Tracing the YVRR Today

UNFORTUNATELY, THERE ISN'T MUCH LEFT OF THE Yosemite Valley Railroad today. However, much of the YV roadbed is still visible and some of it can be driven in a regular passenger car.

There are very few visible remains of the YV in Merced but it is still interesting to trace where it once ran. To follow the route, start at the Southern Pacific Railroad Station on 16th Street at N Street. The YV tracks were directly in front of the station (the side with the railroad tracks); this area is now paved and used for parking. From the SP station, the YV tracks swung northerly next to the curb line of 16th Street and then crossed 16th Street between Q Street and R Street. They then bisected a vacant field at the corner of 16th Street and R Street where a Walgreens Drugs now exists. The YV also had a spur which crossed 16th Street between N Street and O Street to serve two ice houses. The ice houses (Merced Ice and Cold Storage Co. and Fresno Consumer's Ice Company) were in the general area now occupied by the Bank of America.

Trackage along 16th Street
North is to the right in this map. The light lines are SP tracks while the dark lines are YV tracks.

Once on the west side of R Street, the YV tracks crossed Main Street (a dirt road in those days) and came alongside the west side of the YV Merced station and general offices.

Station from intersection
The photo was taken after the YV closed down and shows a SP locomotive approaching the YV station surrounded by trees in the background. This photo looks north on R Street. The train itself has just crossed R Street and is now crossing Main Street west of R Street.

The station was located on the west side of R Street just north of Main Street. The station was directly across from the alley between Main Street and 18th Street. A shopping center now occupies this area.

Merced station from trackside
This view of the YV Merced station was taken from Main Street just west of R Street. R Street was to the right in this photo. - Fred Stoes photo

Continue north on R Street. The railroad yards extended along R Street from Main Street to 22nd Street. When the YV was in operation, neither 18th Street nor 19th Street extended west of R Street. John C. Fremont Carter School is now where the roundhouse and shops were once located.

Track plan for YV yards
This is an extension of the above map. North is again to the right.

From 22nd Street
A view from the YV observation car looking back (south) toward the yards. The train has just passed over 22nd Street. The station is in the distance along the left side of the photo.

From the station, the mainline followed R Street and then crossed the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Railroad (AT&SF) tracks with a 90-degree diamond which allowed the tracks to cross each other. That diamond would have been just west of the current R Street grade crossing. (When the railroad was in operation, R Street only existed as far as 23rd Street.) An interlocking tower, which controlled signals on the YV and AT&SF approaches to the crossing, was located in the northerly quadrant of this crossing. The YV also interchanged with the AT&SF via a track in the easterly quadrant of the crossing.

Bear Creek
This view looks south from a scrap track loaded with rails. The freight cars are right on the bridge over Bear Creek while the interlocking tower is next to the AT&SF tracks beyond the semaphore. (The semaphore is in the STOP position and the scrap train can not pass that signal until the Tower Operator has lowered it to the PROCEED position.) The dark weeds leading east/left from the first flat car are the tracks which allowed the YV to reach the AT&SF station. The YV Merced station can be seen in the background in the center of the photo while the water and oil tanks in the yards are visible on the right side of the track partially obstructed by telephone poles.

Once past the AT&SF tower, the tracks crossed Bear Creek just west of the current R Street highway bridge as shown in the above photo. From Bear Creek, the tracks continued north, bisecting the eucalyptus grove just beyond the Merced Mall shopping center. If you stay on R Street past Santa Fe Drive/West Olive Avenue and continue pass Loughborough Drive, you can see bridge abutments for Black Rascal Creek in the eucalyptus grove a few yards west of the road just before you get to Fahrens Park.

Black Rascal Creek
Looking south from the caboose which is just passing through the grove of eucalyptus trees surrounding Black Rascal Creek. The sign to the right of the train warns southbound engineers that the crossing with the AT&SF is one mile away. Today, the area under this caboose is part of Fahrens Park.

