Chapter 5

THE SAN FRANCISCO & GREAT SALT LAKE RAILROAD

Page 6

Daniel Moyer, who was prominently identified with the railroad scheme as its promoter, treasurer and member of the board of directors, denied the statements that the company had collapsed or was about to do so. He said there was “no truth whatever in the rumor published."

Kennedy completed his survey late in 1892 which included a route from Reno crossing the Sierra summit at Beckwourth Pass, thence descending the upper reaches of the Middle Fork of the Feather River and cutting over to the North Fork of the Feather River at Spring Garden, as Keddie had suggested reaching the Sacramento Valley at Oroville. It was a good line, with a ruling grade of 1.33%. December found Kennedy and his assistants engaged in endeavoring to prepare complete profile maps of the route of the proposed new road through California and Nevada. This was the only work now being done in connection with the projected enterprise, as all the surveying parties formerly out along the line had been withdrawn in October.

It was the intention of Mr. Kennedy to complete the profile maps, as they were needed in order that something like a correct calculation could be made as to the cost of building the road, should it be decided to go on with the project.

Nothing else was now being done in connection with the scheme by those who had identified with it, nor would any further move be made until the completion of the work upon which Engineer Kennedy was now engaged. The gentlemen who had been doing what they could to push the enterprise forward had now concluded to rest on their oars until they found out just what the building of the road would cost.

Kennedy filed his maps (which were in ten mile sections) in the various county court houses, and they established under the existing laws, a five-year option on the route in the name of the San Francisco and Great Salt Lake Railroad Company.

Dan De Quille, in his weekly letter on December 18, 1892 to the Salt Lake Tribune, had the following to say about the proposed competing road: “Now comes from San Francisco a report that work is to commence on the road from that place to Salt Lake City, through Nevada, with mention of the route to be followed as far as Reno. What truth there may be in this statement it is hard to say. There are in San Francisco so many diligent and capable liars that one can believe no story from them in regard to any matter in which money or any large interest is at stake. At the same time that the dispatch was sent out, saying that the work of construction was to begin at once the Report, in an article in regard to Mr. Mackev's telegraph enterprises in the East, says: "It is to be hoped that some day when Mr. Mackey has these enterprises sufficiently advanced he will give his attention to the building of a competing road to the coast."

The people of San Francisco would like to see Mr. Mackey or some other man of millions build a competing road, but will themselves do nothing toward pushing through such an enterprise. That is why their city is now about in condition to be ''fenced in." The business men will do nothing to free themselves from the clutches of the Southern Pacific so long as the high freights come out of the masses—the consumer. Rather than venture a dollar they will go on raking in every cent that can be got out of the consumer, quite satisfied with the small business they are doing so long as they are on the safe side. They have not sufficient enterprise to pitch in with their money and all their energies and build up a prosperous community and through increase of business make tens of thousands where they are now making hundreds. In their narrow way they hang on to every cent they can get hold of, content with the dimes they can get out of a poor community where by risking some of their accumulated wealth and doing some good, energetic work they might have surrounding them a rich community from which they could more readily gather dollars than they now can squeeze dimes.

When the business men and men of capital in a town set to work at milking the people of the place instead of striving to make it prosperous and giving all in the community constant paying employment, that town will soon be ready to be fenced in. Salt Lake City is not the place for business men that she would be were her laboring masses more fully employed. The masses have not money with which to build needed railroads, but they are all able to pitch in the work, and the road would bring them the employment they require when they would at once become valuable customers to business houses - would spend dollars where they now do not spend dimes. If a business man expects to build up a big town he must do all in his power to make that town prosperous, otherwise what he gains will only be what the necessities of an impoverished people oblige them to give up.”

With their survey on file, several of the company officials then went east to try to induce New York Financiers to underwrite the cost of construction (estimated at $35 million). But everywhere the San Francisco & Great Salt Lake promoters called, they found Collis P. Huntington had been before them. Why spend $35 million to compete with him, the wily old man had asked each likely angel, he’d be glad to let them have the Central Pacific, monopoly and all, for a good deal less and be glad to get it off his hands. There has been quite some speculation on the point of whether or not Huntington actually did intend to sell the Central Pacific; however, the offer did achieve its purpose of killing the financiers’ interest in the competitor’s survey and no one called his bluff.

In January 1893 Senator McGowan in the Senate and Shanahan in the Assembly introduced three bills designed to modify the present incorporation laws in the interest of competing railroads. One bill provided that a railroad may incorporate upon a subscription of $1000 per mile within the State, instead of the same sum for its entire route. A second bill would permit the issuance of $100 bonds instead of $500 as it was at the present time, which would enable small capitalists to take them up. And a third bill would permit the consolidation of railroads running out of the State with railroads incorporated under the laws of California. The bills were referred to the Judiciary Committee.

The latter bill was discussed at length by the committee and Attorney Wheeler of a San Francisco law firm. Wheeler said the bill was in the interest of the San Francisco and Great Salt Lake Railroad. It was suggested, however, that the bill did not provide for railroads organized outside and doing business within the State. An amendment was agreed upon and would be offered on the floor of the House covering such cases.

Opposition to these bills came from the Merchants Traffic Association. The Traffic Association claimed that such a law would allow the Southern Pacific Company, which it was fighting, to consolidate its local line with those it had in Arizona and elsewhere, thus taking its local lines out of the State's control. For all intents and purposes this opposition to the bill marked the end of the San Francisco & Great Salt Lake Railroad as the interested capitalists abandoned the project. The surveys were allowed to lapse, although the franchise was kept alive until 1905.

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