Excavators working on the Grass Valley roundabout unearthed a relic of the early 20th century this week: giant iron rails that were once part of a trolley line between Grass Valley and Nevada City.
Workers from Hansen Bros. Enterprises stumbled upon 40-foot lengths of track Monday afternoon, but the company said the weather, not the discovery of the rails, would be the only thing that could stop the $2 million project from being finished later this month.
City officials had no idea of the find until they were contacted by a reporter on Tuesday.
City Administrator Dan Holler didn't think the excavating of the rails would set the project back.
"The weather will be the difference in this project," he said.
The tracks didn't show up on the environmental impact report, City Engineer Tim Kiser said.
The tracks were found across the street from the Chevron gas station at the intersection of East Main Street, Idaho-Maryland Road and the Golden Center Freeway, Hansen Bros. superintendent Dwayne Glover said. It's doubtful more tracks will be found at the site, he added.
"If we were building up the road, we'd probably find more," Glover said Tuesday.
The Nevada County Traction Company operated a 4.8-mile electric streetcar line between downtown Grass Valley and Nevada City from 1901 to 1924, when a snowstorm damaged overhead lines, blocked the tracks and shut down the line for good. That's according to the Web site operated by the modern enterprise of the same name, offering train rides to the historic Chinese cemetery just east of Nevada City.
Hansen Bros. employee Scott Wetzell plans to take the railroad tied to his hillside mining claim on La Barr Meadows Road.
"I'm gonna set 'em up, as long as it's not against anyone's feelings" or illegal, Wetzell said as he maneuvered a backhoe at the intersection. "I'm going to clean them up and set 'em up on the edge of the claim. They're quite the conversation piece."
In his years as a Hansen employee, Wetzell has collected old straps, nails, hammers and other items he has discovered from as far back as the Gold Rush era.
He said he's just a collector.
"And I love it," Wetzell added.
To contact Staff Writer David Mirhadi, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or call 477-4239.