Continue north on R Street and turn left onto West Yosemite Avenue. As you complete your turn, look to your right toward another eucalyptus grove. The YV crossed Fahrens Creek in this grove of trees on a short trestle. Today, the abutments for that bridge are being used for a bike bridge. You can park in the adjacent parking lot and walk out to this bridge.

When you reach Highway 59, the site of the Yosemite Portland Cement Company plant is on your right. A spur from the YV entered the plant from the east, while an AT&SF spur served the plant from the south. Most of that plant is now gone.

Portland Cement
The Portland Cement plant from Highway 59.

From West Yosemite Avenue, turn right on Highway 59 toward Snelling. Continuing north along Highway 59, the YV mainline is running parallel to Highway 59 to the east. If you turn right onto Bellevue Road, you will cross the old right-of-way approximately 3/4 mile east of Highway 59. The old roadbed is being used as a road by ranchers both north and south of Bellevue Road and is very obvious. A housing development has erased a portion of the old roadbed between Bellevue Road and the eucalyptus grove surrounding Fahrens Creek to the south.

Returning to Highway 59, continue north toward Snelling. The obvious railroad roadbed on the west (left) side of the highway is the old Oakdale branch of the Southern Pacific Railroad. Approximately 3-1/4 miles north of Bellevue Road, begin watching for the old YV right-of-way coming in from the east (right) to parallel the highway for the next several miles.

Stay right toward Snelling on Highway 59 at the turnoff to Oakdale. Approximately a 1.2 miles past that intersection is Edendale Creek. The old YV bridge over this creek was still in place until finally being removed in the late 1990s or early 2000s although the abutments are still in place.

Approximately 1.2 miles north of Edendale is Canal Creek. The original highway bridge over this creek is to the west. The new highway bridge is right where the original railroad bridge was located.

Canal Creek
A train headed toward Merced crosses the bridge over Canal Creek in this photo taken from the old highway. The weir in the background controls water flows into Canal Creek.

About a half mile north of Canal Creek is another arm of Canal Creek. A fairly large wood trestle crossed this creek. The piers which supported the bridge are very obvious in the creek on the right side of the highway.

Highway 59 continues to follow the railroad to its crossing of the Merced River near MP (milepost) 13. Until around 2003 or so, the support piers for the pair of steel railroad bridges over the river were visible just northeast of the highway bridge but they are now gone as the result of the Merced River Corridor Restoration Plan. See the Then and Now web page.

Bridge 13A
Looking toward the pair of steel bridges over the Merced River from Highway 59. The recent construction of a new highway bridge here moved the highway 100 feet or so west of the original alignment.

From here, the railroad right-of-way moved away from the highway and the route has been obliterated by farming activities. If you reset your odometer while crossing the highway bridge over the Merced River, watch for a farm road on your right just short of 3 miles from the Merced River bridge near the start of a curve to the left. At that point, the railroad roadbed would have crossed this dirt farm road and then continued north, with the highway running parallel and to the west/left of the railroad. The roadbed would have been just on the other side of the highway fence but farming has eliminated any sign of the roadbed or embankment which once existed here.

As you pass a dirt road on the right to a gravel quarry/rock operation, look northerly along the highway. As the highway turns to the right, notice the white, private gate and overhead sign for the Oxbow Ranch in the distance. While the highway now turns to the east or right through a wide curve, both the highway and the railroad roadbed continued straight in the past.

USGS map
This portion of a 1915 USGS map shows the original highway alignment here until sometime after the railroad was abandoned.

The pavement for the old highway still exists. See the Then and Now web page for a photo of the original highway grade crossing and how it looks today. The railroad roadbed is now the private road beyond this gate. After passing this gate, the old railroad route will eventually turn easterly to cross Montgomery Road and reach the Snelling station further east.

To get to the former location of the Snelling station, turn left from Highway 59 onto Third Street in Snelling and drive to the end of the street one block north of Emma Street. A home and some outbuildings now occupy the site.

Snelling station
A 1910 view of the Snelling station. The dirt road in the photo connects to Second Street.

