This rail junction is located on a steep, short, local railroad line from the "mainline" in Reno, NV to the community of Stead.
The track is new/maintained and there is no evidence of an old siding.
As a train travels uphill, the train engineers stop and fiddle with it (I can only assume they are switching the junction), allow the train to pass, and then fiddle with it again before proceeding uphill.
Once the train has passed, it is in the "siding" position (a train traveling towards the photographer would turn off the main rail line into the ditch).
So if the same train then travels downhill and forgets to switch the junction, it would end up in the ditch.
What is the purpose of this junction?