Area 51's Railroad

With how much Area 51 has been in the news recently, I figured it would be a good time to talk about one of the facility's more interesting (to me) pieces of infrastructure, at least that the US Government acknowledges exists, its railroad.

An L.A Times article from 2014 notes the railroad as well. It states, "[Thornton "T.D"] Barnes worked on a nuclear-rocket program called Project NERVA, inside underground chambers at Jackass Flats, in Area 51’s backyard. “Three test-cell facilities were connected by railroad, but everything else was underground." This implies that this is the extent of visible railroad operations at the facility, but more might exist underground for testing purposes.

First, let's talk about what we know. In the middle of the Nevada desert, or the "Nevada Test Site" on topo maps, exists a small railroad operation less than 7 miles in combined length. It is west of Groom Lake, otherwise known as Area 51, in an area known as Jackass Flats, or Area 25.

You can see the railroad's west end at approximately 36.832704, -116.311753 on Google Satellite Imagery. I've mapped this operation below;

This line is first acknowledged on topo maps in 1983, but it's unknown if it existed earlier, since the area became a top-secret facility sometime in the early 1950's. Were it located anywhere else, there probably wouldn't be much else to say about the operation, but this is Area 51, and the speculation can literally drive people mad with theories.

Honestly, it only appears as though the line was used to haul materials between the three different sites. It isn't connected to the rest of the rail network in any way that can be inferred by imagery. This isn't a secret transcontinental railroad, as has been suggested by some.

The entirety of the line is acknowledged in the 1986 Beatty Topo Map.
From imagery, there are a few interesting nuggets that can be found, however. At least part of the railroad still appears to be in operation, as rolling stock can be seen.

Two cars and a small engine appear at the south facility.
Many more cars can be seen on small branches emanating from a spur just north of here:

Pictured: The train from Super 8, probably.
A little sleuthing on behalf of my readers unearthed the fact that this line was unofficially known as the "Jackass & Western Railroad", and is out of service despite the existence of what appears to be rolling stock still along the line.

NOTE: I cannot stress enough how bad of an idea it is to trespass at Area 51, or any US Government facility, so please do not raid the area for any reason whatsoever. All of the information in this blog was derived from satellite imagery or government sources.

Thanks as always for reading!


  1. Actually, if these nutbags do actually 'storm' the site, it will be quite funny as they get picked-off like jack rabbits.


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