The Big Sur Railroad’s Trestle Could Fall

How an ‘ancient landslide’ keeps threatening a railroad, homes in San Clemente, CA

Aerial video shows the potential slide of the Big Sur Railroad trestle, which could topple buildings and land cars — if it breaks loose and lands somewhere in Central California.

Aerial video taken from a helicopter on Friday shows the potential landslide that could collapse the Big Sur Railroad trestle, and land cars, homes and businesses — if it breaks loose and lands somewhere in Central California. less Aerial video taken from a helicopter on Friday shows the potential landslide that could collapse the Big Sur Railroad trestle, and land cars, homes and businesses — if it breaks loose and lands somewhere in… more Photo: Courtesy of Big Sur Railroad Photo: Courtesy of Big Sur Railroad Image 1 of / 1 Caption Close How an ‘ancient landslide’ keeps threatening a railroad, homes in San Clemente, CA 1 / 1 Back to Gallery

A railroad trestle in Big Sur has a history that might make you think of a Hollywood blockbuster: a man was killed by his own train after his wagon flipped over the hill.

And the story hasn’t ended yet.

When a landslide on a railroad trestle collapsed the bridge on the Big Sur Railroad in 2017, the trestle was still under repair. The next day, the bridge again came down. Then the slide, apparently triggered by water seeping over the roadbed, started again. The Big Sur Railroad is hoping for another $4.5 million in repairs — and the $30 million infrastructure project it is paying for.

On Friday, the Big Sur Railroad’s new CEO and president, Ed Ho, stood on the tracks behind a massive wooden trestle — the last big piece of infrastructure in town — on the edge of the Big Sur wilderness.

“Right now, we think it’s stable,” he said. “It’s a safe structure right now.”

Yet on the far side of the tracks, the trestle is being slowly undermined because of a combination of water seeping into the roadbed beneath it, and gravity pushing it down the hill.

If the trestle does collapse, the Big Sur Railroad could lose thousands of dollars in infrastructure repair, and possibly lose hundreds of homes.

The cause of the slide

The Big Sur Railroad was built in

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