|Mountain Charlie Tunnel – South Portal,|
2008 (Courtesy Brian Liddicoat)
Like the other tunnels along the route, the goals of the Southern Pacific Railroad mixed with the damage of the 1906 San Francisco earthquake to replace this tunnel. Construction began to broad-gauge the tunnel in around 1905, but work was delayed until 1908. Service between the Zayante Creek basin and Glenwood was only briefly interrupted during this time, however, suggesting the old tunnel was successfully broad-gauged prior to 1908. No extant photographs show the pre-1908 tunnel, but it can be assumed that it was a wooden structure built around 1879. The current tunnel was built of concrete portals that went about 30' into the mountain on either side. This was followed by a short length of bricks stretching no more than 15', and then simple tar-soaked timber support beams inside the tunnel itself.
|Mountain Charlie Tunnel – North Portal, 2010 (Photo by Derek Whaley)|
|View from the Mountain Charlie Tunnel's north portal, showing the right-of-way (as a driveway)|
heading toward Glenwood, 2010. (Photo by Derek Whaley)
It's fate was the same as the Summit and Glenwood tunnels: it was dynamited by H.A. Christie's salvage firm in April 1942 by order of the Southern Pacific Railroad. Officially, the tunnel has been abandoned ever since. It's northern portal sits near the entrance to a private property south of Glenwood just before a concrete bridge.
|View from inside Mountain Charlie Tunnel's south portal, showing the overgrown right-of-way|
heading toward Tank Siding to the south, 2008. (Courtesy Brian Liddicoat)
|The siltation debris pile at the top of Mountain Charlie|
Tunnel's south portal, 2008. This was one of the ways to
access the inside of the tunnel. (Courtesy Brian Liddicoat)
Mountain Charlie was made of lighter soil and frequent earth movements reopened the tunnel sometime in the late 1990s or early 2000s. The dark interior of the tunnel was accessible until 2011 by climbing through the south portal and over a sand pile, then down the other side. Numerous explorers have photographed the inside of the rotting tunnel. Pilings and tar-laced timber still hold up the ceiling of the tunnel in places, though other sections have collapsed. Despite rumors that rolling stock and entire steam engines were buried in the tunnels, this tunnel, at least, seemed to have none of that.
|A view deeper inside the tunnel, 2008. Pieces of charred and tarred wood debris litter the ground, though the roof of the tunnel seems strong and there doesn't appear to be any wood supporting the ceiling. (Courtesy Brian Liddicoat)|
- Vaughn Ausbuchon, "Santa Cruz, CA Railroad Tunnels," California Nostalgia: History Summaries