Historical train series: Once upon a time, commuting from Truckee to Tahoe | SierraSun.com

Historical train series: Once upon a time, commuting from Truckee to Tahoe

Commuters getting off the "Rattler" at the Tahoe City pier in this undated photo.
Courtesy photo |

TRUCKEE, Calif. — Did you know at one time you could ride a train from Truckee to Lake Tahoe?

At the Truckee Depot, you’d board a passenger car nick-named the “Rattler.” The train would take you up along the Truckee River to a railroad pier at Tahoe City.

Upon arrival, you would step off the train, walk across the pier and board a steamer that sailed all the way around Lake Tahoe.

Upon your return to Tahoe City, you could spend the rest of your week at the first class Tahoe Tavern resort hotel and casino.

This Thursday, Jerry Blackwill will tell the fascinating story of the Lake Tahoe Railway and Transportation Company, and how Duane L. Bliss, William Seth Bliss, Walter D. Bliss, Duane L. Bliss Jr. and Frank Titus built and ran this tourist system — as part two of the Truckee History Alive: Train Series.

According to historical reports, the company incorporated in December 1898, and first opened May 1, 1900. Initially it was a narrow gauge line, running from the Central Pacific Railroad station in downtown Truckee up the Truckee River to the shores of Lake Tahoe in Tahoe City.

It was operated in the tourist season from May 15 to Nov. 15. In 1925, the line was leased to Southern Pacific, and converted to standard gauge on May 1, 1926. This allowed round trips to be offered from Oakland and Reno.

By World War II, the advancement of roads and automobile traffic doomed the short line. It was abandoned November 10, 1943.

Blackwill has researched and given presentations on the Lake Tahoe Railway and Transportation Company for the last few years.

He is Vice President of Strategic Planning for the Truckee Donner Railroad Society and Board President of the Sierra State Parks Foundation.

In his spare time, he is a docent in the Truckee Railroad Museum and drives the kids’ train in Truckee Regional Park.”

His presentation is scheduled for Thursday, Feb. 19, at 7 p.m. at the Truckee Veterans’ Memorial Building at 10214 High St. in Truckee.

The Truckee History Alive: Train Series is sponsored by Truckee Library, Truckee Donner Historical Society, Friends of the Truckee Memorial Veteran’s Building and the Truckee Donner Railroad Society.

Visit truckeedonnerrailroadsociety.com to learn more. Look to a future edition of the Sierra Sun for information on the third and final part of the series.

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