The 113-year-old monument in Death Valley was damaged when someone removed their stuck car from atop it.

Death Valley National Park Suffers Damage to Historical Monument Due to Illegal Off-Roading

Death Valley National Park, known for its stunning landscapes and unique natural features, has once again fallen victim to destructive behavior by illegal off-roaders. This time, the damage resulted in the destruction of a historical monument that had stood for over a century.

The National Park Service issued a statement on Monday, seeking more information about the destruction of Saline Valley Salt Tram Tower Number One. According to the release, the tower was damaged when someone went off the legal road and got stuck in the mud between April 1 and April 24. During the process of winching the vehicle out, the operators inadvertently tore the tower and its concrete bases from the ground.

Superintendent Mike Reynolds expressed his disappointment at the loss, stating, “I’ve walked through sections of this streetcar and I’m amazed at the tenacity it took to build it. I hope the person responsible for this damage contacts us so we can discuss restitution.”

The Saline Valley Salt Tram Tower Number One was installed by the Saline Valley Salt Company in 1911. It was a part of a 13-mile cable car system that transported salt from Saline Valley to Owens Valley, traversing more than 7,000 vertical feet with grades of up to 40 degrees. The construction of the tram was a remarkable engineering feat, especially considering the challenging environment of Death Valley. Only the first four towers of the tram are located within the boundaries of the national park, as most of them extend into areas protected by the Bureau of Land Management. The National Park Service has listed the tram on the National Register of Historic Places for its age, length, grade, scenic setting, and preservation efforts.

The incident involving the destruction of the historical monument is not an isolated case of off-road vehicles causing damage in Death Valley National Park. In the past, there have been reports of illegal off-roaders leaving tracks across dry lake beds, including the iconic Badwater Basin, the lowest point in North America. The NPS has had to deal with extensive damage caused by these reckless actions.

Prior to the recent incident, the National Park Service had already planned a salt tram stabilization project to preserve the remaining structures. The funding for the project comes from the Inflation Reduction Act, though it is unclear if the funds can be used to repair the damaged tower. The NPS is urging the public to contact the information line at 888-653-0009 or visit the official website for more details.

As the park authorities work to address the damage caused by illegal off-roading, it serves as a reminder of the importance of respecting and preserving our national parks and historical monuments. The actions of a few can have lasting impacts on these cherished natural and cultural treasures.

If you have any information or questions regarding this incident, feel free to contact the author directly at caleb@thedrive.com. Let us all do our part in protecting and preserving the natural beauty of Death Valley National Park for future generations.