Looking for Bloomer Cut

I’m not sure where and when I first heard about Bloomer Cut — it may have been at the California State Railroad Museum — but I had been wanting to check it out for quite awhile. I had only a vague idea of its actual location, and I have to admit I didn’t do any real research before setting off in search of the place the other day.

Now, Google Maps can be a valuable resource, and it’s guided me safely to my destination more than a few times. But there are also times when its directions are something less than perfect, and if you follow them blindly you might wind up in trouble. I already knew that, and yet I still tend to trust it too much.

I knew Bloomer Cut was somewhere near Auburn, California, which is just a few miles up Folsom-Auburn Road from my starting point. I’ve gone that way countless times before, but on this occasion Google advised me to turn off Folsom-Auburn onto an unfamiliar side road which wound through the semi-rural neighborhoods of Granite Bay and Loomis, leading me eventually to eastbound I-80. From there I drove until reaching the small town of Newcastle — where I got an interesting but pointless looping detour through a couple of tunnels, onto Main Street, and eventually back to the same overcrossing where I had originally exited the freeway.

Have I said that I trust Google too much? I continued to follow its directions, driving further east on I-80 to the next exit and following Ophir Road for 2 miles until I was instructed to turn, drive under the freeway, and climb a hill via a small winding road marked Private. Here, I stopped to have a think — I didn’t feel comfortable driving onto a private road. I imagined people confronting me and ordering me to turn around; on the other hand, I hated the idea of giving up on my quest. In the end, I drove up the road as slowly and respectfully as possible. That is, until I arrived at a cul-de-sac, staring at two gated driveways. Google urged me on through one of the gates, but I’d finally had enough. I painstakingly turned my car around and headed back down the way I had come.

At long last, I consulted my phone and found some directions that actually made sense. Apparently, if I had stayed on Folsom-Auburn Road and took a single left turn at the correct spot, I would have arrived at my destination long ago.

So, I finally arrived at Bloomer Cut — or at least I thought so. I parked on a quiet suburban street and approached the barren, weed-covered lot. Just beyond the dead-end sign I found a memorial plaque.

The actual cut was nowhere to be seen; but there was a dirt trail that led off to the west, so I followed it.  I was walking through an alley between neighborhood streets and could easily see into many of the back yards on either side, and again I got that uncomfortable feeling that I was intruding. The trail wound through overgrown star thistle for about 300 yards before coming out onto a wide opening — and there, just ahead of and below me, was Bloomers Cut.

Eastbound

I didn’t shoot any pictures looking straight down into the abyss. I was actually amazed that there was no fencing of any kind blocking access to the tracks, nor any No Trespassing signs that I could see.

Westbound

I later realized that if I had continued up that private road I would have come out on the opposite side of the cut; now, whether it would actually be possible, or reasonable, to do that is another question!

On my way back out, I mused over and over about how strangely accessible this dangerous spot is. Most of the recent photos I’ve seen were shot while standing on the tracks — which had led me to incorrectly assume that Bloomer Cut was no longer in service. Of course, I would have known better if I had done my homework before going out there!

Categories: history, local, mobile phone, Photography

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