Truckee, California, is a lumber town and a railroad stop. It plans to hold an array of events marking the 150th anniversary of the transcontinental railroad this year, and volunteer Judy DePuy is involved in promoting it. More information and a link to a Facebook page on the commemoration can be found at goldspike.org.
Why is Truckee celebrating this anniversary?
Truckee is celebrating because the town wouldn’t be here nor would we have opened up this area if it wasn’t for the railroad. The railroad was so important, and Truckee was so important to Nevada in that they needed the lumber for the Comstock Lode, you know, for the mines over there. And then they also needed Truckee because they needed the ice—which is another another industry that Truckee had—because as they went deeper and deeper in the mines … it got hotter and hotter, up to 140 degrees. So, the miners would take buckets of ice down with them into the mines. … When the Comstock Lode petered out, [Truckee] changed it so that it was a destination location. So Truckee was important. And the other thing that was important was, there were a lot of options as to how to do the transcontinental railroad [route]. But what happened at the same time was the Civil War. And President Abraham Lincoln realized that he needed to unite the country. So what the Southern senators wanted was a Southern route, but they seceded from the union so the only people voting were the Northern senators and they felt, let’s go North. It was Theodore Judah who surveyed and mapped the route to get through the Sierras, down to Truckee that then went into the Reno area.
How will Truckee celebrate it?
We’re starting on May 10 with a ribbon-cutting. May 10, 1869 was the date that the golden spike was [driven]. The Union Pacific and the Central Pacific met at Promontory, Utah. Then, from May 10 all the way through Labor Day, we’re having a speeches series at either Donner Memorial State Park or the airport or other venues in town. We have walks, where we walk and talk. We also have a passport program that visitors can come in, pick up a passport, and it’s kind of like a scavenger hunt. You go to all these different places, learn the history—from Donner Summit all the way down to Truckee, and you get a stamp, a unique stamp for you to put in your passport. We’re also trying to do a concert on China Wall. … We also have the Old Jail Museum open and the railroad caboose.
What’s China Wall?
Between [railroad] tunnels seven and eight, there’s a 150-foot wall just off of old Highway 40 that the Chinese built, and it’s made with no mortar. It is perfectly pieced together and it is spectacular. … But it has great acoustics because it’s in a bowl, and we’re trying to have a concert up there and get people to come to that. … They’ve actually done a concert there before, but that was like 15 or 20 years ago.
Do you know if other communities along the route are doing what Truckee is doing?
We are going up to Roseville next week, and they’re only having that weekend—May 10. They’re doing something that weekend. We haven’t heard what Carson City [site of the Nevada Railroad Museum] is doing, but … we’re also communicating with them and trying to coordinate. We’ve been in touch with Verdi, their historical society. They aren’t doing anything that we are aware of. They’re just probably going to piggyback with us.