125 Years At Laws

On Saturday, a crowd gathered at the Laws Museum to celebrate the 125th anniversary of the Carson and Colorado railroad (later the Southern Pacific) arriving in the Owens Valley. The railroad is long gone; but with some of the old equipment still around, volunteers and rail fans keep the spirit alive at Laws.

For the re-enactment of the first train to arrive at Laws on April 1, 1883, locals dressed as dignitaries from the past and joined the ceremony behind Old Smokey, a Plymouth diesel locomotive out of the Pine Creek Mine.

Volunteer Max Cox, dressed in the black and white garb of a railroad station agent, filled the part of Harry Mann, the first station agent at Laws 125 years ago. He read aloud a letter from the Carson and Colorado Corporate Office, explaining why none of the company big wigs would attend the celebration. Instead, locals from the present playing locals from the past spoke of what great and wonderful changes would come to the Owens Valley now that the railroad had connected this remote area to the outside world.

Doug Buchanan, playing an old time promoter, told the crowd that with modern high speed rail travel that could move goods to Reno in 21 hours, its obvious that Inyo County is about to become the richest county in California.

The old promotions of Inyo County may not have played out quite like people in 1883 might have envisioned, but the railroad kept running through 1959 when diesel trucks and declining business finally drove the last nail into what was once planned to be the rail link between the Carson River to the north and the Colorado River to the south.

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