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The Eureka & Ruby Hill Railroad.

By John Barnhill

W hen viewed from the air, the Eureka & Ruby Hill (more commonly known as the Ruby Hill Railroad) trackplan much resembled the twisted X of a chromosome viewed through a microscope. Its history is just as intertwined with the Eureka & Palisade Railroad. With the E&P construction paused at Alpha during late 1874 to June of 1875, the Ruby Hill managed to become the first railroad in Eureka with construction beginning just months before the E&P finally reached town.

Originally the line ran from the Eureka Consolidated mines atop Ruby Hill, down to the company's furnaces at the north end of town. Operations consisted of daily trains made up of 10 six ton ore cars feeding the furnace and of course empties returning to the mines. Power was provided by a Baldwin built 0-6-0T, another 0-6-0T being added later. Residents quickly took to riding the new faster style of transportation inspiring the company to purchase one small coach for mainly safety reasons.

The rest of the X was added after the Eureka & Palisade purchased the line in 1875 when lines were built to the competing Richmond Consolidated mining company and its furnaces. From here to the end, the line was operated as the Ruby Hill branch of the E&P and its prosperity ebbed and flowed following along with that of the E&P and the mines served. As the mines were playing out, 1890 saw the Richmond smelter shut down with the Eureka following the next year. The Ruby Hill was abandoned in 1893. It first locomotive going to the West Side Lumber Company in Tuolumne, California and the second going to the Swayne Lumber Co in Oroville, California. This was not the complete end of the Ruby Hill however.

In 1902 the US Smelting, Refining & Mining Co purchased the old mines and helped the E&P pay for the rebuilding of the line. This time the route was shortened from the original 7 miles to only four. E&P cars were loaded directly and made the whole trip across the entire railroad to Palisade to be cross loaded onto Southern Pacific trains. These operations ended shortly though in 1910 with floods wiping out the E&P. For further history one should refer to the story of the Eureka & Palisade and its successor the Eureka Nevada Ry.


Revised: April 28, 2016.
Bibliography
Kneiss, Gilbert H. (1941). Bonanza Railroads. Stanford: Stanford University Press.
Myrick, David F. (1962). Railroads Of Nevada and Eastern California: Volume 1. (locomotive roster in Volume 2). Berkeley: Howell-North Books. ISBN 978-0-87417-193-8. (Recently reprinted by University of Nevada)

Reference Material Available Online:

Photographs

Collected Eureka & Ruby Railroad Photographs.
Images collected from private collections, libraries and historical societies.

Nevada \ Eureka and Ruby Hill Railroad.
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