Looking South Into Mexico - The abandoned water tower at Dos Cabezas California (San Diego County) sits in the Sonoran Desert in Southern most part of Anza Borego State Park as monument of a bygone era when steam engines operated on the desert line through the Carizzo Gorge between El Centro and San Diego.
The mountain range in the distance to the left is Mexico and the International Border is just on the other side of the near mountain range.
Suffice it to say, there is a lot of Homeland Security agents, or what we in California once called Border Patrol, running around out in this part of the desert looking for drug mules and immigrants.
With regard to the railroad, construction started in 1906 and the line opened in 1919 (most of the rail in the gorge dates from 1914 – 1915). The original money to build the line was surreptitiously supplied by the Southern Pacific Railroad and the project went forward as the San Diego and Arizona Railway.
In 1932, the Southern Pacific Railroad bought out the SDA and ran the desert line as the San Diego & Arizona Eastern Railway (SD&AE). In 1970 SP sold the Tijuana & Tecate to the Mexican government; it has become an isolated part of the Sonora-Baja California Railway. (SP retained trackage rights)
In September of 1976, a hurricane damaged a 40-mile section of line, and SP petitioned for abandonment of all but a few miles from El Centro to Plaster City, California.
In 1979 San Diego's Metropolitan Development Board (MTDB) purchased three portions of the SD&AE; those being from from Plaster City to the International Border; from San Diego south of the border between San Ysidro California, and Tijuana, Baja California; and from Diego east to El Cajon California. (The MTDB owns the tracks through the gorge and has leased them long term to the Carizzo Gorge Railway.)
The MTDB eventually begain construction of a 16-mile transit line from the former AT&SF station in San Diego to the International Border. The trolley line shared track with the freight trains of the SD&AE and trolleys began operating in July 1981. This line has been under an embargo order and there has not been regularly scheduled traffic on the line since since 2008.