Southern Pacific Railroad
Southern Pacific Railroad, Big Four, Gilded Age, American West

Southern Pacific Railroad

    The original charter called for the Southern Pacific Railroad to go south from San Francisco through southern California through Arizona and New Mexico to El Paso, Texas but when the Central Pacific Railroad Big Four acquired it in 1868, the Southern Pacific Railroad would not end until it reached New Orleans

     Southern Pacific Railroad assistant chief engineer was William Hood who devised the ingenious method of eighteen tunnels in twenty eight miles of track climbing down from the Tehachapi Mountains to the San Joaquin Valley below.    One of the most difficult was named the Great Tehachapi Loop.   The switchback literally had the Southern Pacific Railroad train curved back on itself as it gained altitude

    Southern Pacific Railroad tracks in March of 1880 reached Tucson and a celebration with a Golden spike was held. Charles Crocker of the Big Four did the honors

    When a town would not grant privileges to the Southern Pacific Railroad, they simply built another town.    This very scene happened when San Bernardino was left out and the Southern Pacific Railroad went through Colton, California.   Again it occurred on May 11, 1880 when the Southern Pacific Railroad agents' came to evict the farmer from land that the government had originally granted to the Southern Pacific Railroad and violence ensued at Mussel Slough   

    The farmers had been allowed to settle on the isolated land, cultivating it from a desert into a land of plenty with an irrigation system.    In 1878, the Southern Pacific Railroad took title to the land and appraised the land at twenty five to thirty five dollars an acre instead of the two dollars and fifty cents originally stated

    The farmers lost every court case.    By the end eight farmers died, five sentenced to eight months in jail and two hundred families were evicted from their farms

     As the railroads grew in power so did their monopoly on rates. The Southern Pacific's empire held a monopoly over freight in and out of the San Francisco and Oakland Bay area.   In 1894, John Davie challenged the empire when he resisted building his Oakland warehouse on the Southern Pacific Railroad land

    With a group of anti-railroad citizens supporting him they resisted the Southern Pacific Railroad men and police attacks. This was only the beginning! Davie began to run a nickel ferry in competition with the Southern Pacific Railroad 's fifteen cents slow ferries. Blocking his passage, Davie sank one of the Southern Pacific Railroad fleet.  In retaliation, the Southern Pacific Railroad refused to open a drawbridge

    Davie, in turn, tied onto a supporting beam and backed up, promptly putting the bridge in the bay. Although Davie was arrested, the grand jury refused to indict him.  Public hostility to the Southern Pacific Railroad Monopoly was growing

    March 1881, the Southern Pacific Railroad joined the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railroad at Deming in New Mexico territory to become the second transcontinental railroad.   In December of that same year the Southern Pacific Railroad joined up with the Texas and Pacific near Sierra Blanca, Texas. The Southern Pacific Railroad Sunset Route was completed in February 1883 finally reaching New Orleans

   Southern Pacific Railroad took over the old Galveston, Harrisburg and San Antonio railway.   The Southern Pacific Railroad  followed most of the old route of the Mormon Battalion from southern California to Tucson

    Through numerous construction companies organized in 1884 and leased to the Southern Pacific Railroad, Collis Huntington, one of the Big Four of the Central Pacific Railroad, was able to protect his stock and build a fortune.    In 1885, the Central Pacific Railroad merged with the Southern Pacific Railroad which dominated rail traffic in California

    In 1887, the Southern Pacific Railroad became embattled in a price war with the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe with fares dropping from $125 to as low as a $1 from the Midwest to southern California.   This came about because of land speculation along the route of the Southern Pacific Railroad

    In 1907, Congress through Roosevelt's constant urging, reimbursed the Southern Pacific Railroad over three million for its constant fighting of the flooding Colorado River in the Imperial Valley

    Before he died in 1909 Edward Harriman considered by most as a splendid railroad strategist and administrator held controlling shares in the Southern Pacific Railroad

     The political hold that the Southern Pacific Railroad held during the Gilded Age over California government came to a close with the election of Hiram Johnson as governor in November, 1910

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