Chapter 7

THE SAN FRANCISCO TERMINAL RAILROAD AND FERRY COMPANY

Page 2

George W. Reed of Reed & Nusbaumer on September 15, 1902 presented to the Oakland City Council the application of the San Francisco Terminal Railway and Ferry Company for a franchise to operate a steam road within the city limits.

Under suspension of the rules, October 6, 1902 was set as the date for a hearing. Southern Pacific now realized that a formidable opponent was in the field, and would oppose the granting of the franchise with all sorts of objections.

The application set forth that the road would enter Oakland at East Twelfth Street and Twenty-fifth Avenue and run along Twelfth Street to Twentieth Avenue, thence dropping down a block and running parallel to the tracks of the Southern Pacific Company across East Oakland and the north arm of the estuary, striking Third Street in Oakland proper and following that street until Union Street was reached. From Union Street the proposed road would run over private property to the water front. The Terminal Company had already purchased 130 acres at this point, and it was explained they would establish shops and yards at that point, as well as operate its ferry from there.

It was signed by more than two-thirds of the property-owners along the proposed route, and opposed by a protest signed by a very small minority. W. J. Bartnett and T. Ordway Sadlair, president and secretary of the company, signed the application in behalf of the corporation.

While the new company only agreed to construct a line from the Oakland water front to connect with the San Francisco and San Joaquin Railroad, which ran from Stockton to the Tesla Coal Mines, it was an open secret that it was to be the forerunner of another transcontinental railway system—either the Rock Island or the Gould system. Indications pointed to the latter, though it was surmised that it could be the Clark-Kerens-Moffatt syndicate that was building a road, from Salt Lake to Los Angeles and from Denver to Salt Lake.

The new corporation proposed to build a depot, shops, ferry slips and coal bunkers at the foot of Union Street, closer to the business center of Oakland than any other railway terminal. This would bring the bulk of the coal mined at Tesla to Oakland for distribution, and also bring grain from the San Joaquin Valley for shipment, and would incidentally promote the milling industry in Oakland.

As the new line would traverse a district contiguous to the water front that was already given over to factories, warehouses, workshops and wharves, it would benefit instead of injuring property. Besides, the district was already traversed by two steam lines, consequently objections on that score would be without merit. Every man of discernment in the city knew that the new road would enhance the value of every foot of property on the harbor front, and vastly increase the shipping business at the port. As the western tide water terminus of a great transcontinental system, it would create a entry point at the foot of Union street that would contribute immensely to the growth of the city.

These facts being recognized, the business community was practically a unit in favor of granting the franchise. Public sentiment favored giving the new company the same liberal terms that were granted the Santa Fe Company, and the general desire was that there should be no unnecessary delay in according the permission to enter, especially as the agents of the corporation expressed an anxiety to begin work at the earliest possible moment. The owners of wharf property on the harbor were cognizant to the fact that this new railroad meant a great deal to them and to the prosperity of Oakland, as it afforded a new argument in favor of expediting the harbor improvement.

There was a small complication to be adjusted relative to the manner in which the new line was to cross the Southern Pacific tracks near Lake Merritt, but that was left to be arranged to the satisfaction of both corporations. A. A. Moore, representing the Southern Pacific, was present at the Council meeting, but did not address the Council. His only object was to see that the franchise provided the crossing requirements his company desired.

As there appeared no serious or well grounded opposition to the new project, the franchise would probably be granted at an early date.

Attorney George W. Reed, who represented the company, spoke briefly upon the advantages of the road. He said: The corporation has behind it the wealthy men of California, who are competent to put such an undertaking through. The meaning of the road is that Oakland will in reality have a competing ferry system. The benefits are innumerable. Oakland has long needed a competing system and I believe it would be a part of wisdom on the part of the Council to pass, under a suspension of the rules, a resolution fixing the time of hearing.

Courtney — I am opposed to doing any such thing. Franchises for fifty years are being given away by the City Council of late pretty frequently. I believe we should proceed cautiously and not do anything we will be sorry for.

Cuvellier — I would like to know Mr. Reed, that in passing this notice, if we are committing ourselves in any way?

Attorney Reed — No, not in the slightest.

Schaffer — Those people have spent a lot of time in buying land and in obtaining signatures. I believe they will make good every promise made.

The resolution setting the petition for hearing on October 6 was then passed by the following vote:
Ayes — Bishop, Boyer, Cadman, Cuvellier, Dornin, Ruch, Wallace, Fitzgerald, Schaffer — 9.
Nays — Courtney, Wixson — 2.

Protests against granting the franchise were received from L. Bercovich, 752 Webster street; A. Bercovich, 776 Harrison street: Katie F. Courtney, 755 Jackson street; Harry Bercovich, 37 1/2 Fourth street, P. M. Brien, 219 Sixth street, M. Lindenbaum, 408 Fifth street.

At that October 6, 1902 City Council meeting the Southern Pacific Company, through its attorney, A. A. Moore, requested that it be heard with relation to the proposed ordinance granting a franchise to the San Francisco Terminal Railway and Ferry Company to run a steam road through the city. Attorney Moore said his company did not appear as protesting against the entrance of a competing road into the city, but he suggested that there were points touching right of way, crossing and approaches affecting his company’s tracks that he desired to present before the Council.

After discussion the franchise ordinance was referred to the Ordinance and Judiciary Committee for hearing on October 9. Attorneys George W. Reed and Emil Nusbaumer, representing the new railroad company, agreed to that time in order that Division Superintendent Palmer of the Southern Pacific Company might present that corporation's points. The only protesting property owner who appeared in person to object to the ordinance was C. H. King, whose holdings at Third street and Broadway were affected, he said.

When this application was made for the franchises in Oakland the Southern Pacific realized that a formidable opponent was in the field. Division Superintendent W. S. Palmer and Attorney A. A. Moore would appear at every committee and Council meeting and interposed many objections.

On October 9 the Council Committee on Ordinances and Judiciary met at which all the members save Chairman Cadman were present, namely Fitzgerald, Wixson, Bishop and Courtney. Mr. Fitzgerald occupied the chair.

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