Through Passenger Service Begins
Almost lost among the excitement of the first passenger train west,
Western Pacific opened its San Francisco ticket office. With hearty
toasts to success on the part of many prominent railroad men of the
city, the new office of the Western Pacific company in the Palace
hotel was formerly opened on the afternoon of August 20, 1910 by a
Although the office had been occupied by the company for the previous three months, no tickets had been sold there.
A full assortment of tickets were now on hand and the office would open the following Monday morning to regular passenger traffic. Under the direction of W. H. Davenport, general agent of the company, the handsome office was artistically decorated. Punch was served all during the afternoon and Davenport, with the other members of the office staff, were kept busy shaking hands.
After crossing the Nevada/California state line the special wound through the long Beckwourth tunnel, this pierces the Sierra divide for the Western Pacific.
High up in the Sierra Valley, the fertile meadow land that lies at the very top of the mountain barrier, a stalwart rancher stood close to his cottage waiting for the train, and as it came abreast of him he presented arms with his shotgun and then blazed away with both barrels at the blue sky, the first powder burned in California in honor of the Western Pacific's completion. Though he may not have heard them, appreciative cheers and shouts were tossed back to him from every open car window.
A little farther on another Sierra Valley man had brought his wife and the baby to get the first look at the historic first passenger train. Their expedition seemed to be chiefly for the baby's benefit. Held high in its father's arms, the future citizen or citizens of proud Plumas was given the first and best look at the flying special.
From every cross roads and every cabin in the pine clad uplands with hat, hand or kerchief greetings were waved to the speeding train.
The train then drew up at the new made town of Portola. There the people of the new countryside were gathered to get a look at the first overland train of the system that now linked them to the busy world. Four of representatives from Oroville, the Orovillians, they didn’t mind the smile provoking designation, were on hand with a ton of fruit — melons, oranges, grapes, peaches and figs — with badges of their favorite golden yellow to pin on every breast and with four destined lines of Oroville talk just to give the travelers a foretaste of that nights rousing welcome to come. The Oroville advance guard was made up of N. B. Crane, secretary of the chamber of commerce; A. M. Smith. E. Meyer and Major A. F. Jones, veteran boomers and boosters all.
To Blairsden they came by saddle and team. Johnsville sent a decorated wagon with its band, wide halted mountain men blowing and thumping out melody with a refreshing fervor. Women and babies were there in summer white, with flags and smiles and cheers. A. C. Agnew climbed into the band wagon and steadied himself with one hand by the streaming silken flag as he told few of his own Johnsville and all of prosperous Plumas how good it felt to witness the long deferred realization of their railroad dreams this day come true.
Then, following the usual cries for Lomax the “governor," as his staff affectionately hails him, spoke in reply in his customary candid way. Lomax, old in experience and wisdom, but young in his enthusiasm, knows how to make a verbal hit from any position, and nobody has anything on him when it comes to saving things in behalf of railroad enterprise. You see, he believes in this line of transportation goods he is handling, and so can make others believe in it also. Blairsden believed him before he began, and said so with a shout that came echoing back through the clear, warm summer morning.
Then at Hartwell the good people of Quincy had come up again over a five mile branch road, which they built themselves to connect with the Western Pacific. Again their really excellent band, all in neat white duck, blew as a humorous greeting, while feminine Quincy, from grandma to the little daughter of the house, distributed smiles, fruit and flowers.
Julius Kahn, husky from much outdoor prophesying for the new overland route and for the Panama-Pacific exposition, got up on the freight platform and waved an elegant oratorical forefinger as he proclaimed the gospel of good times for the mountaineers and their neighbors.
The special's run from Hartwell to Oroville was broken only by a brief stop at Intake, where the Great Western Power Company was adding to its extensive works a dam that would impound for it a great body of the Feather River flood season flow. The ride along the Feather River is an experience not to be duplicated anywhere. For a full 100 miles the road winds with the beautiful stream that is in winter a restless river racing between its granite banks, yet so far above it as to be wholly safe from any period of the torrent. Rugged walls and towering battlements of stone border the way and the pines and firs bristle along the high cliffs. One sees in the clear waters below schools of salmon unable to get past the rock barriers, yet blindly obeying the laws of their kind, their fins beating against the current, and their heads ever upstream.
It had been a great day for Northern California. More than a half century the sturdy folk of those mountains and valleys had waited for the first transcontinental train. To see how they welcomed the train had been a spectacle worth the long journey.
It was said that this day "through the canyons to the waters of the west" the Western Pacific led its iron stallions down to drink.
On that night the first day of the California phase of the spectacle reached a climax at Oroville, where the train was halted until morning in order that there may be no travel in the dark and so that the entry into Oakland and the Pacific terminus may be made Monday afternoon in due state and style.