After visiting the station site, retrace your route and turn left on Highway 59 toward Merced Falls. East of Snelling, the right-of-way continues straight and nearly touches the Merced Falls Road at La Grange Road. Continue on the Merced Falls Road (County Road J16) east toward Merced Falls. Once past Henderson Park (east of Snelling), glimpses of the roadbed can be spotted approximately 400 yards north of the highway.

Continue east on County Road J16 until you reach the site of Merced Falls. The Yosemite Lumber Company/Yosemite Sugar Pine Lumber Company lumber mill, drying yards, and planing mill were here. However, the foundations of the large lumber mill along the river are just about all that is left. Unfortunately, they are now posted "No Trespassing".

The track spur to the log dump would have passed directly through the sharp curve to the left as you enter Merced Falls.

This boy is riding his bike in Merced Falls right at this sharp left curve. He has already crossed the railroad tracks leading to the log dump by the lumber mill which passed right through this curve as shown by the crossbuck. The logging company manager’s home was on the inside of this curve and can be seen in the background of the left photo. The photo on the right shows the front of the manager's home.

The Yosemite Lumber Company offices and the company store were right across the street from the manager's home and would therefore be on your right after driving around this sharp highway curve.

The YV main tracks crossed the Merced Falls Road just before the road reaches the intersection with Hornitos Road. The area west of the Merced Falls Road and northerly of the tracks was filled with the box factory and loading shed while the hill behind them was covered with lumber drying yards. Turn left on Hornitos Road toward Lake McClure. The area north of the Hornitos Road was housing for the workers and their families.

Aerial view
This current day aerial view shows the relationship of the Merced Falls and Hornitos Roads and the location of the railroad grade crossing, station, lumber mill, etc. When the railroad was in operation, Merced Falls road turned directly onto Hornitos Road and did not continue straight to Highway 132.

The station was about 100 yards east of Merced Falls Road.

Merced Falls station
The Merced Falls station was on the south side of the tracks east of Merced Falls Road. The crossbuck protects the private road connecting the station and Hornitos Road. Hornitos Road would be to the left.

Turn left and follow the Hornitos Road toward Lake McClure. As the road gets closer to the Merced River and just before the bridge over the Merced River, watch for a concrete bridge/culvert under the roadway. If there are no cars behind you, slow as you are directly on the bridge and look to the left to see a concrete arch culvert which supported the railroad tracks over this waterway. It was built as part of the railroad relocation work associated with the construction of the Exchequer Dam; see the History web page for more information.

When the railroad was in operation, the Hornitos Road turned and crossed the bridge over the river and did not extend east of the bridge. Continue straight onto Lake McClure Road. Shortly after passing the turn toward the bridge over the Merced River, you will begin driving right where the tracks were 60+ years ago.

Charles Clegg climbed the bank on the north side of the tracks just east of the bridge to Hornitos near a current driveway to a home to capture this great photo of an eastbound mixed train (freight car plus a combination car on the end for any passengers). The road is now where the tracks once were. The lumber mill in Merced Falls is visible in the background on the left edge of the photo.

Continue east on Lake McClure Road. The road leaves the YV route just before the road reaches the McSwain Dam and the entrance station. After passing the pay station, there will be an intersection with a paved road on the right about 0.7 miles beyond the pay station. That paved side road was the YV roadbed. Once past this intersection, you will again be driving on the YV route nearly to the New Exchequer Dam.

This portion of the YV was rebuilt in the mid-1920s to allow for construction of the Exchequer Dam. As the road continues toward Lake McClure on a 1-1/2% grade, watch for the abutments of Bridge 29A about 3 miles from the entrance station. The 260-foot-long plate girder steel bridge was constructed as part of the track relocation work. The road jogs around the gully but the abutments are still in place and very obvious. Continue around the gully and pull over off the shoulder to view the location of this bridge.

Bridge 29A
A photo of the 1944 fan trip train posed on this bridge. The eastbound train has stopped to let some fans off on the far/south end of the bridge and other fans have gotten off on the north end to photograph the train on the bridge.

