Through Passenger Service Begins
EASTBOUND August 17-19, 1910 Oakland to Salt Lake City
Publicizing the start of regularly scheduled passenger service on August 16, 1910, E. L. Lomax said "We want the public to know what kind of a railroad we have. We are giving the press the first peep. They will let the public know."
That first Western Pacific through passenger train special pulled out of the WP’s Oakland Mole at 9 pm on the evening of August 17, 1910. Its passengers comprised representatives of the newspapers of San Francisco and other California cities and passenger officials of the road. The list of passengers included: E. L. Lomax, G. F. Herr, H. M. Adams, W. J. Shotwell, J. W. Mulhern, L. Spellman, Clyde Opelt, Dr. C. B. Pinkham, J. H. Chambers, C. F. Craig, and W. H. Woodward of the Western Pacific; Charles A. Cooke and S. W. Dunning, Fairmont hotel; James Woods, St. Francis hotel; James K. Steele, Palace hotel; E. S. Simpson and Edgar Reinhard, the San Francisco Call; George H. Pippy, Carl Hoffman, the San Francisco Bulletin; W. S. Brown, San Francisco Examiner; W. A. Lawson, Sacramento Bee; C. A. Horn, San Francisco Chronicle; J. B. Baker, Oakland Tribune; J. F. Carrere, Sacramento Union; John F. Galvin, Oroville Mercury; John O'Brien, Marysville Democrat; F. Conningham, Marysville Appeal; George Mansfield, Oroville Register; T. E. Healy, San Francisco Post; E. H. Carpenter, Sacramento Star; Fred P. Johnson, United Press; Charles Lincoln, manager of the Pullman company, and John V. O'Brien of the Western Union telegraph company. The train would go as far as Salt Lake City as a special, then would become the first scheduled regular westbound passenger train at Salt Lake City when it started back towards Oakland.
Elaborate preparations were already being made by all the cities along the line of the Western Pacific to welcome this first train carrying passengers.
The trip to Salt Lake City was to be made in record time, although the special had no hard and fast schedule. Stop anywhere to please anybody was the order of the eastward journey. Photographers were endlessly busy snapping photographs of everything and everybody. It was for the guests a 2,000 mile picnic, perfectly planned and carried out.
A few stops would be made en-route, but only to take on newspaper correspondents, with one notable exception. The equipment of the train included a buffet car, library car, two standard sleepers, a diner, an observation compartment car and a baggage car. Other cars would be added at Salt Lake City in order to accommodate correspondents of eastern papers press associations. A force of stenographers and clerks would be assisting the representatives of the press on the trip. E. L. Lomax, passenger traffic manager of the Western Pacific, had charge of the party, and arranged for entertainment all along the line.
One of the most significant and touching events of the eastbound trip on August 18th was the celebration at Quincy in Plumas County. For 50 years the pretty little town had been kept back because of a lack of transportation facilities. The Press special was met at Hartwell by a reception committee of Quincy comprising H. C. Flournoy, Dr. A. Stewart, E. Huskinson, B. Schneider. H. Mullor and A. Hall, and escorted over the road of the Quincy and Western Railway to the little town.
Only half an hour was allowed at Quincy, and as soon as the newspapermen and railroad officials arrived they assembled in front of the courthouse and listened to the address of Arthur W. Keddie, whose life work had been for a railroad through the Feather River Canyon. Keddie by then had gray hair and long gray beard. He said:
"It gives me great pleasure to welcome you to Quincy upon this occasion. This is a red letter day for Plumas County. We have been isolated, you might say, from the outside world for want of means of transportation, but we are at last with the balance of the world, and we feel that Quincy and Plumas county with the building of the Western Pacific and the addition of our little Quincy and Western railroad have been placed on the map, and we are there to stay. The building of the Western Pacific Railway means much to Plumas County. It makes it possible for us to develop our many gold and copper mines. It makes available the timber in our forests for the markets of the world. It puts us in a position to advertise our pleasant and delightful summer resorts, and Plumas County will undoubtedly become a Mecca for the sportsmen. He will have to seek no farther than Plumas County and its sparking streams and mountain lakes, where trout abound. We are a little egotistical here in Quincy. We are proud of our little town and we are proud of our citizens. We believe in the name given to our little town years ago by a representative of the press, 'the gem of the Sierras.' It is well deserved, and now that we are in better touch with the outside world, we will endeavor to deserve more than ever that title. We wish you could stay with us a little while and view the scenic beauty of this valley. I assure you that you will always receive a hearty welcome at any time you may favor us with a visit. I and the citizens of Quincy wish you a safe and successful journey to Salt Lake City and back to San Francisco.”
