Chapter 11


The San Francisco Terminal Railway & Ferry Company, which had recently been granted a franchise through Oakland, along Third Street to the harbor front at the foot of Union Street, was preparing to begin the work of construction. The first move was to connect Oakland with Stockton by completing the gap between Oakland and Tesla. The rights of way and terminal facilities had all been acquired, at a cost of nearly $1,000,000.

The plans and purposes of the company had received considerable prominence during the previous several months. The company planned to connect San Francisco with the San Joaquin and Santa Clara valleys. Those plans it had been explained, were part of the greater plans of the Stockton and Beckwith Pass Railway Company, which was being promoted by the same gentlemen and which had been incorporated for the purpose of building a road from Stockton to the California-Nevada State line by way of Sacramento, Oroville and the Beckwith pass.

When application was made for franchises in Oakland the Southern Pacific realized that a formidable opponent was in the field, and opposed it for weeks with all sorts of objections. Division Superintendent W. S. Palmer and Attorney A. A. Moore had appeared at every committee and council meeting and interposed many objections. Before the City Council, Mr. Bartnett, president of the company, asserted positively on more than one occasion that his road was intended to be a connecting link in a transcontinental system, though he declined to state which one for obvious business reasons. The general impression, however, was that the Gould system was back of the project. In the meantime it was evident that the San Francisco Terminal Railway and Ferry Company was about to commence operations in real earnest.

How formidable of an opponent the Southern Pacific faced came more into focus when the existence of the Sacramento and Oakland Railway Company became public on February 5, 1903 when it began nine condemnation suits against various owners in Alameda County for property for rights of way through the Sobrante and San Antonio grants, along the San Leandro Creek and Moraga Valley along a proposed route from Oakland to Sacramento. It was through the filing of these suits the existence of articles of incorporation of the new venture became public.

An air of mystery surrounded the corporate existence of this new company and the intentions of the men behind it were being carefully veiled, even to the extent of trying to prevail upon the County Clerk's office to keep secret various papers which of necessity had to be filed in Alameda County.

Articles of incorporation had been filed secretly on February 3 with the principal place of business of the company named as Oakland. The capital stock of the new company was placed at $5,000,000, of which $175,000 was subscribed. Those who were purported to have subscribed for stock in the new railroad company were E. J. Hicks, $171,000; A. J. Brown, $1000; H. A. Keeler, $1000; Guy C Alden, $1000; B. P. Miller, $1000. A. G. Brown was the acting president of the concern. He was the law partner of Attorney Miller, who was the acting secretary.

There was much speculation as to the identity of the promoters behind the scheme, and in the opinion of those well informed in railroad matters, the only logical sponsor for the new road was the Santa Fe. The Harriman interests were already well taken care of with the Southern Pacific lines. Gould and his associates obtained a transcontinental terminus when the franchise for the Third Street line was granted. The Santa Fe was the only remaining railroad of magnitude that did not have access to the territory which would be tapped by the proposed line.

This new railroad was to run through five counties— Alameda, Contra Costa, Solano, Yolo and Sacramento and it was to be 100 miles long, with sixty-five miles of branches. The route through Alameda County was described generally as coming through the Moraga Valley, across the San Leandro Creek, through a proposed tunnel, along by Mills College, through Fruitvale to the city limits of Oakland near the tidal canal. If it was the Santa Fe, it already had access to San Joaquin County.

According to the plans outlined in the papers filed the road would have three branches which were to reach tidewater. A branch road would be run to Alameda. This spur was to be ten miles in length. Another spur would run from a point in Contra Costa County to the easterly shore of San Francisco Bay and another branch would be from the mainland line in Contra Costa County to Martinez, where the grain traffic could be tapped. Intermediate towns along the line through the five counties would be tapped by spurs. One of the features of the proposed new road was a tunnel over a mile in length which would materially reduce the distance between Sacramento and Oakland.

This would give the Santa Fe a foot hold at two tidewater points which it had not had before, namely, Oakland Harbor and Martinez. Taken in conjunction with the new ferry system being installed at Emeryville and the plans for handling the passenger traffic between Oakland and San Francisco, the new acquisition would prove most valuable. It would place the Santa Fe in a position to handle both freight and passenger traffic from the bay counties and as far north as Sacramento with the same expediency and dispatch as any of the other competing railroads.

The articles stated that the company was organized to operate a railroad on a standard gauge track, either double or single, by steam or any other safe motive power. That it also had the right to buy, sell and mortgage land and transact any other business, such as issuing bonds or negotiating loans, was also included in the articles.

The life of the corporation was to be fifty years. The capital stock of $5,000,000 was divided into 50,000 shares with a par value of $100. Although organized as an independent company, little doubt seemed to exist that the company was fostered by some powerful financial interests. All of the rights-of-way had been secured practically along the whole route, and the work of securing them had been quietly prosecuted for months.