Opinion: Tahoe’s Brockway Summit … revisited in the year 2081
In the year 2081, July 4th fell on a Friday, exposing a long weekend and providing the Holmgren family a long anticipated chance to visit Lake Tahoe.
The family of four packed their bags Wednesday evening, slipped out of Sacramento at dawn and quickly locked their self-drive van on to the Hwy 80 electric grid system. Scott checked the dashboard before settling on a speed of 70 MPH.
Why rush when their train from Truckee didn’t leave until 10:30 am? He swiveled his seat so that he could face his son and daughter. His wife, Ellen, had her nose in a book. The car engine purred as it headed up the straight wide highway.
Just short of Truckee, Scott logged off of the auto guide system and turned onto the parking lot access road. The sleek, green bullet train sat on a narrow gauge track; the three passenger cars were already full by the time the Holmgrens boarded.
There was no noise and only a light sense of motion as the train moved along the ridge before turning south onto a bridge that crossed the highway and then the Truckee River. A voice on the speaker system began to detail their odyssey.
“If you look quickly to the right you will see Old Town Truckee posturing as a railroad junction and a lumber town just as it had been 150 years ago. To the left is a small airport and beyond, a wildlife preserve, established by Placer County in 2016. Unfortunately, most of the native animals and birds have left to live in areas that have less noise and pollution.
“On the right are a series of contiguous gated communities, all providing access to the Northstar ski resort, which you can see in the distance. The narrow highway running parallel to our train track is as it was 65 years ago, except for the traffic congestion. This train helped alleviate that.
“And finally, let me draw your attention to the magnificent pine forest stretching from the housing developments to the ridge. The county and a developer planned to despoil these 660 acres with yet another gated community called Martis Valley West.
“Our train will pause at the Brockway Ridge station for ten minutes. Allow me to relate an interesting story about this ridge and the area surrounding it. We are standing between pristine woodland and a glorious lake. Inhale the perfect air, close your eyes and give thanks to the people who battled and defeated the county and developer back in 2016.
“Folks from the lake area, Truckee and even elsewhere in the country were horrified at the prospect of further traffic gridlock, pollution and, most of all, the potential for a forest fire. They voiced their objection to this project, attended hearings and wrote letters; all of which caused the county to rethink the project. Can you imagine what this ridge would have looked like if our ancestors hadn’t protested?”
There were groans of astonishment. One said, “I didn’t realize — we owe our gratitude to the courage of the people in 2016.”
The train began its decent. “When you reach Kings Beach,” the narrator continued, “many of you will be able to walk, bus or bike to your destination, otherwise visit the electric car rental company next to the station. Enjoy your visit to the Lake Tahoe National Park and we will see you on your return train trip.”
Steve Pearsall is a Crystal Bay resident and a published author. The above opinion column is satire.