H. C. Flournoy, chairman of the reception committee of Quincy, then called upon E. L. Lomax, traffic manager of the Western Pacific, for a few remarks. Lomax said:
"I cannot say how much the officers of the Western Pacific appreciate the cordial reception that you have tendered them here today and the sentiments expressed by Mr. Keddie. All l want to say is this, that I most heartily appreciate and that we feel as you do, a common interest, and as Quincy grows so will the Western Pacific railway We hope to make for you and your town here all that you desire. On the part of the Western Pacific, it is our earnest desire to do for you everything that will tend to your growth and to further your business interests and connections as the years go by and to help to make this town as you help to make the road. You understand, of course, that the road is a new proposition and it is now just being opened up but you are on a great transcontinental line over which we expect to take the people and commerce of foreign nations as well as our own country, therefore Quincy is no longer off the highway and it is the desire of us all that Quincy will continue to grow.”
Later that evening traveling through Nevada, luxuriously, almost lazily, the Western Pacific Press Special rolled steadily through a new and wonderful land on its way to Salt Lake. Those of the half hundred railway and newspapermen who were seeing the line for the first time needed to be told and retold that it was a route just finished. Its smoothness and solidity are what might be expected of a railway long established and running through a populous and productive country.
Long tangents and low gradients are not terms that appeal particularly to the lay traveler, but they were translated by the Western Pacific into speed and comfort. Perhaps the best descriptive phrase minted in the trips praise and comments called the Western Pacific “the easiest way".
From daylight at the gates of the beautiful canyon of the Feather River to a languorous evening in the wide waste of Nevada it had been a day of delight for the sight seers. All the forenoon they climbed and curved with the storied stream that was the Patulous of a half century ago, saw the miles of gravel heaps by bend and bar that told the tale of those old marvelous placer mining days when men of all lands rocked and washed for the yellow treasure, breathed the fragrance of the pines that march along the mountains, then the Beckwourth Pass that seems like anything but a gap in the Sierra barrier and then the seas of sage and the painted Nevada hills: the next day, Salt Lake and the beginning of the pleasant business of formally opening the new line of traffic, the significant business of swinging wide another gateway to the Pacific.
The Western Pacific way of doing things was a handsome way. The special train was equipped and officered and served to the last notch of railroad efficiency. One could very well believe the newcomers when they promised that they would make their route as attractive as a railroad can be. On this pioneer train it was all Lomax. The practiced hand was at work moving things just as surely as if its owner had not at the same time to play the host to a company of 50. The secretaries and stenographers were all quietly busy taking and dispatching orders, sheaves of telegrams fluttered from the passenger traffic manager's drawing room office to every station, but this was not real railroading as yet.
The passenger special arrived at Salt Lake City shortly after 1 pm in the afternoon on August 19. A yell had been adopted by the correspondents on the train. E. L. Lomax having been voted the most popular man on the train, and the yell was for the purpose of boosting him. It was practiced at a small station near the Nevada-Utah State line and several of the citizens thought that a wild man had secured admission to the palatial special. When the scribes descended from the train they formed a circle and yelled at the top of their lungs:
Wow! Wow! Lomax. We! We!
Western Pacific! Panama fair!
Nearly every member of the Press Club of Salt Lake City was gathered at the new union depot to welcome the party. Invitations had been received while the special train was still in Nevada to a luncheon at the Commercial club, an organ recital at the tabernacle, and a trip up Emigration canyon, the historic way by which the Mormon pioneers came over the Wasatch range to this fair land. It was too late for the luncheon, but through the efforts of the Salt Lake press representatives, a special organ recital was given shortly after two pm.
Following the recital in the tabernacle a special car was taken through the principal business streets and the residence section, of the city. Then a special car was ready to take the party up Emigration canyon. Kenneth C. Kerr, railroad editor of the Salt Lake Tribune and president of the Press Club, acted as escort and the scribes and the railroad officials were taken to an altitude of more than 8,000 feet through one of the most beautiful canyons in the west. It was through this canyon that the first Missouri party passed on its way west and settled in the great valley of the Salt Lake.
Salt Lake City’s new Union Depot which was nearly complete on this day would be thrown open to the traveling public on August 22. It was pronounced by the visiting newspapermen to be one of the handsomest buildings of its class in the west. The new station, which would be used jointly by the Western Pacific and the Denver and Rio Grande and which had cost $750,000 to build, ranks architecturally and from a working standpoint with any of the large union stations constructed throughout the United States at that time. The interior of the waiting room was treated in an adaptation of a classic style of architecture similar to the exterior, the color scheme being brown, red and gray for the walls with a deep brown, for the ceiling. The building stood south of Third street and occupied a space 1,452 feet in length by 330 feet in width.
WESTBOUND August 20-22, 1910 Salt Lake City to Oakland
Besides the warm summer sun flinging early arrows down over the Wasatch nobody much got up to witness the Western Pacific begin its regular cross continent passenger service on the morning of the 20th.
If Passenger Traffic Manager Lomax had a hobby it ran against what he called loafing around stations. He now had a schedule to try and adhere to, and although the Special had 1,000 miles of clear track ahead of it, it found its feet on the dot of 7 am no matter who might have yielded to the allurements of pleasure loving Salt Lake and so missed connections with the schedule. Indeed most of the party were still buried deep in the berth and stateroom comforts of the special when it rolled away from the new Salt Lake city depot, from which overnight the last trace of the builders had been removed.