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Western Railroad Discussion > Steepest Grade On Donner Summit Line

Date: 03/14/19 17:53
Steepest Grade On Donner Summit Line
Author: railroadbill

Does anybody know at which milepost the steepest grade occurs between Sacramento and Reno, on either track?
(Not on the old, abandoned trackage)
I'm trying to get the right location for the narration script that we use on the Zephyr.

Date: 03/14/19 17:58
Re: Steepest Grade On Donner Summit Line
Author: espee99

IIRC the steepest grade is just east of Colfax, from the I-80 bridge.

Date: 03/14/19 18:10
Re: Steepest On Donner
Author: timz

Actually, that's a pretty easy question to answer;
just east of Tunnel 18 on the former westward
track is 1000 feet of 2.79%, where they had to
realign it when they built the tunnel.

The steepest sustained grade is about eight miles long,
east from Dutch Flat -- averages 2.35% compensated
or close to it.

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 03/14/19 18:12 by timz.

Date: 03/14/19 18:41
Re: Steepest On Donner
Author: BoilingMan

I would agree on Dutch Flat (right in front of my house, actually) but this is not really the most difficult because it's relatively straight track.  Grade+Curves is the real bugger!  I've heard this is between Magra and Gold Run (The "Rattle Snake Curves")  but I'm not entirely sure.

Date: 03/14/19 18:48
Re: Steepest On Donner
Author: timz

Magra to the west end of Gold Run
averages less than 2% actual.

That reminds me -- that stretch does have
the sharpest curve on Donner, an 11-degree.
We can look it up to see which one it is
if you're want that info too.

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 03/15/19 17:22 by timz.

Date: 03/14/19 18:51
Re: Steepest On Donner
Author: WAF

I heard above Blue Canon to below Fulda

Date: 03/14/19 19:00
Re: Steepest On Donner
Author: timz

Actual grade above Blue Canyon averages
2.1% or maybe a bit less, and the curvature
is no greater there, so it's slightly easier than
MP 155-163.

Top of the 2% is right around the east end of
the balloon track.

Date: 03/14/19 20:58
Re: Steepest On Donner
Author: 1ST_OUT

Timz is correct mp 121 on the #1 track. Farther up Towle to Dutch Flat, Cape Horn to Long Ravine. Going west the steeper parts of the grade start at Fulda, then flattens out at mp167 tips off again at mp165 stays fairly consistant until Gorge tips off agian at Towle. The railroad flattens out at Gold Run short down hill run to Secret Town, tips off agian at 146.5. The thing about donner is that anytime the track deviates from the origninal alignment it gets steeper because distance an curves have been eliminated.

Date: 03/14/19 23:11
Re: Steepest On Donner
Author: donner_dude1

According to an old SP timetable (1982)

2.4% between MP 120-121
2.3% between MP 156-157
2.3% between MP 163-164


Date: 03/15/19 17:31
Re: Steepest On Donner
Author: 1ST_OUT

I put in MP121 to 122 for the steepest segment. I would have to did out a timetable to give you an exact mp for the #1 track at Newcastle. I run this route on a regular basis and my knowlege of the territory is from my experience in bringing trains down the hill. I once used a GPS when it was legal in the cab to check the grade and I came up with 2.8 percent. It is one of the most challenging spots to stop a heavy train since the flange lubricator is right at the bottom just outside of tunnel 18. Old timetable mp from the SP are off 4500 ft now that UP changed the mp on the west side of the big hole.

Date: 03/16/19 08:09
Re: Steepest On Donner
Author: WAF

Yu can feel the downward grade at 120 on Amtrak

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