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The First Railroads

The Proposal

In 1886 the California Southern proposed to the citizens of San Bernardino that if they would donate 18 acres of land adjoining the 20 acres already owned by the company, the Division Headquarters would be made at San Bernardino, and machine shops, depot and improvements to the amount of $200,000 would be at once put under way. The proposition was enthusias- tically accepted. A meeting was called and $10,000 raised on the spot toward the purchase price of the land. Again the editor of the Times was called upon to "whoop it up," and this is the way he did it:

"In answer to an invitation, privatelv sent out, a number of the citizens of our town who are interested in the further advancement of the place, met in the rear room of the Farmers' Exchange Bank, last evening, to see what plan could be arrived at for the advancing of those interests in which San Bernardino is directly intere: ted. The meeting was called to order by John Andreson, and on motion R. W. Waterman was chosen chairman and John Isaac secretary.

"H. L. Drew stated that the object of the meeting was to consider a proposition from the California Southern Railroad Company relative to making San Bernardino division headquarters, with machine shops, round-house, etc. The railroad company want the citizens of this town to give them eighteen acres of land contiguous to the land which the company at present own. The citizens desired to make their offer a cash one, but the company did not want the cash. What they want, and all they want, is the land, upon which they propose to erect their machine shops, etc. Colton has made them an offer, and we understand some of the officers of the company favor locating those improvements at Colton ; but Mr. Victor, superintendent, and Fred T. Perris, chief engineer, are in favor of San Bernardino, and will do all in their power for us, provided we will do our share. Mr. Perris stated to the meeting that he had been waiting and watching for an opportunity to make a definite proposition to the citizens of this place, and he considered that he could now lay before them the opportunity to make a second Los Angeles right here, if they would only do their part. The proposed contract was read and submitted to the meeting, together with plans of depot, maps, diagrams, etc., all of which go to show the willingness of the railroad company to locate those improvements here, if we will only assist them to do so. After discussing the feasibility of the proposition from all sides, a committee was appointed to thoroughly canvass the town and see what our citizens would do. Whether they would give their money toward the improvement of San Bernardino, or. whether they would allow Colton to beat us in the race. Of course there can be but very little, if any. opposition, for all will readily see the great benefit such a proposition will be to our town, if carried into effect. "A committee of three, consisting of John Andreson, R. W. Waterman and H. L. Drew, was appointed to prepare a guarantee of what each man is willing to do in the matter, to be circulated and signed by all who may feel disposed to aid in this proposed building up of the town. This committee are also to act as trustees to look after the money raised and put it to the use it is raised for.

"A committee of three was also appointed to solicit subscriptions. This committee was composed of W. A. Harris, M. Katz and W. G. Morse. The work of this committee is to be done at once, and a report made at a meeting to be held at the Farmer's Exchange Bank to- night, so get out yonr pencils, shut your eyes and write as many figures after your names as your consciences will allow.

"The proposition of the company was so well thought of by the citizens present at this meeting that something over $10,000 was raised immediately. The idea advanced at this meeting was to raise, if possible, the sum of S25.000, and to use as much of it as is necessary for the purchase of the eighteen acres of land, the balance, if any be left, to be returned, pro rata, to the subscribers.

"The railroad company now own about twenty acres of land in our town. They need about forty acres for their proposed improvements. The only question is, will the people take interest enough in the advancement of the town to give them the eighteen acres of land necessary for these improvements, or will they allow all this work to be done at Colton.

"The committees will report to the meeting to-night, and as there can be but one result, a grand ratification meeting will be held in the Court House on tomorrow evening by all of our citizens. Let the list be so full that there will be no possible chance of missing this grand opportunity.

"Acting upon the suggestion of the Times last evening, the citizens' committee have bonded the whole of block 17, of the five-acre survey, except two acres, giving them control of eighty-eight acres of land, which can be had at a cost of from $400 to $500 per acre. ' Out of this it is proposed to offer the railroad company a choice of forty acres, the balance to be sold to secure the signers of the guarantee fund. Surveyors are now engaged in running a line north from the Fabun place to the northwest corner of block 17, which will be entered with a curve, as the present grounds now are. This property lies between Fifth and Seventh streets, and there are a number of reasons why it is superior for railroad purposes, outside of its lessened cost. It is more level than the present location, and the cost of grading will be materially reduced, a big item to the railroad, as the present grounds will have to be cut down in some places as much as five or six feet. It can be got without trouble or litigation of any kind, and there will be no contest with the Lytle or any other heirs, as there cannot be even the shadow of a cloud upon the title. It is proposed to either abandon the present grounds or use them only for storage purposes, for keeping extra cars or unused machinery. So far as the citizens' committee is concerned, all the work lias been done, the whole of this property has been bonded, and the proposition laid before Air. Perris, who has tele- graphed it East and received instructions to complete the survey and report. If his report is favorable there is little doubt that the depot and machine shops will go on to block 17 instead of 16. While, of course, the property immediate ly around the present depot would depreciate from its removal, the new loca- tion will be much better for the town as a whole, because it will be centrally located instead of as at present in one end, and the benefits derived from it would be more equally distributed. There can be little doubt that Mr. Perris will recommend the new location and that it will be accepted. What then remains for the citizens is to ratify the action of their committee."

The "boom" years of 1886-7 saw a wide extension of railway "feeders" in Southern California. At one time there were ten different parties, all under the supervision of F. T. Perris. chief engineer of the California Southern, engaged in railroad construction in various parts of the country. The California Central road was organized, and the year 1887 saw completed the following lines of road, all of which were parts of the Santa Fe svstem:
California Southern, from National City to Barstow 210-1/2
San Bernardino and Los Angeles, including the San Gabriel valley 60-1/2
Riverside, Santa Ana and Los Angeles, from Citrus via Santa Ana to Los Angeles 77
San Bernardino and San Diego, from Santa Ana to Oceanside 48
San Bernardino Valley, from San Bernardino to Mentone 12
San Jacinto Valley, from Perris to San Jacinto 19
San Diego Central, from Oceanside to Escondido 23
San Diego and El Cajon Valley 16
Los Angeles and Santa Monica to Port Ballona 18 Total miles 484 miles total

In 1893 the "loop" around the San Bernardino valley was built, thus com- pleting the celebrated "kite-shaped" track, by which one may travel from Los Angeles, through the San Gabriel valley to San Bernardino and thence to Redlands, and, returning by the loop, cross the track at San Bernardino and thence to Los Angeles via the Santa Ana valley, or vice versa. In 1887, and again in 1892, the Temecula division of the California South- ern was washed out, and in the latter year this route was abandoned, a branch line being built to Fallbrook in the lower part of the. canon, and so con- structed that the flood water washes over, instead of under the bridges— an innovation which has worked successfully. In 1901, the Santa Fe system by the acquisition of the San Joaquin Valley road and the building of some trrck gained an en, ranee of its own into San Francisco, thus giving that city, for the first time, a competing line of road.


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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