Historic Sites and Points of Interest in Nevada County
The marker is located on the Pacific Crest Trail where it crosses Donner Pass Road.
Great Summit Tunnel of the Sierra Nevada
Beneath this plaque the first transcontinental railroad traversed the mighty Sierra Nevada range. The 1659 foot long summit tunnel took over 15 months of Chinese muscle and sweat to build. The Chinese painstakingly hand drilled, then blasted the granite rock with black powder and newly invented nitroglycerin. A vertical shaft took 85 days to complete and allowed tunnel construction to proceed from the center as well as form the portals. The most difficult obstacle facing the Central Pacific Railroad was overcome when the tunnel was completed in August 1867. The first passenger train passed through the tunnel on June 18, 1868. The last train went through in 1993.
Dedicated August 7, 1999
Chief Truckee Chapter No. 3691
E Clampus Vitus
You can view the western entrance to the tunnel about 1,500 feet from here where Sugar Bowl Road crosses over the decommissioned tracks.
Season 5 of the AMC series, Hell on Wheels, convincingly dramatizes the building of the Great Sierra Tunnel even though the scenes on the Central Pacific Railroad were shot in the Canadian Rockies not in the Sierra Nevada.