Chapter 10

STOCKTON AND BECKWITH PASS RAILWAY COMPANY

Since getting a franchise through Oakland to the waterfront, the San Francisco Terminal Railway and Ferry Company had begun to branch out rapidly. With rights of way already secured between Tesla and Oakland, the company was now taking steps to carry its line north and east across the Sierra Nevada. When the gap between Tesla and Oakland was closed there would be a continuous line from Oakland to Stockton.

The gentlemen promoting the project were now incorporating another company which was to build north from Stockton through Sacramento and Oroville to Beckwith Pass. While about twenty-five deeds were being recorded in Alameda County on December 2, 1902, giving the railroad a right of way from the Oakland City line at Fruitvale to its waterfront property at Union Street, the articles of incorporation of this new railroad were being filed with the Secretary of State in Sacramento.

The new corporation that was formed in Sacramento was to be known as the Stockton and Beckwith Pass Railway Company and specifically announced its intention to build over a route starting from Stockton and going to Sacramento, through Oroville, along the North Fork of the Feather River, along Spanish Creek, along Spring Garden Creek, along the Middle Fork of the Feather River, to Delaney Canyon, across Sierra Valley and through the Beckwith Pass to Purdy. The incorporators were given as Walter J. Bartnett, John Treadwell, Tirey L, Ford, H. F. Fortman, J. Dalzell Brown, A. C. Kaines and F. M. West.

Prior to the incorporation of this new road Keddie had dispatched some stooge “survey parties” into the Feather River Canyon and as they haphazardly staked out each ten miles of “line,” he then made a copy of the corresponding map Kennedy had filed in 1892 and by registering these in the county seats won an incontestable five-year franchise for the new road.

Those incorporating this new road were practically the same incorporators of the San Francisco Terminal Railroad and Ferry Company. Of the $300,000 that had been subscribed, Walter J. Bartnett had put up $294,000. Mr. Bartnett was also the president of the San Francisco Terminal Railroad and Ferry Company that had just worked its way through Oakland. John Treadwell was the owner of the Tesla coal mines and the Alameda & San Joaquin Railroad from Stockton to Tesla. The San Francisco Terminal Railroad and Ferry Company had most of its water front, rights of way and franchises from Oakland to Tesla, the Alameda & San Joaquin was part of the system and already in operation to Stockton, and now the Stockton and Beckwith Pass Railroad completes the line from San Francisco to the State line.

These railroads would now make three complete links in a system crossing the state. It was not the Santa Fe system that was behind this line, but generally believed that the Gould’s were interested and that the line would form a connection with some of the Gould lines in the Rocky Mountain region.

Although franchises were in hand for the route a stumbling block was encountered by the Stockton and Beckwith Pass Railway Company when it was found that a right of way for the proposed route would not be obtainable without a long fight in the courts. The coveted route up the North Fork of the Feather River was covered with placer mining locations of the North California Mining Company, which had a railroad bed laid out up the proposed route, had purchased terminal lands at Oroville, and was in a position, apparently, to immediately commence the building of a railroad.

It was thought by many that the two companies were in reality but one, but a few minutes before the time for the closing of the office of the Butte County Clerk on December 6, 1902 a complaint was filed in which the Stockton and Beckwith Pass Railway Company was plaintiff and the North California Mining Company and numerous locators, under whose names the placer mining locations stood were the defendants.

The plaintiff asked that a strip of land 149 feet wide be condemned for their use through the various locations of the defendants from the dividing line between the counties of Butte and Plumas down to a point near the Big Bend tunnel, which was about midway between the county line and Oroville.

A portion of this route lay in Plumas County and it was thought that the complaint filed was but the forerunner of other complaints which would cover a right of way both below and above the land mentioned in this complaint. The complaint was sworn to by T. Otway Sadler, secretary of the Stockton and Beckwith Pass Railway Company, who had been in Oroville since the 4th of December.

The route to be traversed by the company in Alameda County was accurately traced in blue print maps which were filed on December 17, 1902. Considerable interest was attached to the matter because the road was supposedly one of the links of the transcontinental line that the Gould’s were building.

According to the maps filed the road would enter the northeastern part of Oakland. The points on the road after leaving Stockton were New Hope, Sacramento, Marysville, Oroville and Beckwith Pass. The highest elevation was at Beckwith Pass, 5,195 feet. From the pass the road would extend to the State line and would probably run from there to Salt Lake.

The route to San Francisco from Oakland would be by the Alameda and San Joaquin road to Tesla and from Tesla to Oakland by the San Francisco Terminal Railway and Ferry Company which was then being constructed. In promoting this transcontinental line the Gould’s or whoever was behind the scheme, were working to secure as straight a route from point to point as possible. This was indicated by the directness with which the line extended from Oakland to the Sacramento county line and then to the Beckwith Pass, which was held by expert engineers to be a most acceptable means of crossing the Sierras.

According to the carefully drawn map filed with the Sacramento County Clerk's office, the road would enter Sacramento County on the south about a half mile below the junction of the Cosumnes and the Mokelumne rivers and would hold a course almost directly north until Sacramento City was reached at a point near Twenty-Third and Y streets. From Twenty-Third and Y it was evidently the intention to follow either Twenty-third or Twenty-fourth streets through to the north levee and the American River would be crossed in the vicinity of the Twelfth Street Bridge. From that point nearly a straight due northern course would be held until the Sacramento and Sutter county line was reached.

The following was of interest at the time because of its relation to the Gould system. Thomas R. Worth, a merchant from Salt Lake City had this to say: "For some time past," he said, "engineers have been busy surveying out from Salt Lake, and people have been wondering what was up. It now develops the survey was made for a Short Line between Salt Lake City and San Francisco. The route is 150 mile’s shorter than the Southern Pacific, and the line can be built at a low cost, less than $2,000 per mile. It is said the new line will connect with the San Francisco Terminal and Ferry Company which has an outlet at Oakland. This would give a direct entrance to San Francisco. The line at Salt Lake is supposed to connect with the Denver and Rio Grande, and the building of the new road may be the result of the recent railroad war.”

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