The abysmal water levels throughout Northern California currently sit at their lowest for 2021, with incoming storms bringing the prospect of replenishment to the local waterways. Until then, we are seeing the history of Shasta Lake that typically sits underwater.
When the Sacramento River was flooded with the building of the Shasta Dam in 1945, water covered the town of Kennett and put nearby highways and railroads underwater. One of those flooded relics was the Shasta Railroad Train Tunnel, which was built in 1884 and was used until it was covered in water 60 years later.
You may recall how kayakers were able to complete a unique paddle through the train tunnel in August. It became a viral sensation and a unique adventure on the water:
Fast forward to October, where the Shasta Railroad Train Tunnel is now fully exposed on the lake:
The one silver lining in an otherwise catastrophic drought is a glimpse into the past of NorCal. The town of Kennett peaked in the early 1900’s, with an estimated population of 10,000. The town was a frequent stop for travelers and a crucial hub along the railroad, with numerous stores, saloons, a hotel and a schoolhouse.
Located along the Sacramento River, the Kennett area was the perfect location to build a dam and in 1935, the government forced the people out of the town with the construction of the Shasta Dam. Most people sold their land to the government willingly, while some waited until the waters began to rise before abandoning their homes. Kennett was completely submerged by 1944, one year before the completion of the dam.
Seeing the fully exposed Shasta Railroad Train Tunnel is certainly a rare occurrence. Hopefully, we won’t experience similar droughts in the near future and the train tunnel will return to its underwater existence.