We headed back in to Truckee one evening for dinner. We were eating at a restaurant called Cottonwood. It is only a short distance from the center of the town but it is up on a hillside so has a great view down to the main street. The sun went down while we were having dinner which was taken out on the terrace. The restaurant has a cool sign that illuminates when it gets dark. Meanwhile, the town lights up beneath you. It was a bit chilly – they didn’t turn on the outdoor heaters – but you could have a blanket if you wanted. We did fine without but, if it had got much colder, I might have taken them up on the offer.
While we were walking around Truckee, a UP freight train pulled in to the town just short of a grade crossing. At first I assumed it was going to head into the pass but it didn’t move. We then figured out that an Amtrak train was due in from the opposite direction but was running about an hour late. (The flight only started in the Bay Area so I have no idea how late it might have ended up being by the time it got to Chicago.) Since there is only a single track, the UP train had to wait until the route was clear. We left before it did so I hope they got on their way before too long.
While reading some of the material at the Donner Memorial, I saw some pictures of a cool looking bridge. A similar style to the Bixby Creek Bridge, this one was above Donner Lake. It is on the old highway which is now bypassed by the interstate. We were heading off in a different direction but we were coming back to Truckee on another day for dinner so I decided to check this place out prior to that. Since it would be early evening, the light should be in a good place too.
It turns out I timed it just a fraction wrong. The sun was low across the lake which did look very nice. Unfortunately, the bridge was in the shadow of the surrounding hills so it was rather subdued compared the rest of the view. A little earlier and it would have looked great. Oh well, too late to change that. Maybe if I am up that way again, I will plan a bit more carefully and see what I can get.
Of course, Donner Pass and Donner Lake are named for the Donner Party. If you are not familiar with American history, this was a group heading west that got trapped in the pass in winter and many did not make it out alive. Those that survived had to do some harsh things to make it. The tale is a sad one and there is a memorial to the party near one end of the lake at the location in which they camped. There is a visitors’ center and a number of trails. The focal point is a large memorial. The base of the memorial is as high as the snow was reportedly deep that winter. It is a lot of snow! On top is a group of hardy travelers. When you think what people went through to get across the country in those days, they were truly hardy types.
I posted photos of Donner Lake a while back as I was traversing the Sierras en route to Reno. This time we got a lot longer to look around. We did stop at the overlook on the interstate but then we dropped down the hill to the lake itself. There was a nice beach at one end which had a few people visiting even though it was rather early in the year. Some of the houses built along the lake looked pretty nice too. I imagine they would be very pleasant places to spend some relaxing time.
Prior to visiting Truckee, I knew virtually nothing about it. I knew some people who had visited and liked it but I knew not much at all other than that it was a station on the railroad over the Sierras. It turns out to be a great little town. The main street provides a lot to see and do on a day out. The variety of buildings is interesting and there is a nice map you can pick up at the visitors’ center that explains the history of various places and the background to the town itself. It has gone through a number of phases as the economy of the area has developed.
The Truckee Hotel looks very cool. A colleague of mine stayed there a couple of years ago and had a great time. A gas station has been restored and used as office space but it looks just like an operational gas station still. The train depot includes the visitors’ center along with the Amtrak station. There are plenty of places to eat and a good selection of shops with arts, crafts and other items. We walked the length of the town and checked out the various buildings. The street runs alongside the river and there is some more on the other side although not as much to attract your attention. The town is not all though. There is more in the vicinity for another post. This would not be our only visit to the town on this trip either.