San Diego and Arizona Railway: The Impossible Railroad
Surveyors called the San Diego and Arizona Railway (SD&A) "The Impossible Railroad" because of its jagged, mountainous, and brutal desert route. The financier and driving force behind building this binational 148-mile rail connection to the east from San Diego, California, was businessman John D. Spreckels. Because of his perseverance, the jinxed 1907-1919 construction overcame a series of disasters, including the Mexican Revolution, a prolonged lawsuit, floods, World War I, labor shortages, a tunnel cave-in, and a lethal pandemic. Once up and running, the line was intermittently in and out of service and later sold and renamed the San Diego and Arizona Eastern Railway. While "The Impossible Railroad" still faces constant challenges and partial closures, freight and trolley service currently operate on its right-of-way, and tourist excursions are offered at its Campo, California, depot.
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Adler Arizona Eastern Arizona Railway Barnes border bridge building built Cabezas California Campo Creek Viaduct carloads Carrizo Gorge cars Centro circa Claus Spreckels construction Coyote crew CZRY damage Desert Line Despite Deutsch Diego & Arizona E. H. Harriman engine excursions feet fire flooding freight Goat Canyon Trestle gold spike Gorge's helper Hipass IBRI image shows Imperial Valley Impossible Railroad inches Jacumba January John Diedrich Spreckels John Spreckels Kahan Kyle landslide lumber Mesa Depot Mexican Mexico miles east million Morena Dam MTDB operations original Tunnel Pacific Southwest Railway passenger service photograph shows photograph taken pictured Plaster City portal profitable PSRMA PSRMA-BK PSRMA-CAV PSRMA-ES railcar Railroad Museum repair restored revenue right-of-way roadbed rock route San Ysidro Scheuerman SD&A SD&AE SD&IV SDHC shown Southern Pacific Southwest Railway Museum SP's Spreckels's station steam locomotive tank Tecate tracks train transported trolley Tunnel 15 west end west of Tunnel wooden workers