The track gang cut the old switch out in sections and used the excavators to drag the sections away from the main, where they piled them out of the way for later disassembly.
There was much dust raised as they stacked the rail sections atop the concrete block that we think is the footing of the old steam-era water tower from the days when Fernley was the point where Southern Pacific locomotives out of Sparks would take trains up the Modoc line to Oregon via Pyramid Lake and Alturas.
Lisa was shooting a lot of video with the professional Panasonic P2 camera. At some phone she hopes to edit it together into a full record of the cut-out/cut-in process.
Once the old switch was pulled out of the way, the small bulldozer moved in to push out the old ballast and push in and level the new ballast. One of the track gang who came over to where Lisa and I were on the opposite side of the road (surely Lisa's camera is eye-catching) told us that the bulldozer has a laser-guidance feature to make sure the newly laid roadbed is nice and level.
Meanwhile, the contractor that is salvaging the old rails pulled up over the past few days and currently sitting loose beside the tracks came by with this rig. One person cuts the rails into shorter lengths for later collection by a crane into a gondola, while another stands by with a water hose to put out fires set by the cutting torch.
While I took these photos, I noticed that one of the bunnies was sitting not far away. The poor thing must have no idea what to make of its home being torn up by the earth movers. At one point the rabbit tried to run across the road, but then then changed its mind and ran off in another direction.
With the old switch out of the way and the ballast prepared, it was time for the four big excavators to move in and, after attaching chains to the old switch, very slowly lift the switch, then move sideways (note that the treads are parallel to the track) in unison,...
...then lower the switch into position. It obviously has to be done very carefully, and you have to admire the work of the equipment operators, running four large heavy pieces of equipment together without damaging the switch.
After the switch was laid in place, the track was cut down to fit more precisely and then connected.
At one point they needed a piece of the old switch stand, so a couple of the crew went over and took the pieces off the stack of track.
After this last photo above, the light was too low to get many other good photos, so we turned in for the night. We could see (and hear!) how the excavators were used to rip apart the old switch and then stack up the rails and ties for disposal.
The next morning, the equipment was neatly parked in a line, while stacks of former switch awaited the salvage crews.
When I went over to examine the now-tranquil scene, a rabbit showed up. They seem to be managing to survive among the chaos.
There's the point where the new switch connects into the Fernley House Track (foreground) and the Nevada Subdivision Main Line.
The new switch (including, it appears, a fair bit of the hardware from the old switch) stands in its newly-assembled place.
Amtrak came by (at reduced speed until the newly-laid track "beds in"), passing the conga line of earth movers...
...and over the new switch.
There's still clean-up to do before the Switch Gang's work is done, but the Big Lift is complete.