Colorado to Potholes

The Laguna Branch

Picture Point of Interest

GOOGLE MAPS no longer available: With apologies, I am unable to continue showing Google Maps. Google has forced my hand by increasing their map usage fee from nothing/free to OVER $300 A MONTH for the Abandoned Rails website! This is an expense that I simply cannot afford. Rest assured I am looking at available open source alternatives, so maps should be back online soon!

Greg Harrison

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The approximate right-of-way facing south in Laguna, next to Laguna Dam. Photo by Mike Palmer, May 2010.

This branch left the Southern Pacific (now Union Pacific) Sunset route near Winterhaven, CA, just west of the Colorado River crossing. It headed north, roughly followed the west bank of the Colorado River as far north as the Imperial Dam; it was most likely used for the construction of the Imperial Dam on the Colorado River. There are no signs or other evidence of the physical location of "Potholes", though a particular railroad map places it at the location of Laguna Dam.

The wye area on the mainline is visible on the satellite map, but at ground level it is largely inaccessible because it belongs to the Department of the Interior and Indian Tribal Lands.

Thanks to Mike Palmer for contributing information about this route.

Historic ICC Abandonment Filings

Docket Number: 10121 Date: 8/30/1933 Section: 1
App. of Southern Pacific RR. Co. and Southern Pacific Co., its lessee, for certificate to abandon that part of the Laguna Branch between Colorado and Potholes, a distance of 11.933 miles, in Imperial County, California.
Length: 11.933 miles Citation:  
Docket Number: 13105 Date: 11/26/1940 Section: 1
Application of Southern Pacific Railroad Company for authority to abandon a portion of the Laguna Branch in Imperial County, California distance of approximately 11.744 miles together with sidings spur tracks and appurtenances.
Length: 11.744 miles Citation: 244 ICC 159  

Where this line connected to the SP Main, just over the Colorado River from Yuma, there was actually a "Y". If any of you have ever seen the photo of SP Cab-Forward #4189, in one of the old Trains Magazine SP Books, you can see this line taking off on the right and on the left is the original SP Mail line crossing the highway. I would guess this photo was taken during or before WW II.

Paul McGuffin
Green Valley, AZ


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Do you have any pictures or information about The Laguna Branch? Please . You will get credit for anything you contribute.