unhygienic, leading to frequent disease outbreaks.

Donner Cabins
The Donner Party set out for California in a wagon train in 1846. They became trapped in heavy snow while crossing the Sierra Nevada mountains, and were forced to set up camp in this location. Many did not survive the difficult winter.

Cold Stream Creek
This creek descends from Mt. Lola and runs alongside an open meadow known for its beautiful wildflowers and butterflies.

Truckee River
The Truckee River, the only outlet of Lake Tahoe, flows northeast through the town of Truckee and into Nevada, eventually ending in Pyramid Lake. The river was named after a Paiute chief who guided emigrants from the Humboldt River west to California along the Truckee River in 1844.

Eastern Terminus of Survey
The route covered by Theodore Judah's map ends along the Truckee River in Nevada County. After this point, the route would descend into the flatter lands of what is now the state of Nevada.

View section 4 of the map, covering Dutch Flat to Rattlesnake Bluffs.

NOTE: The full map is made up of four sections. They are presented here in the order in which they appear on the original hand-drawn map, not in geographic order. Section 4 of the map covers a geographic area that actually falls between sections 1 and 2.

Credits: Story

All images from records of the California State Archives
Digital exhibit by Beth Behnam and Michelle Howard (2019)

Imaging by Stanford University (2019)

California State Archives
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Sacramento, CA 95814
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