Chapter 6


Page 1

"We think we can land coal in San Francisco for $1.50 a ton and supply it to the manufacturer at from $3 to $4," said James Treadwell on March 2, 1895 as he spoke for the San Francisco and San Joaquin Coal Company, which has just been incorporated, and back of which were some of the wealthiest men in the State. The incorporators were Colonel J. D. Fry, president of the California Savings and Trust Company; Jacob C. Johnson of the wholesale saddler firm of J. C. Johnson & Co.; John W. Coleman of Oakland; Henry Williams, a capitalist; R. D. Fry, James Treadwell and Harry A. Williams of Williams, Brown & Co. The corporation had a capital stock of $5,000,000, divided into 50,000 shares. Of these 10,000 shares had been reserved in the treasury to be sold for equipment, and subscriptions had already been received for nearly the full amount.

The coal fields owned and controlled by the company were situated in Corral Hollow, eight miles east of Livermore and covered a territory six miles long by a mile and a half wide. More than three-quarters of a million dollars had been spent in developing the property and the experts were of the opinion that there was between twenty-five and one hundred million tons of coal already in sight. The main tunnel, which extended 3000 feet into the hillside, crossed seven distinct veins of high-grade coal. In one vein, measuring seven feet across, a "stope" had been run for 400 feet, and in another, measuring ten and a half feet, a "raise" extended 650 feet to the surface of the ground.

"We propose to handle the coal," said Mr. Treadwell, "by the improved machinery now in use in the East. A standard gauge railroad for which the survey has been completed and the grade stakes are in position, will be built, if necessary, from the mine to the San Joaquin 'Old River' at Bethany, just below Mohrs Landing, a distance of twenty miles, and from that point the coal will be brought to San Francisco by steam barges owned by the company. The barges will be loaded from bunkers on the river-bank, and unloaded by means of steam shovels resembling the 'clams' of a dredger. In this way the cost of handling —a large item under the present system —will be reduced to a minimum. The grade from the mine to the river is an easy one, averaging not more than fifty feet to the mile.

"We hope, however, to persuade the promoters of the new San Francisco and San Joaquin Valley railroad to pass directly through our territory and will be very glad to offer inducements to that end. If the line is to go by way of Stockton a route through Haywards Pass, Castro and Livermore valleys to Corral Hollow, thence via Tracy to Stockton, is the shortest and easiest yet proposed. This route would be advantageous to the railroad, for it would thereby secure cheap fuel and would handle for us about 2000 tons of freight a day. Our cars will be constructed to standard gauge in order that when the valley road is completed they can be switched directly on its tracks.

"The Corral Hollow coal is a soft coal, something between the Wellington and the Coos Bay brands. Its steam-producing qualities have been tested and pronounced unequaled and it is valuable for family use. It kindles readily and burns freely, leaving a light feathery ash. The waste which usually burns on the dump at a coal mine the company proposes to utilize for producing electricity, which will be supplied at reasonable rates to the cities of Stockton and San Jose and even Oakland for lighting and manufacturing purposes."

Persuading the San Francisco and San Joaquin Valley road to build into Corral Hollow failed and the coal company was forced to build its own road to Stockton.

Certified copies of the articles of incorporation for the Alameda and San Joaquin Railroad Company were thus filed with the Alameda County Clerk on May 1, 1895 the capital stock being set at $500,000, of which $30,000 had actually been subscribed. The incorporators were John Treadwell, Robert D. Fry, E. B. Pond, J. Dalzell Brown and Brodie M. Bradford, each of whom had subscribed for sixty shares of stock at $100 per share.

The road was to run from a point near the San Francisco and San Joaquin Coal Company's mines in Township 3, Alameda County, near Livermore, through portions of San Joaquin and Contra Costa counties to a point on the San Joaquin River. The line would be thirty miles long. The company intended to do a general freight and passenger business, construct wharves, and operate ferries and freight vessels on all the navigable waters adjacent to the bay and on the ocean.

While the company incorporated to do a general business, the main object of the road was to transport the coal, which the corporation intended to mine on an extensive scale, to San Francisco by means of the road and the waters of the San Joaquin River and the bay. This coal deposit, which John and James Treadwell purchased several years ago, had been developed to such an extent as to show that it was of immense value, and the company hoped by getting to San Francisco without paying current railroad rates, it would be able to sell at such a rate as to compete successfully with the coal that was being imported from other States or from abroad.

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