Lawler Junction 1930 circa…
As you stand in the trail head parking lot below Alan Bible Visitor Center, it is hard to believe that in the 1930’s during the Boulder Dam Construction, later called Hoover, that it was a busy railroad switch yard. If you look hard you can still see some remains of the rail bed. The trail from this parking lot going east to the dam is built on the spur going to the the “Himix” site above the dam. The trail going west under the road, the River Mountains Loop Trail follows the the old rail bed 3.5 miles uphill into Boulder City. The original rail line ran 10-miles up into Boulder City meandering through Hemingway Wash to keep the grade at or below 4%. Most of the line within Boulder City has been consumed by development. Lawler Junction was also known as ” U.S. Government Junction”
Lawler Junction, was named after H.J. Lawler, a director with Six Companies Inc.. Who built the rail road as part of the Boulder Dam construction. To serve the dam three different railroad segments were built. First, Union Pacific Railroad built a 23-mile spur out of Las Vegas mainline, through what is now Henderson, to a rail supply yard in Boulder City. The second piece was built by the U. S. Government from Boulder City down through Hemingway Wash to the “Himix” site above the dam. The third rail road segment was built by the Six Companies Inc. which is better described below. They also operated the railroad from Boulder City to the dam. (Note in the black and white photo the large crack/seam in the rock to the left of the train; you can still see that crack today at the very top of the connecting trail down on to the visitor parking garage. Look for it next time you go on the Historic Railroad Trail)
From Lawler Jct. the railroad went north for 7-miles to Saddle Island and then east to a gravel plant that is now submerged under the lake. From the gravel plant the line split into two branches . One line ran south for 4.8 miles to Hoover Dam via Cape Horn to Lomix(Lower Level Concrete Mixing Plant). The second line ran north from the gravel plant 7.3-miles across the Las Vegas Wash and crossed the Colorado River over a bridge(see photo below) into Arizona to the Arizona gravel pits located near Callivlle.
Today Lawler Junction serves as the junction for two major trail systems providing connectivity yet again to Hoover Dam and Boulder City. The trails are the Historic Railroad Trail and the River Mountains Loop Trail. The Historic Railroad Trail is about 4-miles one-way to the Hoover Dam visitor center. The River Mountains Loop Trail is a 34-mile loop trail that will connect you to Boulder City, Henderson, Lake Las Vegas, and the Las Vegas Valley via connecting trails.