Donner Summit Railroad Tunnels and Wagon Routes

April 30, 2017

In the 1860s hundreds of Chinese laborers braved freezing temperatures, blizzards and unbelievably hazardous conditions to drill the 1,659-foot-long Summit Tunnel near Donner Pass, enabling the Central Pacific Railroad to move trains over the summit even in the worst of Sierra winter conditions.

Feel the depth of their harrowing accomplishments as you walk through the 145 year old tunnels and along emigrant wagon routes dating back to 1844.

Before heading out go to the Gatekeeper’s Museum in Tahoe City to learn about the history of the Central Pacific Railroad train tunnels and the major wagon routes that preceded them. 

Make sure you take some food, water, a camera, lug sole hiking shoes, a walking stick, and a flashlight. You will be inside dark tunnels.