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The National Park Service (NPS) is requesting assistance with finding out who damaged a historic salt tram tower in Death Valley National Park. The 113-year-old tower came down between April 1 and April 24, NPS says. It suspects this happened when someone used it to winch their vehicle out of deep mud.

The Saline Valley Salt Tram has a rich history dating back to 1911. The Saline Valley Salt Company constructed it. The 13-mile tramway was an engineering marvel designed to transport salt from Saline Valley to Owens Valley. It climbs over 7,000 vertical feet, with some sections having steep vertical grades up to 40 degrees.

Due to its age, length, steepness, and notable surrounding landscape, the Saline Valley Salt Tram is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. As such, it’s considered nationally significant.

Historic landmark salt tram tower #1 in Death Valley National Park
Salt Tram Tower #1 before damage | National Park Service

Most of the tramway is on land managed by the Bureau of Land Management. However, the first four towers are within Death Valley National Park. The damaged tower, known as Tower #1, is the closest to the Saline Valley lakebed.

The damage may have occurred weeks before being discovered

Park rangers discovered nearby vehicle tracks leading off the legal road into the mud. It appears the tower was used as an anchor to free the stuck vehicle, causing it to topple over and rip its concrete footings out of the ground.

Before this incident, the NPS had plans for a salt tram stabilization project funded by the Inflation Reduction Act. It is yet to be determined if the funds can be used to fix this specific damage to Tower #1.

The damaged Salt Tram Tower #1, toppled over from what appears to be a winch used to haul a stuck vehicle
Historic Salt Tram Tower #1 after damage | National Park Service

The NPS requests you contact them if you have any information about this incident. The tip line can be reached at 888-653-0009 or visit