In the middle of the 19th century, when railroads defined cities, San Diego, California was just another dusty little town at the end of the desert, mired in rumor and politics and isolated by rough terrain. No one but John D. Spreckels would succeed in waking sleepy San Diego to the roar of trains and commerce. But what began as a simple rail link east became an ordeal that challenged a region’s destiny and one man’s determination to succeed where others had failed.
The Impossible Railroad chronicles the 13-year struggle of the San Diego and Arizona Railroad Construction. Using archival footage and interviews with historians and train enthusiasts, this one-hour documentary evokes the passion that went into linking San Diego to the rest of the nation. Could San Diego’s railroad have come too late to attract big business? Or did the obstacles that plagues its construction help to preserve the quality of life in the city? Filmed on location along the actual San Diego & Arizona Railroad line, The Impossible Railroad captures San Diego’s spectacular back country and gives new life to Spreckels’ dream by connecting San Diegans with a critical period in the city’s development.
Producer/Writer: Marianne Gerdes
Director of Photography: Michael Gerdes
Executive Producer: Robert Hooper
Cover photo: Ray Tatlock Photography