Back on the road, continue north. When you crest a hill and see the dam itself as the road drops down, watch on your left. The railroad grade continues at the same general elevation while the road heads down to the entrance to the employee housing at the base of the dam. Look along the roadbed and you can see Tunnel 1 in the distance.

This is a view of the first Exchequer Dam from the train. The Merced River is outlined by a line of trees along its banks while the dirt road is the original railroad route along the river. Today, the highway drops down from the railroad route to that road and then climbs back up to the railroad route further upstream.

As you start down the road toward the turnoff to the employee housing, look up a gully halfway down the hill for a view of the footings of a large YV wood trestle.

Wood trestle
Looking up at the remains of the wood trestle after the railroad was gone. The bridge itself is now gone.

After passing the turnoff to the original dam site, the road will climb back up to the railroad route. There is an unnamed, semi-paved road on the left (the first road you will come to as you drive back uphill). If you turn left here and park before the gate (but don't block it), you can walk about a quarter mile west to the east portal of Tunnel 1. The roadbed is obvious and has a wire rope across it to keep out vehicles. You can also walk through the tunnel if you want.

Tunnel 1
A view of the east portal of Tunnel 1 from the rear of a passenger train. - W.C Whittaker photo

Continuing on the paved main road, the road will reconnect with the YV route a short distance before a road comes in from the right. That road on the right was the YV route to Tunnel 2 but a locked gate controls access. This is the end of the visible right-of-way until Bagby further up river.

Tunnels 3 and 4 are further northeast but under the surface of Lake McClure most of the time. When the water levels drop in the fall, it is sometimes possible to walk to them. (When the railroad was in operation, the normal lake level was at elevation 707 feet. The Merced Irrigation District has a website which provides current lake levels; it is the second table on that website. The tracks were about 40 feet above the high lake level so access to the tunnels is cut off when the lake level reaches about elevation 750 feet.)

To reach the tunnels when water levels are low enough, continue east toward McClure Point Recreational Area and drive down the hill to the boat ramp. If the water level is low enough, the roadbed for the railroad will be visible and you can walk to Tunnel 3 which will be to the left and visible from the roadway down to the boat ramp. If you walk through Tunnel 3, you can reach Tunnel 4 close by.

During the last California drought, it was possible to drive to the Barrett Cove Recreation Area and see portions of the right-of-way near the old Barrett station. However, these areas are also typically under water.

After passing the Barrett station, the railroad crossed over Lake McClure on a 1600-foot-long bridge and then followed along the south side of the lake. The tracks then crossed Merced River about 10 miles upstream of the lake.

To continue to follow the YV, backtrack to Merced Falls and either:

1) Just before reaching Merced Falls, turn left onto the bridge over the Merced River to Hornitos. Take the left fork in Hornitos onto Bear Valley Road which will take you to Highway 49. Then turn left onto Highway 49 to Bagby. (Based on Google maps, this option is 22 miles, 40 minutes)

2) Once in Merced Falls, turn right onto Merced Falls Road and follow it to Highway 132. Turn right on Highway 132 toward Coulterville. Once in Coulterville, turn right on Highway 49 to Bagby. (Based on Google maps, this option is 33 miles, 52 minutes.)

Bagby was an early town dating back to 1900 or so. However, the town of Bagby was flooded when the original Exchequer Dam was replaced with a taller, rock-filled dam in the early 1960s. Bagby is now completely gone except for some foundations easily visible from the new Highway 49 bridge over the Merced River when lake water levels are below 800 feet elevation. When the area is out of the water, you can park north of the river (space is available on the west side of Highway 49), cross the highway and hike down to the former town site. (Some historic photos of Bagby are available online here.)

Bagby from the south side of the river in the mid-1930s. The old Highway 49 bridge lined up with the current boat ramp on the south side of the river east of Highway 49. Across the river in this view is the hotel on the left, the general store by the north end of the bridge, and the YV station on the right partially hidden by the highway bridge.

