Kevin Standlee (kevin_standlee) wrote,
Kevin Standlee

Trains in Fallon

The last time we were in Fallon, we saw a rail-served facility there that looked interesting. While searching for other information about railroads in Nevada, I stumbled over information about that facility, and today we decided to drive over to Fallon on a quiet holiday weekend when there wouldn't be anyone to complain about us taking pictures.

Fallon Reload

This is what we found: a road-to-rail transfer ("reload") facility used to transfer magnesium carbonate mined in Gabbs at the Premier Mine, the only magnesium mine in the USA. A small car-mover pushes and pulls the covered hoppers through the reloading facility.

Fallon Reload

The trucks drive up and over this artificial hill, where they drop their loads of ore into the covered hoppers in the tunnel.

Fallon Reload

If you're in the USA and have ever used Epsom salts, it was probably mined in Gabbs, hauled by trucks about 130 km to Fallon, then reloaded into covered hoppers here. Note the rubber 'curtain" around the tunnel portals to keep down the dust.

Premier Mine

This is the mine near Gabbs where the ore is mined. We drove by here on our ill-fated attempt to visit the Berlin-Ichthyosaur State Park in July 2020.

Fallon Yard

A small three-track yard is adjacent to the reload site. This is the end of the 15-mile-long Fallon Branch.

Fallon Branch

Looking back to the west, the track into the reloader is to the right, while the Fallon Branch continues west about 15 miles toward Hazen.

Beyond the End of the Line

Lisa took pictures of the cars at the end of the branch in this view facing east. The branch once continued across Maine Street (US 95), serving the I.H.Kent Company ("The Oldest Retailer in Nevada") and other businesses. Views in Google Maps suggest that the tracks also continued a bit farther east and also diverged on a wye track to the south to serve a fuel tank farm. I don't think it served NAS Fallon, although it would have made sense to do so in order to bring in fuel and other supplies.

After photographing the magnesium carbonate reload, we started to make our way out of town, whereupon we stopped again to take more photos. I forgot to take any with my phone, but Lisa took a bunch of them and some video, which we will post later. What was saw was a large high sided rail car with one end hinged open and a person running a Bobcat loader driving into the car and coming back out with a front-loader full of a powdery substance that he dumped into a hopper truck. (I noted that he was wearing a respirator against the dust. Maybe you have to be able to see something to believe that you have to wear a mask to keep from inhaling it.) We couldn't figure out what they were loading; however, it was presumably relatively important given they they were doing it on a holiday weekend Sunday. In this case, the direction of the reloading was from rail to road, as opposed to the magnesia down the line.

From there it was on to Hazen, where we stopped to take photos of some railroad equipment that has been parked there for what seems years.

Track Maintenance Gear

This point is just a short distance from where the Fallon Branch comes off the Mina Subdivision, which itself branches off the Union Pacific main line at Hazen. (The Mina Subdivision once ran to Mina and historically clear down into California to Keeler as the narrow-gauge Carson & Colorado Railroad. Today it runs to the power plant south of Fort Churchill, where it continues under US military ownership to Thorne, near Hawthorne, where it serves the Hawthorne weapons station.)

While the Fallon Branch is full of old somewhat rickety rail (Lisa said one of the rails had a 1902 roll date), there is for some reason a much newer siding laid here off the branch, with additional switches placed in the siding but not connected to anything. It looks like there were or are plans to do a lot more work here, possibly to create a rail-served industrial park. This set of Union Pacific maintenance-of-way (MOW) equipment has been sitting here seemingly for years. It's not at all clear why this equipment lives here.

Hazen Side Track

Lisa also took a picture of a train passing on the UP main line to the north. To the left is a facility that deals with old railroad ties.

I did not take pictures, but this spot in Hazen is also a rail reloading site, and it appears that they transfer the same fuzzy-looking stuff we saw the Bobcat moving earlier in Fallon. I forgot to take pictures of it, but it had a cotton-like texture to it. A little searching online and a suggestion from Lisa revealed that it was cottonseed, which is used in cattle feed. It's being brought in here in bulk carloads and transloaded to be used to mix in with other material to feed the large number of cattle raised in the Fallon area.

This was an interesting day if you are interested in railroads and the products they move and how they move them. I'm glad we had the opportunity to go have a look at it and get some photos.
Tags: fallon, trains, union pacific

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