Tracks through the Carrizo Gorge. Photo via Wikimedia Commons

The Pacific Southwest Railway Museum and the San Diego Model Railroad Museum will jointly host a lecture on the “impossible railroad” to mark the 100th Anniversary of the San Diego & Arizona Railway.

The lecture and receptions are scheduled from 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, July 25, at the model railroad museum on The Prado in Balboa Park.

The public is invited to attend and admission to the event is free. Light refreshments will be available.

Pacific Southwest Railway Museum volunteer Jim Price will discuss the history of the 148-mile railway connecting San Diego with El Centro. Also attending will be Reena Deutsch, author of “The Impossible Railroad, the San Diego & Arizona Railway.”

The presentation will feature old photos and stories about the 1919 completion of the railroad, which was financed by entrepreneur John D. Spreckels at a cost of $18 million, or roughly $123,000 per mile.

It was called the “impossible railroad” due to the immense logistical challenges, which included 11 miles through the treacherous Carrizo Gorge, an area where cliffs dropped more than 1,000 feet to the bottom. Additional construction challenges included floods, landslides, fires, hot weather, deaths from the flu, sabotage by Mexican revolutionaries and various delays caused by World War I.

The presentation will include details about a reenactment of the driving of the final spike to be held Saturday, Nov. 16, at Campo Railroad Park.

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