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The First Railroads

Turning Point

Well satisfied with their labors, the committee started for home, to be caught in the worst storm of the season and to reach San Bernardino after three days of hard, wet traveling. At the appointed time they met the two railroad men, accompanied by their engineer, Morley, and Harry I. Willey, at the Santa Margarita Rancho, and drove back to San Bernardino.

In the meantime a bureau of information had been started in this city; a collection of its various products was gathered together, and all the information available regarding the resources of the county and its possibilities was compiled for the visiting railroad directors. Mr. Perris also took Engineer Morley over the line, from Santa Magarita through the San Gorgonio and Morongo Passes and to the summit of Cajon Pass, and Mr. Morley remarked of the Cajon Pass, which had been pronounced as insurmountable, "This is nothing; we can go through here easily enough."

An editorial in the Times of November 30, 1879, regarding the visit of these Santa Fe railway officials, says : "We have spent several days with the gentlemen now among us representing the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe railway, and we are forced to the conclusion that their visit here is not a mere dodge, but that they mean business and are in earnest in their efforts to learn the feasibility of a road to our coast, the best route to be taken by it, the present and possible resources of the country through which they would pass, and other points bearing upon their line as a paying investment. They are here as an investigating committee, and upon their report future action will be taken by their company, and it is for the purpose of making an intelligent report that they are staying among us so long and making so studious an examination of the counties of Southern California."

As a result of the investigations of this committee the route by the way of Cajon Pass was decided upon and work was begun from the San Diego terminus in 1880, and by May, 1881, the graders were at work in Temecula canon. The question of the route to be pursued between Temecula and the Cajon Pass was still unsettled. Riverside was making strenuous efforts to bring the line through the Temescal valley, Arlington and Riverside. As inducements she offered "free right of way from the Laguna (Elsinore lake) to the Santa Ana river at the narrows, $10,000 from the Tin company, 500 to 1,000 acres from the Sierra Ranch owners, $5,000 from the citizens of Arlington and vicinity, and 500 acres in the lower part of Riverside valley."

Another route was surveyed by way of Box Springs which would bring the line nearer to San Bernardino. Railroad meetings were held and propositions were made, but nothing definite was arrived at.

August 21, 1882, the Southern California road was completed to Colton and a regular service put on, thus giving San Diego an outlet to the east and to San Francisco. Here construction stopped for nearly a year, and San Bernardino still debated the question of what she would offer to secure a depot within her own limits. At length she guaranteed right of way and depot grounds, amounting to some $20,000 in value, and it was settled that the road should pass through San Bernardino, and thence through the Cajon Pass to join the eastern extension which was being pushed through New Mexico and Arizona.

September 13, 1883, the first train whistle rang through the city of San Bernardino. But the long-awaited event had not been attained without a final struggle. The Southern Pacific road had interposed every possible obstacle-legal and material-to the advent of its rival. Its last stand was made at the intersection of the roads at Colton. Injunctions had been served to restrain the California Southern road, and some of its property at San Diego had been attached. Rather an amusing incident occurred with regard to the railroad crossing which was intended to be used at Colton. The San Diego Sun reports:

"The California Southern Railroad Company perpetrated the best joke of the season on the Southern Pacific Company, on Thursday night. It appears that among the property levied on by the latter company was the railroad crossing to be used at Colton. It had remained at National City for several months, and Mr. Bradt was ordered to take charge of it, as deputy sheriff, on Thursday. The limb of the law, when night came on, instead of sitting on the crossing, went to the hotel and was soon wrapped in profound slumber, dreaming of the sheriff's sale which was destined to never take place. Meanwhile the defendant got a force of men, hoisted the crossing on a car and immediately dispatched a special train to Colton. The surprise of Mr. Bradt when he arrived at the yards in the morning and found that his charge had been transported to San Bernardino county can better be imagined than described."

The Southern Pacific found it convenient to station locomotives and cars along its tracks where the crossing was to be placed, and at one time it looked as though serious trouble might arise, but when the last legal steps had failed and the company found themselves in danger of "contempt of court" proceedings, they removed the hindrances and aided in laying the disputed crossing.

The rejoicing over the entrance of the railroad was soon turned to mourning. The winter of 1883-4 proved to be a flood year-second only to the great flood of 1862. Many washouts occurred along the line of the newly constructed road, and some fifteen miles of track through the Temecula canon was completely destroyed. This canon is a narrow, winding gorge with most precipitous sides. The eastern engineers refused to believe that the modest little stream trickling through the bottom of the canon far below their track- could ever harm their carefully planned grades and bridges. They had lessons to learn concerning California streams.

For a time the railroad outlook was gloomy for San Bernardino, and black -dead black-for San Diego. No move was made to repair the road, and in response to inquiries the railroad officials gave very unsatisfactory answers. The Southern Pacific, on the approach of the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe, had built a branch from its main line at Mojave across to the Needles on the Colorado river, in order to secure the subsidy offered by the government for the first line building through this territory. This branch, completed in April. 1883, seriously interfered with the plans of the new road. It must either parallel the Southern Pacific, or buy out the line from Needles to Mojave. The latter course was finally agreed upon, and in July, 1884, an arrangement was entered into whereby the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe secured the use of the Mojave line, and also the right to run their trains over the Southern Pacific tracks into San Francisco. At the same time it was announced that the California Southern extension would be completed to Waterman (now Barstow) and the breaks fully repaired. Work after this was pushed rapidly. Two hundred and fifty thousand dollars was expended in repairing and rebuilding the line through the Temecula canon, and the extension was hurried along. In November, 1885, the California Southern was completed to Barstow, and San Bernardino turned out with fireworks and bands to welcome her first transcontinental train. The editor of the Times, Saturday, November 14, 1885, comments thus:

"The last spike on the California Southern Railway was driven to-day, and San Bernardino is now in rail connection with the mining section and all of central United States by means of the Atlantic & Pacific and its branches. This important event, the most important in our history, has taken place quietly, without fuss or feathers, and while generally known, is the subject of no comment or rejoicing. Yet with the opening of this road a new era dawns upon us. San Bernardino will have on the railroad maps and time tables of the future a "local habitation and a name." She will no longer be ignored as heretofore, but will take her proper place as the second city of Southern California. She will be made the distributive point for this section, and goods from the East will be left off at the San Bernardino depot, and not shipped first to Los Angeles and then returned to Colton with charges to pay both ways. The immense mining trade of which we have so long been deprived will now return to us. Eastern people will know of us and come here. The trains that pass will go through a fertile portion of our valley and not through the desert portion of it, and travelers who pass through will not believe as heretofore that San Bernardino was a desert and nothing else. All this is before us. The turning point in our history has come, and we greet it as we do all other blessings in silence. We are perhaps the most undemonstrative people in- America. Nothing short of an earthquake will shake us up. San Diego is preparing for a great celebration on the completion of the road, and we-well. we'll let 'em; but we'll just be durned ef we'll make any fuss about it."

Evidently the editorial took effect, as the first train was duly welcomed.

The California Central had already begun the construction of the numerous branch lines which have made it the beneficiary of Southern California. In 1884 a survey was made for a line between San Bernardino and Los Angeles, via Pasadena and the San Gabriel Valley. In 1885 the Riverside, Santa Ana & Los Angeles Railway was incorporated to build the line through the Santa Ana canon.


The First Railroads

L.A. & Independence

The Southern Pacific

Southern Routes

Southern Pacific

The Santa Fe System

Turning Point

The Proposal

Railroad Building

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