National Geographic : 1926 Jan
ON THE TRAIL OF THE AIR MAIL 'hotograpl by Captami A. W. Stevens THE DOUBLE-TRACK SYSTEM OF THE SOUTHERN PACIFIC RAILROAD IN TIHE SIERRA NEVADA One track cuts through the hills in tunnels, while the other track pursues a more circuitous route, possessing the advantage of easier grades, but involving a longer distance of haul. The photograph covers territory a few miles west of Colfax, California. The railroad line with sharp curves, on the left-hand side of the picture, swinging around Lander Station, is the old Central Pacific, now westbound track. The line showing Tunnels 30, 31, and 32 is the eastbound track. About two miles beyond the top of the picture, in the direction of Reno, is the town of Colfax. approached and all seemed propitious when it was discovered that no gasoline had been provided! In mortification and haste, in the pres ence of the highest officials of the land, the tank of every aircraft on the field was drained to fill that of the mail ship; and, 16 minutes late, the first Air Mail plane took off for Philadelphia, there to con nect with a relay plane for New York. It was destined never to arrive. The pilot, a young and inexperienced cadet, could not even find Baltimore, only 35 miles away. Completely lost, he at tempted to land near a small town to in quire his way. The excited farmers who gathered around his overturned plane in formed the would-be courier that he was 25 miles from Washington, in the oppo site direction from the required route! Nor does this complete the tragic tale. The following day the same pilot was given another-and last-chance to fol low the elusive air trail to Philadelphia.