The Owens Valley Subdivision (OVS) is a north/south connecting line which runs from Mojave, California to Reno, Nevada. At its south end, the OVS connects with both Santa Fe's and Southern Pacific's Mojave Subdivisions at Mojave, CA on the eastern side of the Tehachapai mountains. At its north end, the OVS connects with Southern Pacific's Overland Route. The Owens Valley Subdivision is named for the valley which it runs in. The Owens Valley stretches from Bishop, Ca, south to Keeler, Ca, where the Owens River ends in a large lake basin.

The Blue line on the map below represents the Owens Valley Subdivison. Click on the map for a larger version.

 

 

In the late 1800's, the Owens Valley was a very fertile farming land, using the water from the Owens River to irrigate crops. But in 1905, Los Angeles was looking for a water source to feed it's growning city. It came to the Owens Valley with the intent of divirting the flow of the Owens River into aquaducts and pipelines for fresh water consumption and sending it south to the city. The residents of the Valley were strongly opposed to this, and they tried many ways to stop L.A. from taking their water, to the point where they were using dynamite to blow up the diverging waterways. In 1911, a deal was put in place to divide up half the water rights between the residents of of the valley and the city of Los Angeles.

At an earlier date, up to the north, another development was happening, but one that was good for the Valley. A narrow gauge railroad, named the Carson and Colorado, was laying it's tracks from Carson City, Nevada, south to the Valley, and in 1883, it's tracks reached the southern end of the Valley at Keeler. Passenger service was now available to the Valley's residents. In 1904, the Tonopah RR completed its tracks to meet the Carson and Colorado at Tonopah Junction, which was located half way between Carson City and Keeler. Passenger and freight service was now extended to the town of Tonopah, Nevada. During this time, the Carson and Colorado also built a line from Laws that went through Bishop and headed northwest, along the Owens River to the town of Mammoth, where a large sawmill was built to harvest the surrounding forest. The line continued north and connected to the Bodie and Benton Railroad which ended in the town of Bodie, which was a rich mining town.
In 1900, the Southern Pacific Railroad bought the Carson and Colorado, and in 1910, the Southern Pacific's standard gauge "Jawbone branch" was completed from Mojave to Owenyo, just north of Keeler. There was a small yard in Owenyo to transfer freight from the narrow gauge to the standard gauge.

In the 1920's, the Carson and Colorado, now owned by the Southern Pacific, built north from the mining town of Bodie, through the town of Bridgeport, and down the Walker River canyon. From there, the tracks turned northeast, over a small ridge, and dropped down into the valley below Lake Tahoe through the towns of Minden and Gardnerville, finally reaching Carson City, and coming full circle. This line heading north was built in standard gauge, due to increased traffic on the rest of the line, which at the same time was being converted from narrow gauge to standard gauge.

It is now 1988, one year in from the merging of the SP and the ATSF. There is enough on line industries to keep the Subdivision flowing with traffic. Things are looking great for the new SPSF Railway.

 

All material on The Owens Valley Subdivision website is Copyright 2007-20xx by Michael Stoner. None of the material (including text and photographs) on this web site may be reproduced in any form without prior written permission.