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STAGES, RAILROADS of SANTA CLARA COUNTY

Under Mexican rule, the transportation of passengers was almost exclusively on horseback. Women and children would occasionally take passage for short distances in the rude carts of that time, but journeys generally, whether long or short, were performed in the saddle; as the foreigners came in, they adopted the same custom, for the reason that there was no other means of conveyance. When affairs became settled after the Mexican War, and the country began to be settled up with immigrants from the States, other methods of transportation for passengers and freight were looked for. Boats were secured to ply between San Francisco and Alviso, and connection with them was made from San Jose by such wagons as could be procured. The cost for passengers for this trip was thirty-five dollars.

In April, of 1850, Messrs. Ackley and Morrison put on a line of stages to run through to San Francisco, and in the same spring, John W. Whisman put on a line to run to San Jose. Trips were made triweekly by each line, thus giving a daily stage each way. The fare was thirty-two dollars, and the schedule time was nine hours. In September of that year, Hall & Crandall purchased Whisman's route. The roads became so bad in the winter that the stages were withdrawn, and travel to San Francisco went by way of Alviso.

Two steamboats, the Wm. Robinson and New Star, furnished the water transportation. This was a great improvement over the old mustang route, but was not yet satisfactory to the people of the pueblo. Early in January, 1851, a meeting was called for the purpose of taking steps towards building a railroad to San Francisco. The meeting was largely attended, and very enthusiastic. At this time the road to Santa Clara along the Alameda was impassable, and to reach that town from San Jose necessitated a circuit of about six miles, while passengers to San Francisco were compelled to work their passage for about half the distance. Under these circumstances it is not surprising that the meeting should unanimously declare in favor of a railroad. Resolutions to this effect were adopted, and books opened for subscriptions to the capital stock. Some subscriptions were made, and W. J. Lewis was appointed to make the survey and estimate of the cost of the road. The survey was completed in December, and the estimate presented as follows: For construction of the road, $1,385,726.17 ; for buildings and fixtures, $49,000; rolling stock, etc., $104,400; total to put the road into operation, $1,539,126.17. These figures seem to have had a very depressing effect on the railroad enthusiasm of the people, for we hear no more of the matter for several years.

In July of this year  the stage fare to San Francisco was reduced to ten dollars, and to Monterey, to twenty-five dollars. In March, 1852, Messrs. Reed and Kendall organized an express to run between San Jose and San Francisco by way of Alviso. On the eleventh of April, 1853, the boiler of the Jenny Lind, a steamer on the Alviso route, exploded with disastrous effect. She had left Alviso with one hundred and fifty passengers, among them many prominent citizens of San Jose. When about opposite what is now Redwood City, the explosion occurred, killing many and wounding others. Among those killed were J. D. Hoppe, Charles White, and Bernard Murphy. This accident spread a gloom over the community. A public meeting was called and resolutions expressing sympathy with the afflicted were adopted.

In October of this year the first telegraph line was built connecting San Jose with San Francisco. It was a great mystery to the native population, some of whom thought the Americans had all turned Catholics and were erecting innumerable crosses as a testimony of their faith. It was cause of great rejoicing among the people. The establishment of telegraphic communication revived the desire for a railroad, and much talk was indulged in. No effective steps were taken, however, except an ordinance passed by the common council, granting St. James Park for depot grounds. The cost of building the road and the small amount of freight in sight did not promise very favorably as an investment for capital, and the enterprise again slumbered for a number of years.

In 1856 an omnibus line was established between San Jose and Santa Clara by Crandall Brothers, and in 1857 a weekly express to Sonora was put on by Wm. H. Hoy.

The growth of business in San Jose and the development of the surrounding country brought the railroad question again to the front in 1859. There had been a large increase in wealth and population and this time the people determined that something should be accomplished. A meeting was held in February to discuss the question of building a short line of railroad to Alviso to connect with fast boats to Alviso. Estimates were presented showing that it would cost $10,000 per mile, or between $150,000 and $200,000 to put the line in running condition. Books were opened and subscriptions solicited, but before enough money could be secured to warrant the commencement of the work, another proposition was made that caused a suspension of the effort in this direction.

A company had been organized in San Francisco to build a railroad to San Jose by way of San Mateo and Redwood City. This company wanted Santa Clara County to take $200,000 worth of the stock of the enterprise. It was found impossible to raise this amount by individual subscription, and in 1861 an act was secured by the Legislature authorizing the county, through its Board of Supervisors, to subscribe for this amount of stock, provided that the people, at a regularly called election, should indorse the measure. An election was held with the following result: In favor of subscribing for the stock, 1,497 votes; against the proposition, 725 votes; majority for taking the stock, 722. No time was lost, and the Board of Supervisors on the twenty-fifth of May made the subscription and ordered bonds issued for the payment of the same. These bonds bore interest at the rate of seven per cent per annum, and were payable in fifteen years. The work of building the road commenced immediately, and on the sixteenth day of January, 1864, the road was completed and formally opened with a grand excursion to San Jose. There was great rejoicing when the first train arrived. Flags were hoisted and everybody took a holiday.

