Chapter 5


Page 1

In 1892 the idea of building a road to Salt Lake City, thence to make connection with Eastern lines, was not new by any means. It had originated several years prior with a gentleman connected with the Santa Fe, but nothing toward the consummation of the scheme was undertaken. Now with the continually increasing freight rates of the Central and Southern Pacific railroads several wealthy men of San Jose hit upon the plan of interesting Eastern capital in the project, and for that purpose a meeting was called in San Francisco. John C. Biggs of Boston was one of those who looked at first with favor upon the prospective line between San Francisco and Salt Lake. The San Jose people agreed to subscribe $4,000,000 if a like amount could be obtained in the East. The Eastern men asked for time to consider the proposition but soon manifested an inclination to drop out altogether. So the proposition was abandoned.

Then Alvinza Hayward and E. L. G. Steele got their heads together and organized a move that resulted in the incorporation of the San Francisco & Great Salt Lake Railroad on May 21, 1892. A number of local financiers became interested, and in less than two weeks after the first meeting $30,000 was in the hands of a committee, composed of Daniel Meyer, William Babcock and E. F. Preston, for the purpose of making a preliminary survey. Abner C. Cleveland of Reno, Nevada, who was to incorporate a company in Nevada for furthering the enterprise, was put in charge of the work, and ran a rough survey, which, if followed, would make the line a little over 800 miles in length.

The articles of incorporation as filed at Sacramento, California set forth that the purposes for which the company was formed were:

1. To construct, purchase, own, lease, control, maintain and operate single or double track railroads of either standard or narrow gauge in the State of California or elsewhere, and to acquire, hold and own franchises, rights and privileges therefor, by grant from the authorities of any town, city, county or State, or by assignment from the grantees or holders of such franchises, rights and privileges or otherwise; also to buy, sell, lease, construct, charter, rent let and operate the roads of other companies; to indorse or guarantee the principal or interest or dividends of or upon the stock or bonds thereof and to consolidate with other railroad companies.

2. To buy, own, sell, mortgage, lease and deal in real estate and to improve the same, and to acquire, hold, trade in, use, sell and lease all such real estate or other properly as may be necessary, useful or convenient for the construction, maintenance and operation of the railroads of this corporation.

3. To construct, maintain and operate wharves, bridges and trestles and to lay rails and operate rods thereon; also, to construct, maintain and operate, either in connection with its railroads or otherwise, ferries, steamers, docks, slips and landing and discharging places for freight and passenger traffic.

4. To buy, barter for, sell, exchange and deal in the shares of its own capital stock or bonds and in the shares of capital stock or bonds of other companies.

5. To borrow money or issue bonds, promissory notes and other evidences of indebtedness and to mortgage and hypothecate any or all of the corporate property.

6. To buy, sell and deal in patent rights appertaining to railroads.

7. To exercise the right of eminent domain.

To carry on, conduct and engage in any business transactions, which may or can be included in or appertain to any of the matters aforesaid, and to do and perform any and all other and further acts which may be necessary, useful, convenient or auxiliary to the main purposes of the corporation.

Also, that the kind of railroad to be constructed by said corporation is a single or double track standard gauge railroad, with all branches, shops, depots, yards, etc., as may be necessary for the transaction of a general railroad business; that the road will run from San Francisco to Stockton; that the estimated length of said line is 100 miles; that at least 10 per cent of the capital stock subscribed has been paid in to Howard Havens, the treasurer of the said intended corporation; that the place where the principle business of said corporation is to be transacted is San Francisco; that the term for which the corporation is to exist is 50 years from and after the date of its incorporation; that the number of directors and trustees shall be five, and those appointed for the first year are: Alvinza Hayward, Daniel Meyer, William Babcock, E. L. G. Steel and E. F. Preston.

Also, that the amount of capital stock is $2,000,000, which is divided into 20,000 shares of the par value of $100 each, and that $100,000 has been actually subscribed, and the subscribers are the directors named, each subscribing for 200 shares of the capital stock.

This incorporation called for the construction of a railroad from San Francisco to Stockton passing through the counties of Alameda and Contra Costa. An incorporation of the line through Nevada had been made as well as two more incorporations, one for the line from Stockton to the eastern boundary of California, and the other for the line from Salt Lake City to the eastern boundary of Nevada. Upon completion of the road the several companies would then be consolidated. The necessary expenditure was estimated at $25,000,000, and it was believed that when a reasonable amount of the capital stock was paid up there would be no difficulty in floating bonds to build the road and once construction started it would be completed in three years.

Those at the head of the proposed railway were not inclined to do much talking about the project, simply asserting when interrogated that the work of construction was going right along and that in due time it would be completed as planned. This new undertaking, it was believed, would prove a formidable foe to the Southern Pacific, thus the reason for avoiding much publicity being the promoters of the road were already meeting with much opposition from the Southern Pacific Company, and were therefore not willing to disclose their plans.

On May 27 a suit was commenced in Martinez, California by the new railroad company to condemn a tract of land in Contra Costa County, the owners of which were Angus A. Grant, James A. Williamson and Horace W. Carpenter. The tract was part of what was known as the Moraga Ranch. The company asked that it be permitted to take possession of the land in question at once and use it while the present litigation was pending. The company further declared in its complaint that it desired the land for the purpose of constructing on it a steam railroad for public transportation.

The route of the railroad as given in the complaint was as follows: Commencing at San Francisco, thence in a general easterly direction to a convenient point not far distant from Redwood School House on San Leandro Creek, thence following the valley of San Leandro Creek and a branch thereof to a divide between San Leandro and Los Trampee Creek, thence following the latter stream to Walnut Creek, thence following Walnut Creek valley to Bay Point in Contra Costa County, thence by a route hereafter to be selected to the city of Stockton.

The San Francisco and Great Salt Lake Railroad seemed now to be an assured fact. The affairs of the company were rapidly assuming a degree of substantiality that made the outlook for a new overland route very encouraging. Plans for the new road had been under consideration for some months were not by sudden inspiration. Those interested in the new road were of the opinion that the road would pay from the beginning and expected that the support of the public would be given them from the fact that the new line would be a competing one and quite likely reduce the rates to and from California points.

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