Rail Road Tugs & East Trescend
Approximately 2 miles west of Promontory Point the causeway bends north before turning west on its path across the lake. This bend in the causeway was created in the early 1950’s when the railroad bypassed the original 1903 trestle to complete a solid causeway across Great Salt Lake. This “bend” in the causeway has formed a protective cove from the waves. This bend is known as the East Trescend or East V. Ten nautical miles on the causeway west of the East Trescend is a similar bend called the West Trescend that also offers protection from the sea.
Three tugs and a 165’ barge were stored between the 1903 trestle and the causeway. The barge was stored over at the West Trescend. The tugs were moored over at the East Trescend. In the 1980’s when the lake began to rise dramatically the railroad company, in order to protect the causeway from the barge or tugs being washed up on the tracks, sunk them. The barge was refloated several years later by Trestlewood but the tugs still remain over in the East Trescend. The hulls are quite rusty and parts of the decks and wheel houses have caved in. One tug is upside down. They make for a very interesting excursion into the history of the causeway.
Navigation to East Trescend
Navigation to the East Trescend is very straight forward. From the Great Salt Lake Marina, sail a heading of 321° magnetic for 33 nautical miles. There are no obstacles to navigation until you start approaching the causeway. The waypoint for the tugs is 41° 13.055’ north by 112° 32.116’ west. Stay west of this position as you begin your initial approach towards the Trescend. This will keep you off a shallow ridge that juts out from Promontory Point. As you start your final approach to the Trescend approach at a slow safe speed as there is still some debris on the bottom of the lake from the railroad. You will see a jetty sticking out to the west from the East Trescend. This is the remnants of the old 1903 trestle where it went to landfill and became a wooden trestle. By the way, the section of landfill causeway from Promontory Point to the East Trescend is known as the Saline section.
As you see the jetty protruding out from the East Trescend you will want to slowly and carefully round the jetty to your starboard keeping a good lookout for possible debris. Once past the jetty you can turn due east and enter the East Trescend. At this point you will easily see the tugs. You can sail about halfway into the Trescend before encountering very shallow water full of large boulders.
Bear in mind that the causeway is owned by Southern Pacific and is private property. The railroad doesn’t seem too concerned with people boating there but if you climb up the causeway onto the tracks keep a good watch for trains. This track is still very actively used.
The tugs are definitely worth seeing and are part of the history of Great Salt Lake. But wander (carefully) across the tracks and peer at the pink water. The north half of the lake is the color of pink lemonade due to a particular type of bacteria and the red algae that flourishes up there.
Take good hiking shoes with you. The terrain is very rocky ad has a lot of small rusty railroad debris strewn about. And one word of caution; during spider season (mid summer) the ground literally crawls with spiders. If you think the marina is bad, the East Trescend will redefine that word for you. The railroad doesn’t spray for spiders.
The pilings in the background are gone now. This picture shows the jetty leaving the East Trescend and heading the West.