The county had a railroad, but it also had an indebtedness of $200,000, on which it was paying a large interest. The question was soon mooted as to whether it would not be policy to sell the railroad stock owned by the county and apply the proceeds toward extinguishing this debt. As the stock was paying no dividends, an affirmative conclusion was soon reached. The Legislature was appealed to, and in April, 1864, an act was passed authorizing the county to sell the stock owned by it in the "San Francisco & San Jose Railroad," and to apply the proceeds to the redemption of county bonds. In  November, 1864, B. G. Lathrop offered to buy the stock and pay $200,000 in currency. This would be equivalent to about $170,000 in gold. The proposal was accepted, but Lathrop neglected to make his offer good, and the transaction was canceled. In February, 1865, Messrs. C. B. Polhemus, Peter Donahue, and H. M. Newhall, offered to buy the stock for $200,- 000, either in currency or in the bonds of the county, which had been issued to pay for the stock when it was subscribed by the county. On March 4 an agreement was made with these parties as follows: the purchasers were to pay the sum of $200,000, either in currency or county bonds, as above stated, payment to be made in eighteen months from April 4, 1865; the purchasers in the meantime were to have the right to represent and vote the stock at any meeting of the stockholders, and after the expiration of eight months were to pay to the county treasurer all interest that might accrue on the county bonds above referred to. Having the default of Mr. Lathrop in mind, the Board of Supervisors exacted from the purchasers a bond for the fulfillment of their contact. Notwithstanding this bond, the purchasers neglected to comply with the contract until the Board lost patience, and in 1867 directed suit to be brought. This brought the purchasers to the front with propositions for a compromise, and the suit was discontinued pending these negotiations. This lasted for two years more, when, there being no prospect of an amicable settlement, suit was again instituted in 1869. In this interval Mr. Polhemus had disposed of his interest in the Railroad Company, and had been succeeded by Mr. Mayne. The purchasers then made another proposition, to the effect that they would pay for the stock $100,000 in money and would build a line of railroad from San Jose to Gilroy. This proposition was accepted, and its terms complied with. In 1869 the railroad was extended to Gilroy.

In 1863 the Western Pacific Railroad Company was constructing that portion of the transcontinental railroad between Sacramento and Oakland, and offered, if the county would subscribe $150,000 to its capital stock, to construct a branch from Niles to San Jose, thus placing this city on the through overland line. On the fourteenth of April, 1863, an act was passed authorizing the county to make this subscription, and the election held for this purpose resulted as follows:—
For subscribing to the stock, 1,011 votes; against, 479 votes; majority, 532 votes. With this authorization the Board subscribed for $150,000 of the stock, and directed the issue of seven per cent bonds payable in twenty years, in payment thereof. These bonds were issued as follows:
March 27, 1865, $45,000; August 19, 1865, $60,000; October 23, 1865, $45,000


 In September, 1869, this road was completed, but it never met the expectations of the people. It gave two routes to San Francisco instead of one, but as there was no competition between them, it had no effect in reducing the rates of fare or freight. The stock paid no dividends, but in the manipulation of the road it became necessary that it should be got out of the hands of the county. Accordingly, in 1871 a movement was made for its purchase. Under the act of 1864, the supervisors had authority to sell, but they thought best to submit the matter to a vote of the people before acting. Accordingly, a special election was held with the following result:
For selling the stock, 2,001 votes; against, 2,368 votes; majority against, 367.

Notwithstanding this result, the Board, at its session in October, 1871, resolved that it was for the best interests of the county that the stock should be sold, and appointed agents to negotiate the sale, the agents to receive a commission of ten per cent on the amount received for the sale. In February, 1872, a sale was consummated, David Colton being the purchaser, for $120,000. The claim of the agents was compromised for $9,000, leaving a net loss to the county of $39,000.
These two railroads are now part of the Northern Division of the Southern Pacific Company.

As the country to the north of San Jose began to develop fruit culture, especially strawberries, blackberries, etc., necessity was found for a more convenient and rapid means of transportation to San Francisco. The two railroads already constructed just skirted the border of this fruit district, and shippers were compelled to haul their fruit to San Jose, Santa Clara, or Milpitas to get it on the cars; arrived in San Francisco, it had to be hauled on trucks for a long distance from depot to market, and this, besides the delay, bruised and injured the fruit, to the great loss of the producer. In addition to these inconveniences, the railroad company could not see the necessity of adopting a time schedule to accommodate this traffic. This caused the question of a narrow-gauge railroad to connect with fast boats at Alviso to be revived. In 1870 a meeting was held and subscription books opened. Strenuous efforts were made to get the stock taken. Chief among the promoters of the scheme were John G. Bray, then president of the Bank of San Jose, S. A. Bishop, and Cary Peebels. Pending the floating of the stock, a fast boat was put on the line between Alviso and San Francisco, and the fruit-growers hauled to the Alviso wharf instead of shipping by rail. The narrow-gauge proposition made but little progress for several years, when a company was formed called the "Santa Clara Valley Railroad Company," but it accomplished nothing except to establish an office in San Jose and procure a few conditional rights of way. Finally, in 1876, a new company was formed, under the name of the "South Pacific Coast Railroad Company," with A. E. Davis as its president. This company asked no favors. It had money to buy everything it needed, including the right of way. It built the road, and in April, 1878, the first train came into San Jose, and in May the road was opened for business. They immediately proceeded to extend the line south to Santa Cruz, and completed it after much time and labor spent in tunneling the mountains. The road did a prosperous business from the first. In 1887 it sold out to a syndicate of stockholders of the Southern Pacific, and changed the name to the "South Pacific Coast Railway." In 1886 a branch was constructed to the Almaden mines, leaving the main line at Campbell. In the same year the Southern Pacific built a line to the same point, connecting with the trunk line at Hillsdale.

In 1885 a railroad was projected from Murphy's, on the Southern Pacific Road, near Mountain View, to Saratoga. Several miles of this road were constructed, but, there not being money enough under control of the projectors, the enterprise was abandoned.

Pen Pictures From The Garden of the World or Santa Clara County, California, Illustrated. - Edited by H. S. Foote.- Chicago:  The Lewis Publishing Company, 1888.
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