Looking east toward the general store and two-story station. The Highway 49 bridge was to the right. The highway crosses the tracks at the bottom of the photo. The Bagby station (and water tank, out of the photo to the left) were moved to El Portal before this area was flooded. They have now been restored.

The remains of the Bagby railroad bridge located downstream/west from Bagby (see the Then and Now web page) are visible during low water times from the shoulder of Highway 49 just north of the highway bridge. The railroad bridge was removed back in the 1960s and only some of the steel piers remain.

It would seem that you should be able to hike the old railroad roadbed upstream from Bagby to North Fork. However, the roadbed has slipped out just upstream of Bagby and it is not possible to get around this slip-out unless you have a boat to get upstream of the slip-out or you plan your trip when the water level of the lake is low enough. If you can get around the slip-out, you can easily hike all of the way to Briceburg by following the railroad roadbed if water levels on the North Fork of the Merced River are low enough. The actual distance from Bagby to Briceburg is 13.1 miles, based on YV timetables.

To continue our tour, you need to head south on Highway 49 to Mariposa. In Mariposa, turn left onto Highway 140 toward Midpines and Yosemite. Continue past Midpines northerly on Highway 140 and down the Bear Creek grade to the Merced River. Briceburg is at the bottom of this grade.

Looking downstream toward Briceburg from Highway 140 about where the highway crosses Bear Creek. Briceburg consisted of only a few buildings by this time. The Briceburg store which was here earlier was moved to the south side of the river when the All-Year Highway (now Highway 140) was completed in 1926 and was later joined by a gas station, tavern, and restaurant. The suspension bridge is the one that is still there today.

Upon reaching Briceburg, you can cross the Merced River on the suspension bridge from the road which intersects Highway 140 just beyond of the old gas station which is now a BLM museum. Once across the river, turn left and drive the YV roadbed for approximately 6 miles downstream. A nice campground is located at Railroad Flat which was actually the site of the passing siding at Harte on the YV. You can easily hike downstream from Harte on the old roadbed to North Fork. If the North Fork of the Merced River is low, you can continue hiking down river nearly to Bagby (a slip-out will keep you from reaching the site of Bagby itself). Because of rocks and damage to the roadbed, mountain-biking this section of roadbed would be difficult. But, it has been done. The mountain biker wrote up his experiences in three parts, from Briceburg to North Fork, scouting the section west of North Fork, and his swimming with his bike and gear across the Merced River at Bagby.

Back at Briceburg, you can hike upstream for a couple hundred yards to the site of one of the larger wood trestles on this section of railroad although the only thing still existing there are the bridge piers and abutments.

Back on Highway 140 and turning upstream, you will now parallel the YV roadbed the rest of the way to El Portal. It is easy to follow the roadbed on the opposite side of the river. The piers and abutments of a number of bridges are also still in place. About 4.8 miles from Briceburg, the highway, which was headed northeast, will turn slightly to the left and head due north. While the change in direction may be subtle, the vegetation on the hillside across the river will change relatively dramatically from open grassy areas with trees along the river and the roadbed to chaparral which is characterized by dense, low, nearly impenetrable, thickets of shrubs. This hillside is known as Jenkins Hill.

Jenkins Hill
A log train rolls westbound past the Jenkins Hill area. Due to the lack of wildfires here, the chaparral is more dense today than when this photo was taken in July 1940. The caboose has just passed the water tank at Woody just visible on the right. - W.C. Whittaker photo

Just beyond Jenkins Hill is the site of Emory. There are still a number of buildings here which was the location of a large limestone quarry operation. The large white structure was one of two boarding houses for the workers here. (The other boarding house burned in April 2003.) The location of the incline railway at Emory is very visible, climbing the steep hillside above Miller Gulch. The crusher was located at the top of the incline along with the hoisting machinery while the quarry was located east of the crusher. Both locations are visible from the highway. The incline railway here was 2,100 feet long. Loaded hopper cars were lowered down this incline and the crushed limestone stored in a large storage bunker.

