The Mount Tamalpais Scenic Railway has 260 Curves, Aggregating 25,913 feet, out of a Total Distance of 42,520 feet (8·19 miles), Making it the Crookedest Railway in the World
THE SUMMIT TERMINUS OF “THE CROOKEDEST RAILWAY IN THE WORLD”
The Tavern of Tamalpais, 244 feet below the crest. In climbing the mountain the locomotive pushes the train, and in the descent precedes the cars, in accordance with the general operating practice upon each scenic mountain line.
THE scarred lip of California thrusting itself southward, as if to meet that protruding northward, thus forming the famous Golden Gate, has a striking individuality. Topographically the two peninsulas have nothing in common. That to the south is relatively flat, and forms an ideal foundation for the city of San Francisco, which, in its expansion, has not reached out across the marine highway to embrace the northern shore. As the result the latter is much as Nature left it, which, doubtless, is the true reason for its irresistible attraction.
On the northern arm, ragged mountain and deep winding valley alternate, while in its innermost recess nestles the National Forest -
The mountain has been a popular rendezvous of San Franciscans since the city was brought into being, but its summit was only attainable to the hardy and venturesome because of the arduousness of the climb. Owing to its elevation above the seas of fog which come drifting in from the Pacific, and the clarity of the atmosphere, the mountain-
Construction was commenced on February 5, 1896, and six months later the last rail was truly laid. The road is of standard gauge and 8·19 miles in length. The lower terminus is at Mill Valley, a short distance from Sausalito, lying in a nook at the extreme end of the peninsula on San Francisco Bay. Mill Valley lies 75 feet above the sea, and the upper terminus at the Tavern of Tamalpais is at an altitude of 2,353 feet -
The configuration of the mountainside is somewhat rugged and scarred by deep rifts, which the engineer skilfully avoided to reduce bridging. Owing to the limited space at his disposal, the railway-
By confining the climb to the one face instead of spirally ascending the mountain, the pathfinder reduced the mileage to an appreciable degree, and yet kept the grade within the limits of adhesion-
THE “DOUBLE BOW KNOT”
This outstanding engineering feature of the Mt. Tamalpais and Muir Woods Scenic Railway occurs about half-
The Mount Tamalpais line has been humorously described as “The Crookedest Railway in the World”, and the jest is justified. There are twenty curves of 70 feet radius, totalling 3,641 feet; twenty-
In working out his curves the American railway engineer favours the “degree” -
All the tables prepared for the assistance of the American railway plotter are accordingly based upon the degree unit, but when the engineer who was plotting the Mount Tamalpais railway embarked upon the laying out of his curves, he found both the “degree” unit and published tables useless. Accordingly, he abandoned this practice entirely, in favour of a special tabulation which he prepared. In this he used a chord of 25 feet as the unit, with radii increases in 10-
The longest stretch of straight or “tangent” throughout the 8·19 miles is less than 500 feet in length. About half-
The engineer pressed this slope into service by laying down the line in the form of a double figure “8”. It is colloquially known as the “Double Bow-
The knot is 3,000 feet in length from one end to the other, and the track parallels itself five times, overcoming the total 100-
When first built the road was carried across the rifts on twenty-
The motive power comprises eight-
It is an oil-
The locomotive weighs approximately 36 tons, and is capable of moving a maximum load of 51¼ tons up the mountain. The running speed is a little in excess of 8 miles an hour. For controlling the train, straight and automatic Westinghouse air-
The normal load comprises two open observation cars of the American type, which add to the enhanced pleasure of travel by affording an unobscured view from the train on all sides; the use of liquid fuel greatly facilitates this amenity. In the ascent the locomotive is coupled to the rear of the train; whereas in the descent it heads the train in accordance with the practice generally observed on mountain railways.
At the “Double Bow-
A few years ago the thrill and delight of the mountain trip was increased by the introduction of a novel alternative method of descent -
of 10 to 12 miles an hour, and, although this may seem somewhat high for tobogganing such a sinuous track into the redwood forest, they have proved completely safe.
A THRILL IN RAILWAY TRAVEL -
The cars, mounted on bogie trucks and carrying 25 passengers, are kept under control by a double set of brakes while tobogganing from 10 to 20 miles and hour.
The “coast” is generally regarded as the most exciting and attractive phase of the visit to the mountain-
This scenic railway is one of the most popular attractions on the North Pacific Coast. During the year thousands of travellers journey to the crest of the mountain to enjoy the magnificent vistas unfolded from more than half a mile above the ocean. Owing to the extreme clearness of the atmosphere points of interest forty or more miles distant, including the snowcapped Sierras, are plainly visible. The splendour and glory of the Pacific sunsets attract vast crowds, and a large proportion of these spend the night on the mountain-
Although the Mount Tamalpais railway is essentially for the holiday-
When the alarm was sounded the railway was immediately pressed into service as the only channel offering direct rapid communication with the ravaged area. The supreme danger was that the gigantic redwoods in the National Forest would become engulfed, together with the small outlying towns around the foot of the mountain, and the hamlets and home-
In the hope of arresting the fire, which even threatened the railway, a back-
but owing to the breeze this gap was jumped with ease by the solid wall of flame several miles in length. During this strenuous period the gravity cars were in steady request as they offered the speediest descent of the mountain. Grave risks were run, and the speed limit was freely exceeded, but the reputation of the road, which boasts no serious accident to any traveller during its twenty-
AERO VIEW OF MOUNT TAMALPAIS AND ITS WONDERFUL CROOKED RAILWAY
By this winding road the traveller is lifted to a height of 2,353 feet above the Golden Gate.
[From Railways of the World by Frederick A. Talbot, published 1923]