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Southern Pacific Railroad Natron Cutoff, Tunnel 3, Milepost 537.77, Odell Lake, Klamath County, OR
Photo Caption Pages
Milepost 537.77, Odell Lake vicinity, OR
Find maps of Odell Lake, OR
Documentation compiled after 1968.
Survey number HAER OR-92
Part of building/structure is in McCredie Springs vicinity, Lane County, OR.
Significance: The Southern Pacific Railroad Cascade Route, built as the Natron Cutoff between Black Butte, California and Natron, Oregon was one of a series of major rebuildings and realignments of the original Central Pacific Railroad. Begun in 1905 under railroad magnate E.H. Harriman to replace the original Central Pacific route over the Siskiyou Mountains into Oregon, the Natron Cutoff had to overcome both natural and political obstacles. Stalled by government anti-trust lawsuits against Harriman, by World War I and the ensuing federal takeover of the nation's railroads, the Natron Cutoff finally overcame the rugged Cascade Mountains of Oregon to reach completion in 1927, at an ultimate cost of nearly $40 million. For the purpose of the current project, the Natron Cutoff was found likely to be eligible for the National Register of Historic Places at the state level of significance under Criterion A for its significance in engineering, transportation history, and the economic history of central Oregon, and in the development of the West, and under criterion B for its association with E.H. Harriamn. The Natron Cutoff's period of significance is 1905 to 1945, from the beginning of construction in 1905, through the years of its role in the economic development of the central Oregon, to the conclusion of the railroad's achievements in World War II. Built in 1925, Tunnel 3 is a contributive element of this property.
Historic American Engineering Record (Library of Congress)
1. West portal of Tunnel 3, contextual view to north from milepost 537.6, 210mm lens. The single-lens searchlight-type block signals are Southern Pacific Common Standard signals, a type in use since the 1920s. Many of these have been replaced system-wide as a result of various mergers since the 1980s. Located in the Diamond Peak Wilderness of Willamette National Forest, Tunnel 3 passes beneath Pengra Pass.
2. West portal of Tunnel 3, oblique view to north-northwest, 135mm lens. Note the simple concrete portal face and wingwalls, characteristic of the later (1923-27) period of construction on the Natron Cutoff. Note also the extreme surface spalling of the concrete, evidence of the severe freeze-thaw cycle at this elevation.
3. East portal of Tunnel 18, contextual view to southeast, 210mm lens.
4. East portal of Tunnel 18, view to south-southeast, 210mm lens. Compare the condition of the concrete at this portal, located some 350 feet lower than the west portal and on the sheltered north side of the pass, with that of the west portal in photo 1.
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