The Oroville celebration was well done, after the enthusiastic and whole souled fashion of a community from which any city north of the Tehachapi might very well take lessons in civic team work. By the time the Western Pacific pilgrims piled off their train the astute and energetic Orovillagers had them all so tagged and labeled that you might easily have thought the whole thing a party arranged by, for, and in the sole interest of this up and doing town.
"Welcome," said the aureate badges, "Guests of the Western Pacific, welcome to Oroville, the gateway city in Sacramento Valley. First passenger train, August 22. 1910." And then the feathers, fair white plumes, stamped in gold, "Oroville on the Feather welcomes Western Pacific," were oriflammes for all the headgear.
In front of the masonry depot, happily designed in a modified style, was the best of Oroville's citizens and the best is good enough to talk about, the business and professional men whose avocation is to keep something coming and going all the time through the gateway city, their women kind, a uniformed band, altogether as eager and as enthusiastic a crowd as one could wish to find. A little apart, near the new depot, little Oroville was out in force with loops and strings of firecrackers strung from poles to add a picturesque touch and enlivening note to the informal celebration.
They didn’t wait for introductions or stand on any other ceremony when they were out boosting in Oroville. The firecrackers were still rattling and the band had not finished crashing out its first number of welcome when the reception committee — to name its members would be to give a business directory of the town — had the pilgrims all sorted out and assigned to automobiles and carriages for a whirl about the place and its environs. In each conveyance, mark you, was one of the accomplished, two handed talkers of Oroville, loaded to the lips with precise and detailed information about gravel mining, orchards, population and railroad shipments. For two hours the visitors were whisked all over this part of the country with small regard for speed regulations.
After a night of regaling the train left Oroville at 7 am the morning of August 22nd. Stops would be made at all of the important stations on the line and receptions given to those on the train at Marysville, Sacramento, Stockton, Livermore, Hayward, San Leandro and finally Oakland.
At Marysville the desire of A. L. Brown, a local merchant, to show more of Marysville than was on the program for the Western Pacific officials and their guests caused a group of the visitors to miss the special train. They saw the sights, but got to the depot after the special had pulled out. Then Brown loaded his auto with gasoline and brought his guests to Sacramento. He covered the distance in 2 hours and 10 minutes and landed them on the special before it pulled out. Those who missed the train were James K. Steele of the Pacific Improvement Company, C A. Horn of the San Francisco Chronicle and K. C. Kerr of the Salt Lake Tribune.
Cheering thousands of residents and businessmen welcomed the first through Western Pacific passenger train as it drew into the depot at Sacramento at 9:25 am and thousands cheered it again as it left for the last lap of the journey from Salt Lake City to Oakland just before the noon hour. Sacramento's welcome to the new Gould line was simple, but sincere. Governor Gillett spoke a welcome to the officials of the new road and the correspondents from the newspapers of the east, the intermountain states and California, on behalf of the state and Mayor Beard extended a hearty welcome to the first through service on behalf of the city of Sacramento. Response was made by Max Theilen, on behalf of the Western Pacific.
C. M. Levey, vice president and general manager of the Western Pacific met the special at Sacramento. Levey expressed himself as being satisfied with the record made by the first passenger train. He said:
"The Western Pacific railway has been nearly five years in building. The main track is now in satisfactory condition and it is with considerable gratification to the officers of the company that today commemorates the start of the first regular train between San Francisco and Salt Lake City. The service now inaugurated is merely the commencement. It will be increased and improved as fast as the demands of business require. New tracks will have to be installed and much more filling in will be necessary, but this is no more than other railroads, which have been operating for years, are doing. It is necessary to keep on filling in places where the roadbed is narrow.”
H. M. Adams, freight traffic manager of the Western Pacific, who made the trip in the first train, was compelled to address the newspapermen following the parting remarks of Passenger Traffic Manager Lomax. Adams was one of the busiest men on the trip, also one of the shyest men, and when he was called upon yesterday morning he attempted to run away. He said:
“I can only extend my thanks to you newspapermen on behalf of the freight department. It seems that the passenger department understands the best way to let people know what is going on. The freight department has been doing business since the first of the year, but it has not had the publicity. The freight department does not seek publicity as a rule, but during this trip with you newspapermen I have come to the realization that publicity is a good thing for any department of a railroad. Why, prior to this trip the public did not know what points were reached by the Western Pacific. They know it now, and the freight department owes much to the press for the dissemination of that information.”
Arriving at Stockton on its scheduled time, 12:20 pm in the afternoon where hundreds had assembled at the depot shortly after the noon hour anxiously awaiting the appearance of the train with its passengers consisting of officials of the road and newspapermen. As the train pulled in the great crowd broke into cheers. Mounted on the front of the big locomotive was a moving picture man busily engaged securing pictures of the scene.
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