The other day I just happened to catch a few minutes of the Science Channel’s show Impossible Engineering: Extreme Railroads and saw the Goat Canyon Trestle — I instantly remembered that I’d seen it before, in this episode of California’s Gold which first aired in 1999. The trestle, located within Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, is fairly hard to get to but popular with hikers. There’s no need to worry about train traffic — the tracks have been inoperative off and on for decades, mostly due to tunnel collapses along the route, and the original railroad company has been out of business for over 40 years. But the wooden trestle still survives despite serious weather and dangerous rockslides, in part due to the use of redwood timber and steel bolts, rather than nails, in its initial construction (a bit of info I learned from the piece on the Science Channel episode).
The San Diego & Arizona Railway has been called “the impossible railroad”. They broke ground in 1907 and completed the line in 1919. Between San Diego and Arizona is some of the most treacherous countryside in the US With a bevy of workman and a lot of dynamite they managed to snake their way to Arizona. The railroad had many tunnels collapse over the years, especially in the Carrizo Gorge. The railroad decided to build the Goat Canyon Trestle in 1932 after a series of tunnel closures. The Goat Canyon Trestle is one of the most impressive feats of engineering in the world.