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San Diego & Arizona Railway:

The Impossible Railroad


Reena Deutsch

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Tunnel 3 in Mexico, between Tecate and the border south of Campo, has been daylighted and will be cleared from the tracks soon.

Work on repairing and upgrading the Desert Line through Carrizo Gorge will be scheduled early in 2015.

The November 2014 hikes into Carrizo Gorge to the Goat Canyon Trestle were a great success! More hikes in the Spring are awaiting approval.


[This news is correct based on information available as of the date below. Status is subject to change.]

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The book was released in January 2011. It describes the dramatic ups and downs of construction and operation of the John D. Speckels’ San Diego & Arizona (Eastern) Railway, covering the time period from surveys in the early 1900s to today. The story is told in narrative form linked with more than 200 vintage photographs and other unique images.


Natural and other diasters that persistently afflicted the line are a continual thread throughout the chronicle, and the remote and breathtaking arid desert canyon of Carrizo Gorge is featured. Descriptions of challenges and triumphs faced by the SD&A(E) are highlighted as the story unfolds.


The last chapter in the book brings the SD&A(E) story up to the date of publication. It descriptively and pictorially sorts out the complicated tangle of public and private entities that have been and still are involved with the line in recent and contemporary times.


A portion of author royalties are donated to the Pacific Southwest Railway Association located in La Mesa and Campo, CA.


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To order the book, click here.


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Author: Reena Deutsch, Ph.D.

Table of Contents:

          Chapter 1  Construction

          Chapter 2  Carrizo Gorge

          Chapter 3  Operations Pre-1932

          Chapter 4  1932           [Note that 1932 earned its own chapter!]

          Chapter 5  Operations Post-1932

          Chapter 6  Trolleys, Freight, and Tourists (Yes, the railroad is still in operation and, after 20 years of being blocked, Carrizo Gorge was cleared in 2004! Operations were temporarily stopped in 2008 but are planned to begin again starting in late 2015.)


The book contains images, such as:

·    SD&A hero  John D. Spreckels

·    Construction activity both north and south of the Mexican border

·    1911 Mexican revolutionaries boarding a hijacked SD&A train

·    Tunnels galore

·    Intricate trestles and bridges

·    Fascinating engineering drawings and maps

·    The 1919 gold spike ceremony

·    Inspiring steam and diesel locomotives

·    Other rolling stock and maintenance-of-way vehicles, including velocipedes

·    Passenger and freight trains

·    Depots

·    Awesome views of Carrizo Gorge in the desert and Mexico

·    Construction of the landmark Goat Canyon Trestle in Carrizo Gorge

·    Scenes filmed in the Gorge for movies

·    A wreck or two (or three….)

·    Collapsed tunnels

·    Flood damage to the railroad and its infrastructure (sort of a recurring theme)

·    Fire damage to the railroad and its infrastructure (ditto)


Many photographs in the book have never been published before. Some are absolutely incredible!


The  SD&A: The Impossible Railroad  book is printed on 100% Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certified paper that is made and manufactured entirely in the United States. FSC-recognized products are independently certified that they come from forests that are managed to meet the social, economic and ecological needs of present and future generations.


If you find any errors or have any comments related to the San Diego & Arizona Railway: The Impossible Railroad book, the author would be delighted to hear from you at

                             Info  [[at]]  ImpossibleRailroad  [[dot]]  com


Special to folks who read this far…

          Interesting trivia related directly or indirectly to the Impossible Railroad.




Last updated December 17, 2014