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San Diego & Arizona Railway:

The Impossible Railroad


Reena Deutsch

Special Event:

Hike on and along the tracks of the historic San Diego & Arizona Railway through Carrizo Gorge to the Goat Canyon Trestle!

November 1 and 2, 2014

Offered by the Anza-Borrego Desert Natural History Association.

For details, click here.


The book was released in January 2011 and went into its second printing in March 2011 and its third printing in February 2012. It describes the dramatic ups and downs of construction and operation of the San Diego & Arizona (Eastern) Railway, covering the time period from surveys in the early 1900s to today. The story is told in both narrative form and 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 present time. 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.


To read reviews for the book, click here.


To order the book, click here.


Impossible Railroad lectures, slide shows, booksignings, and field trips are currently being scheduled. Click here to view upcoming events.


Click here to see a list of previous events.


If your group or organization is interested in hosting a booksigning, slide show, lecture, or other book-related program, please see Presentations.



Author: Reena Deutsch, Ph.D.

Table of Contents:

          Chapter 1  Construction

          Chapter 2  Carrizo Gorge

          Chapter 3  Operations Pre-1932

          Chapter 4  1932 (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!)


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

·    Cool 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 October 7, 2014