Tehachapi Loop. California. USA

Tehachapi Loop

BNSF train on Tehachapi Loop in 2011, with mixed Tra on-flatcar and two-row container manifest eastbound Santa Fe train passes over itself on a loop in April 1987.

The Tehachapi Loop is a 3,779-foot-long spiral, or spiral, on the Union Pacific Railroad Mojave Subdivision railroad through Tehachapi Pass in the Tehachapi Mountains of Kern County, south central California. The line connects Bakersfield and the San Joaquin Valley with the Mojave to Mojave Desert.

Rising at two percent, the track rises 77 feet, forming a 1,210-foot diameter circle in a loop. Any train, at least as long as the loop passes over itself, bypasses the loop. At the bottom of the loop, the track passes through Tunnel 9, the ninth tunnel built as the Bakersfield Railroad works.

The line has about 36 tons of trains each day; passenger traffic, such as the Amtrak San Joaquin , is generally prohibited. Because of its frequent trains and scenic setting, the Tehachapi Loop is popular with railroaders. In 1998, it was named a National Historic Building Landmark and designated as California Historic Landmark No. 508.


One of the engineering feats of its day, the Loop was built by the Southern Pacific Railroad to facilitate grade over Tehachapi Pass. Construction began in 1874, and the line opened in 1876. Among those involved in the construction of the project were Arthur De Wint Foote and the chief engineer of the project, William Hood.

The Sid on the Loop is known as Walong after Southern Pacific District Roadmaster J.A. Long.

The project was built under the direction of Southern Pacific civil engineers James R. Strawbridge and William Hood using mostly Chinese labor. The Tehachapi Line required 18 tunnels, 10 bridges, and numerous water towers to rebuild steam locomotives. Between 1875-76 about 3,000 Chinese laborers, equipped with little more than hand tools, picks, shoes, goose carts and powder cut through hard and decomposed granite to create a 0.73 spiral loop with a gradient of about 2 percent and a height increase of 77 feet. In 1882 the line was extended through Southern California and Mojave Desert with 8,000 Chinese men working under Strobride and another man. Both men retired after working for the Central Pacific Railroad.

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A large white cross, “The Cross at the Loop,” stands on a hill in the center of the loop in memory of two Southern Pacific Railroad employees killed when a train derailed in San Bernardino, California, on May 12, 1989.

The Tehachapi Depot Museum is located in the nearby town of Tehachapi.


The Loop became the property of the Union Pacific in 1996 when the Union Pacific and Southern Pacific systems merged. BNSF Railway trains also use the Loop under traffic rights.

Although Southern Pacific ran passenger trains on Lupa for years, it banned passenger service there shortly after it transferred its trains to Amtrak in 1971. The Union Pacific has maintained the ban since taking over the Southern Pacific. As a result, Amtrak’s San Joaquin train is unable to directly serve Los Angeles. Amtrak operates Thruway Motorcoach buses for passengers traveling between the Central Valley and Los Angeles.

An exception is made for the Coast Starlight, which uses the line as a detour if its regular route is closed.

California Historic Landmark

A California historic landmark reads:

No. 508 TEHACHAPI LOOP – From this location you can see part of the world-famous Loop , completed in 1876 under the direction of William Hood, a Southern Pacific railroad engineer . In the elevation around Loop’s central hill, the 4,000-foot train will cross 77 feet above its rear cars in the tunnel below.

Tehachapi Loop.

The Tehachapi Loop is a railroad structure in California ( USA ). The traffic circle route – comparable to a spiral tunnel – through the Tehachapi Mountains bridges the difference in elevation in the form of a 1.17 km long loop (Loop ). This is how the long trains cross.

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The Tehachapi Pass railroad line connects Bakersfield in the San Joaquin Valley with Mojave in the Antelope Valley . It was built between 1874 and 1876 by the Southern Pacific Railroad under Chief Engineer William Hood. The single-track route created the first railroad connection between San Francisco and Los Angeles .

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The original mountain route consisted of 18 tunnels, ten bridges, and numerous water towers to supply the steam locomotives. It was built in less than two years to 3,000 workers from China under the direction of American civil engineer J. B. Harris. At the time it was considered one of the greatest technical masterpieces of its time. At 45 km (28 miles) long with an average gradient of 2.2 percent, it overcomes an elevation difference of about 1,000 meters.

Der steile Anstieg zwischen Caliente und dem Tehachapi Pass stellte eine Herausforderung für die Konstrukteure dar. Nachdem die Trasse zunächst an den Ausläufern des Gebirges an Höhe gewann, blieb das fast unlösbar scheinende Problem, auf geringem Raum einen Anstieg um 23,50 Meter (77 Fuß ) reach. William Hood solved the problem by building what was then a unique loop. The route leads from Keene to the southeast through a short tunnel, then goes counterclockwise around the hill, crosses the tunnel and continues to the east. The loop is about 370 meters in diameter.

The Tehachapi Loop is part of an extremely winding route through the mountains. The twists and turns add up to about 8,300 degrees, which is more than 23 times the circumference. To cope with the climb, trains between Bakersfield and Tehachapi will be reinforced with additional locomotives.

After the 1952 earthquake, the buried section and collapsed tunnels were ready for service again in just three weeks. The American Society of Civil Engineers describes the Tehachapi Loop as one of the seven railroad wonders of the world. In 1998, the association named the Tehachapi Loop a National Historic Civil Engineering Landmark . The Loop has been a California State Historic Landmark since 1953 ( California State Historic Landmark No. 508).

The line is currently owned by the Union Pacific Railroad, which took over the Southern Pacific in 1996. It is also used by the BNSF railroad under a 1899 right-of-way agreement. A maximum speed of 37 kilometers per hour applies within the loop.

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The Tehachapi Loop is popular with rail fans because it combines frequent train traffic (40 to 60 long freight trains a day) with spectacular scenery. A special event was the passage of two passenger trains through the ring on June 22, 2008, because since 1971, only freight trains have operated on this route. The Railroad Museum with historic exhibits is located in the historic railroad depot in the neighboring town of Tehachapi . The Tehachapi Depot Railroad Museum burned down in June 2008 , shortly before it was scheduled to open, was rebuilt and opened on June 5, 2010.

The Tehachapi Loop is located in Walong , a census-designated location in Kern County . The name is reminiscent of WA Long, the district roadmaster of the South Pacific. Siding and Siding, built in 1909 on the rise , known as Walong Siding .

A white cross on top of the hill in the middle of the loop commemorates two Southern Pacific Railroad workers killed in the May 12, 1989 train derailment in San Bernardino .

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