A freight train prepares to pick up some hopper cars (called rock cars on the YV) loaded with crushed limestone at Emory in June 1944. The limestone will be delivered to the plant near Merced. The white buildings above the track were boarding houses for the workers here.

A mixed train with a combination car on the rear for any passengers rolls by the storage bunker at Emory in October 1943. The small building on the near side of the train was the freight house. - Ken Kidder photo

The freight house still exists today although it has been moved and is hidden from the highway. More information on this structure is on the web page on Remaining YV Buildings and Equipment.

The Ferguson Slide has closed a portion of Highway 140 east of Emory. To get around the slide, traffic is diverted to the north side of the Merced River and then back again. The detour uses a short stretch of former YV roadbed to bypass this slide. (Vehicles longer than 45' are prohibited from using these bridges.)

Further up the road, you can see the 8700-foot-long logging incline at Incline opposite Cedar Lodge near Indian Flat. Pull over and look north across the river. The major peak is Trumbull Peak and the logging incline hoist house was near the top of this peak. If you look carefully, you can easily make out the remains of the concrete foundation for the hoist house just below the peak as well as the incline track roadbed. Tracks ran from the hoist house around the east side of the small peak and then directly down to Incline on the opposite side of the river.

Looking at a portion of Incline from Highway 140 with a couple of loaded log cars on one of the "Loads Tracks". Empty log cars were kept on the "Empties Tracks" out of the photo to the right. Today, this portion of the roadbed is a paved road and there are homes on the hill above the cut. The bottom of the logging incline was to the right. - Bob Searle photo

Bottom of the incline
A good view of a loaded log car just starting into the curve at the bottom of the incline. Once around this curve, the tracks will connect to the Loads Tracks. The top of the incline is at the very top of the mountain in the background. - W.C. Whittaker photo

Top of incline
The bottom half or so of the 8,700-foot-long incline was single track while the upper portion was double-tracked. This curve near the top was also the steepest section with a grade of 66%.

Continuing east on Highway 140 but before reaching El Portal, turn left across the Foresta Bridge onto Foresta Road. On the north side of the river, you can turn west (left) and follow the current road to Incline. This road was built on the old roadbed.

The Moss Canyon water tank was located just before crossing the first bridge on the road. Look for the footings located on the cut along the north (right) side of the roadbed just before crossing the bridge.

Moss Canyon tank
A brakeman stands next to locomotive 26 while taking water. You can see the supports for the water tank spout behind the engine. The first bridge on this road is just behind the caboose.

You can drive the YV roadbed to Incline, two miles downriver, and then continue about 1-1/2 miles further down river to the site of the Clearinghouse Mine if desired. The public road is closed beyond that point.

While all railroad buildings are gone from Incline, the area is still interesting with some evidence of the past logging operations including a few ties still in the ground near the old fuel reload spur. The logging incline foreman's house still exists to the west of the station site while the station site itself was at one time marked with a sign in the orchard. The orchard may be gone now. The Then and Now web page has a photo comparison at Incline which can help locate the station location.

Incline station
An eastbound train approaches the station at Incline. On the other side of the station is a freight house and the station agent's house. The logging superintendent's house (still there today) is hidden by the train and would be about even with the locomotive. The tracks to the left are all for empty log cars. The train has already passed the bottom of the incline.

Bottom of incline
Looking down the curve at the bottom of the logging incline with the Merced River in the background. Rollers mounted on a study framework keep the wire rope or cable in line as the log car went around the curve. The empty log cars are on the Empties Track and will be rolled into position one by one to be taken up the incline once the wire rope is unhooked and the loaded car rolled onto one of the Loads Tracks. The station is out of the photo to the left. A dirt driveway now exists where these tracks at the bottom of the incline once existed. - W.C Whittaker photo

Returning back to the Foresta Bridge, continue east on Foresta Road rather than recross the bridge to Highway 140. The YV had a wye located in the area now occupied by the Yosemite National Park sanitation and maintenance plant. The road you are now on was the tail of the wye while the mainline followed the base of the ridge and is closed. (See the Then and Now web page for a drawing of how a wye was used to turn trains.) This wye was used to turn passenger trains which were then backed the remaining 2.5 miles to El Portal.

