|Walong (The Tehachapi Loop)|
Probably the most widely recognizable feature is the famous Tehachapi Loop. Located about 8 railroad miles west of Tehachapi, the Tehachapi Loop was the greatest engineering achievement on the line between Northern and Southern California (some may argue the greatest achievement in the west, if not North America). At this location, trains enter Tunnel #9 at milepost 351. After emerging from the short (126 foot) tunnel, the tracks begin a long left handed curve around the side of a small hill. After about 7/10ths of a mile, the tracks pass 77 feet above the tunnel, having gained a direct approach from the summit high above Tehachapi Creek.
Walong siding was originally built in 1909 on the upper portion of the loop. Eventually it was extended to the east portal of Tunnel #9 wrapping completely around the loop itself. Although I have read several possibilities on the origin of the name being from Indian language, It seems more likely that the name was taken from past SP District Roadmaster W.A. Long (as noted in John Signor's book "Tehachapi").
Directions to Walong:
To reach the Loop and Walong siding: Travel east from Bakersfield on State Highway 58 to the Keene exit. Pass under the highway, and turn right on Woodford-Tehachapi Road. Proceed east on Woodford-Tehachapi Road approximately 2 miles. Tunnel #9 will come into view to the left (north) side of the road. A dirt road will leave to the left side of Tehachapi-Woodford Road in this area. This road will lead to the top of the loop and accesses the siding and the memorial bench above the tunnel. Continuing east on Woodford-Tehachapi Road an additional mile will lead to a roadside turnout with state historical markers overlooking the Loop from the hillside to the east. From this location, you can view the railroad from Tunnel #10 east of the loop all the way down to the highway crossing near the west end of Woodford (about 4 miles of railroad). This vantage point is a must for first time visitors.