In the 1870’s the Southern Pacific Railroad Company wanted to connect its Central Valley lines with its Southern California lines. The only way to make this possible was for tracks to be laid east from Bakersfield over the Tehachapi Mountains into the Mojave Desert and back to Los Angeles. The need resulted in one of the greatest engineering feats of its time, the Tehachapi Loop. The loop allows trains to gain the elevation necessary to make it up a portion of the mountains by making the incline more gradual. The loop is roughly 3,800 feet long and covers a 77 foot incline. The passage is traversed daily by an average of 50 freight trains, making it the busiest single-track line in the United States. Regular passenger train service through the loop was halted in the early 1970’s. However periodic track maintenance in other parts of the state requires a passenger train to detour through the loop. The last such passenger trip occurred on June 22, 2008 when two Amtrak passenger trains detoured through the loop due to track maintenance on route to Los Angeles. The occasion brought in railroad buffs from as far away as Chicago, Ill. From Bakersfield: (45 minutes, 40 miles) Take Highway 58 West to Keene. From Keene follow the sign to Tehachapi Loop. It is about three miles from Keene to the loop along a paved road. Off-street parking is available to view trains. Continue on about one mile past the Loop Ranch to get a view overlooking the loop. Note: Freight train schedules are not set, therefore there is no guarantee a train will be passing through the loop at any given time of day.