The Great Desert Railroad Race

This was filmed, in part, in Campo in April, 2001.  It included our yard track gang laying track, and ripping it up. It also included a shot of Museum volunteer Jim Baker making a speech from the observation platform of the #050 to the assembled track workers.

It was a battle between two kings. The Borax King, Francis Marion Smith and the Copper King, William Andrews Clark. The goal was to build a great railroad that would penetrate deep into the heart of America’s most formidable desert and reach the booming gold fields and newly struck borax mines near Death Valley.  Smith wanted to beat his rival, William Andrews Clark and his Las Vegas and Tonopah line which he was starting from the tiny town of Las Vegas and moving toward the boomtowns. Smith was running his Tonopah and Tidewater Railroad through the heart of the Death Valley country. The race began in 1905 and by 1907 it was all over: the race, the gold rush and both railroads were nearly bankrupt. But the Tonopah and Tidewater hung on for another 30 years and outlasted Clark’s line by nearly 20 years. The Tonopah and Tidewater became one of the West’s most beloved railroads.  This is the story of how two men’s ambition changed the face of the great Mojave Desert, bringing railroads and civilization to the valley named Death. 

Highly Recommended – Editor’s Choice

Approximately 51 minutes,
Color and B/W, Archival Stills and Film, Location Shots and Re-Enactments 

Produced, Written and Directed by: Ted Faye

A Gold Creek Films Production in Association with C4 Pictures

4310 Arcola Avenue

Toluca Lake, CA 91602


 Retail Price: $20.00

Page by Randy Houk, Last update: 1-14-2005