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Published on Nov 4, 2011
I kept expecting to see Wile E. Coyote or the Road Runner.
WARNING: If you decide to visit the area, check the surface of the rails: rusty generally = not in use. Shiny = trains have recently traveled on the tracks - so stay away!
When I visited the railroad and shot these videos in September 2011, the rails were once again rusty and it appears that the railway is currently not in use. I've heard rumors that the Carrizo Gorge Railway has filed for bankruptcy.
The San Diego and Arizona Railroad (SD&AE) opened the first modern line between San Diego and the East. The railroad was one of the most expensive ever built in the U.S., costing almost $19 million in 1919. In the Carrizo Gorge, the railroad crosses 14 trestles and goes through 21 tunnels in only 11 miles. From San Diego to El Centro, the railroad rises and falls over 3,700 feet. If ever there was a monument to a builder, the San Diego and Arizona Railroad speaks of the energy, skill and determination of John D. Spreckels and his men, the last of the great railroad builders.
Sometime in the 1980's, the railway fell in the disrepair and disuse for a while.
The Carrizo Gorge Railway (reporting mark CZRY) was created in 2001 to provide freight service along the San Diego and Arizona Eastern Railway line between Tijuana, Baja California, Mexico, and Plaster City, California, United States. The other freight operator on the SD&AE, the San Diego and Imperial Valley Railroad, did not want to invest the $5.5 million necessary to repair the collapsed tunnels and bridges in the Carrizo Gorge. Photo of San Diego and Arizona Eastern Railway trestle in Carrizo Gorge.
The owners of CZRY, however, believed that the investment would be worthwhile and negotiated trackage rights on the line. The agreement required a fee of 6.9% of the gross revenues from any freight on the SD&AE's Desert Line to Plaster City and $200 per car on any car that would have been brought by the SD&IV to the Coast Line.
Sand hauling is the primary business for the CZRY. The sand is used in making ready-mixed concrete for the construction markets in San Diego County. There is also minor traffic of other goods between the U.S. and Mexico. Rail car storage is another revenue source.