At the end of the wye, the road climbs up onto the old mainline grade which it then follows into El Portal. The curve around this first ridge line is Hogback Bend, the sharpest curve on the railroad (18 degrees). Beyond Hogback Bend are some new housing units built by the Park Service. Those buildings are near what was once National Lead Company, an important shipper on the railroad. Although “glory holes” up the hill would lead one to believe that the National Lead Company mine was above the road here, the mine was actually on the south side of the river and was connected to the plant by an aerial tram.

National Lead
The National Lead Company plant. Today, the plant is gone and Barium Mine Road intersects Foresta Road just to the west of the plant buildings.

As you continue on this road, you are driving on the YV roadbed toward El Portal. As you reach El Portal, you'll see the restored Bagby water tank (although the legs of the water tank have been shortened) on the left and the Bagby station in front of you. There was also a water plug at Bagby and the pipe from that water plug is on display next to the tank. All three of these items were relocated from Bagby before the town was flooded when the New Exchequer Dam was built in the early 1960s.

In recent years, the Yosemite Fund has provided funding for restoration of the Hetch-Hetchy Railroad Shay and YV caboose No. 15 which are on display in El Portal. The have also funded the rebuilding of the turntable in the original turntable pit. The turntable restoration project used metal parts from the Bagby turntable which was also relocated from Bagby with the station and water tank. But it was too dilapidated to restore so the metal parts were used on a new, authentic reproduction of the original El Portal turntable.

The YV mainline passed the current site of the Post Office (when the YV was in service, the Government Warehouse was where the current by the Post Office is now located) and some other buildings. The yards filled the area from the Post Office to the gas station to the east.

El Portal yards
Looking east from the original turntable. The building on the left (still there today) was the office and residence for the manager of the Standard Oil bulk oil facility. The train shed is in the distance. - Guy Dunscomb photo

Government Warehouse
No. 25 at the west end of the El Portal yards. The building in the background is the Government Warehouse, a storage building owned by the railroad. I believe that it was called that since it was originally used to store hay being delivered to the US Cavalry which patrolled Yosemite National Park in the early days. Today, the El Portal post office building is in the same general location. In the background is the Standard Oil facility.

Opposite the community building are three small houses. These were once railroad cottages owned by the YV. They have been extensively remodeled over the years by their owners.

The railroad cottages in the mid-1930s with snow on the ground, most likely the reason for the photo. These were built in 1909 and a fourth (on the left edge of the photo) was built in 1911. A fifth cottage was built later but later burned. The cottage on the left is also now gone.

Park and walk west past the metal fire department building. The road seems to deadend but you can walk to the right to get around a fenced storage shelter. Back in the 1960s, this was a transportation exhibit with examples of trucks and automobiles used in the Park over the years and was open to the public. It has been closed to the public now for decades and has deteriorated into a simple storage area. If you walk around the enclosure to the back corner of the east end, you can see a YV speeder (minus the engine) donated to the NPS by Al Rose and Stanley Snook.

The El Portal depot, which burned in 1949, was located about where this storage shelter is today but extended further to the west since it was about 150 feet long.

A classic view of the El Portal station and train shed with YV coach 302 under cover. - Guy Dunscomb photo

The train shed was behind the area occupied by the gas station today. There is a concrete slab here. This slab was next to the train shed and the curb on the river side of the slab still has some C channels attached to it which supported the posts of the train shed. Buses parked on this slab while waiting for passengers to disembark from their trains, climb on board the buses, and depart for Yosemite Valley.

Concrete slab
This view looking west shows the large train shed with the station beyond. The concrete slab provided a dust-free place for the buses to queue up for the arriving passengers. The gas station today would be to the left.

Earlier view
A bus full of eager tourists in the mid-1920s departs from the train shed for the Valley, 9 miles to the east.