Surprise Valley Railroad – Part II

Map of the proposed Surprise Valley Railroad
Map of the proposed Surprise Valley Railroad

In the fall of 1915, Robert Strahorn brought new life to the project. Strahorn had a reputation for developing these type of projects. One of the biggest changes was the line would start at Flanigan, Nevada, on the eastern edge of the Honey Lake Valley and its terminus at Cedarville, California. By the spring of 1916, it appeared real progress had been made with right-of-ways secured from the Department of Interior and many of the landowners. In addition, it was announced that Lakeview, Oregon would be the new terminus. For those familiar with the country the railroad now had the daunting task to to cross the Warner Mountains at Fandango Pass. First a grandiose three-mile tunnel was proposed, but was reduced to a 4,820-foot tunnel, which still alleviated 700 difference from the top of the summit.

Then came along World War I and that halted numerous projects. When the war concluded the nation experienced a major recession. The economic conditions did not look good for the Surprise Valley Railroad and in 1927 the project formally abandoned.

It should be noted one of the hindrances the Western Pacific experienced with its proposed feeder lines was the lack of capital. After all they originally estimated their main line would cost $50 million, in reality the company spent $81,481,136.40.

Western Pacific was caught in the dilemma that the branch lines would bring in much needed revenue, but it was not in a financial condition to build them.

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