US Highway 40 became Interstate Highway 80 when the Interstate Highway System started.
The problems here in California are such that our snow falls don't look like much when photographed. To get a better flavor of the January 1952 photo, you need to see this article: https://www.sfchronicle.com/thetake...hoto-9483403
Now you still don't understand. This is the stretch of the railroad where snow sheds are built to keep the snow off the tracks otherwise there would be no way to keep them cleared due to snow. At the beginning there were a few miles of snow sheds, then 40 miles more were added after the storms of January 1870. As snow removal improved the fire hazard sheds were removed. The thousands of feet of tunnel bored onto the granite, thirty nine individual tunnels in number, also keep snow off the tracks. In one article decades ago, this stretch of track from Roseville, CA in the west to Sparks, NV was called the "railroad in a barn."
Yet the snow sheds did not cover just the tracks. They were needed to cover the stations and housing for railroad employees as well. Even today houses in the area used in the winter have a second floor entrance with some having a third floor entrance for the bad winters.
Not all stations got covered with wood in the areas where snow wasn't so bad:
Now in 2021, all trains traverse the Sierra crest one mile south of Donner Pass via a 10,322 foot new tunnel, Tunnel No. 41. The original summit rail line abandoned in 2009. Current freight traffic may motivate the track to be relaid after the tunnel is re-bored to accommodate the double stack container loads as is now the norm. The summit is single tracked in places now slowing traffic. This route would save 70 miles over the Feather River Canyon (old Western Pacific) route UP now uses as well.
Yet even with snow sheds there was snow to remove from the uncovered tracks. Here it was done by rotary plows:
And at work:
Southern Pacific which was founded in 1865 took over the Central Pacific Railroad and the original trans-Sierra route of the Transcontinental Railway, with Union Pacific RR as the operational name beginning 1998. SP and UP were class 1 railroads. Most class 1 railroads in snowy areas may have one big rotary snow plow. SP was so good handling snow that they did not use the rotary plows every year. Yet, in the last four decades of the 20th Century SP had nine. Two were assigned in Oregon, Klamath Falls and Eugene. Five were assigned to Roseville, the western side beginning of the Sierra slope and the last two in Sparks the beginning of the eastern side Sierra slope. But when they were needed there was nothing better and faster.
Having long snow sheds and tunnels caused another problem because they were so long and so frequent that locomotive crews on steam locomotives had problems breathing when traversing the Sierras. That problem was solved by building reversed locomotives where the smokestack of the locomotive was located behind the crew cab. The cab forward locomotives were not small ones, they were articulated (mallet compound) locomotives with wheel arrangements first of 2-6-6-2 for the earlies and then "full size" 4-8-8-2. No other North American railroad used the Cab-Forward design. The last remaining example in existence is located in the California State Railway Museum in Sacramento, CA.
Now some numbers, Donner Summit gets anywhere from an average low of 35 feet to a high of 70 feet of snow per winter. Storms (blizzards) dropping 100 inches in a few days are not uncommon. Somewhat south in Tamarack, CA 390 inches of snow fell in January 1911. That resulted in a snow depth of 451 inches (37.58 feet) in March 1911. In 1906-7 it received 884 inches (73 & 2/3rds feet) for the winter season. Also in the Sierras at Mammoth Mountain (city and ski area) received only
668 inches in the 2010-11 season but it had slightly more than 13 yards of standing snow, 39.5 feet or 474 inches at the greatest depth of the season. This is why the ski area is normally open for the 4th of July. Great way to work on your bikini tan while skiing: https://laist.com/news/entertainmen...mmer-mammoth
Be aware that none of those numbers are speaking of drifting snow or the depth of snowdrifts. Snowdrifts are commonly 60 feet tall and up. Look at it like this. Take an elevator to the top of a six story building, walk to the edge of the roof and ski down.
Here is the view from the the Donner Summit Road at the Donner Summit Bridge in 1926. Not to be confused with the Old Donner Summit Road which was part of the original Lincoln Highway of 1913, the first transcontinental US highway for automobiles from San Francisco to New York City. The Donner Summit Road replaced the Old Donner Summit Road for that area of the Lincoln Highway. The roadway known as US 40 dedicated in 1926 ran from San Francisco to Atlantic City NJ over much of the then current location of the Lincoln Highway. Then US 40 in the Donner Summit area was moved northward to near or at the approximate location where Interstate 80 is now located. Having been build as an improved highway then meeting the minimum military construction requirement of an interstate highway all of the old 40 had to be replaced or new sections of road were built from scratch.
Gelatt, Ca., located on the west end of Donner Lake, east of Donner Pass in operation 1923-35. Bridge still there in use and is about 2000 feet east of the historic original Central Pacific-Southern Pacific-Union Pacific Donner Summit Tunnel of the transcontinental railroad.
Interestingly during that January 1952, the Western Pacific's portion of the California Zephyr ran without issue a little farther to the north via the Feather River Canyon. Many, myself included, considered the train the most scenic route over the Sierras.
The California Zephyr started at the Western Pacific's Oakland Station and ended in Chicago.
The station still stands and contained among other businesses, my credit union.
A one day train ride was to Stockton, CA and back.
To see the Feather River Canyon it took an over night trip which allowed you to travel to Elko, NV and back.
Here is a winter view postcard at the Clio Trestle in the Sierras, from passengers on board, sent airmail back to the eastern start of Chicago from Sacramento. They noted they were "on the way" in the last car, the 5th Vista Dome car on the train.
Winter view postcard from 1962, photograph from unknown year in the Rocky Mountains. This included to mention the Moffat Tunnel a 6.2 mile tunnel under the Continental Divide through which the California Zephyr passed on the D&RGW RR leg of the journey.
Interestingly this card was not used by a current passenger. Annapolis, CA near the northern coast of California is far the Western Pacific line. Now ever, given the month and post office, Joan likely was writing grandma from Camp El Wa Ho, a girl scout camp property (now the Camp Liahona Redwoods) or Berkeley YMCA's Camp Gualala which both were served from the Annapolis, Ca post office. While Buckeye was a town name in several California location, none were near by. However, the native California Buckeye grew throughout the area.