History of San Diego, 1542-1908

PART THREE: CHAPTER 3: Early Railroad Efforts, Including the Texas & Pacific

The railroad ambition found early lodgment in the San Diego heart and the passion has endured through the years. Indeed, ever since railroads came into existence men have appreciated the importance of a direct eastern outlet for the seaport. In the dreamy days of Mexican rule, away back in the 30’s, they were discussing ways and means to accomplish the great end, but it was not until the American began to dominate the land that any organized effort was made.

In the early 50’s an agitation began for the construction of a railroad on the 32d parallel. Congressional action was secured for the preliminary surveys, and in May, 1853, Colonel J. Bank­head Magruder, president of the Atlantic & Pacific Railroad Company, published his report. In January, 1854, Colonel Andrew B. Gray started out to make his “survey of a route for the Southern Pacific Railroad, on the 32d parallel,” for the Texas Western Railroad Company. This report was not pub­lished until 1856, but the people of San Diego were fully informed of the undertaking and its results. Both these reports are extant and both are of great value.

JAMES W. ROBINSON. Who came to San Diego after a conspicuous career in Texas and was identified with the earliest railroad efforts.

Different statements have been made as to who was entitled to the credit for originating the first railroad corporation in San Diego. The account most generally credited seems to be that it was due to Judge James W. Robinson and Louis Rose. They were both from the South and doubtless well informed as to the feeling in the matter of the people there, and both took an active part in the affairs of the organization; so that the tradition carries a strong degree of probability. Wm. C. Ferrell and J. J. Warner are also mentioned in this connection.

Early in November, 1854, the San Diego & Gila, Southern Pacific & Atlantic Railroad Company was organized. On November 16th J. R. Gitchell returned from Sacramento with the charter, and the following officers were elected: President, James W. Robinson; vice-president, O. S. Witherby; treasurer, Louis Rose; secretary, George P. Tebbetts; directors, J. W. Rob­inson, General H. S. Burton, U. S. A., E. W. Morse, Joseph Reiner, John Hays, M. M. Sexton, Louis Rose, L. Strauss, J. R. Gitchell, George Lyons, O. S. Witherby, and Wm. C. Ferrell. The purpose of the organization was to build a railroad to Yuma, there to meet the line which might reach that point from the East. Colonel Gray had abandoned his work at Yuma, on account of his pack mules being broken down, and the new com­pany, therefore, promptly took steps to supply the deficiency. They sent out a party of surveyors to examine the pass to Santa Ysabel by way of the San Diego River, who returned about the time the charter arrived, and according to the Herald “made their report, which is so favorable as to astonish everyone who had never been through by this route.” A second reconnais­sance of the mountains was immediately begun, and the sur­veys were pushed with vigor and success, demonstrating the feasibility of the “direct route” to Yuma, upon which the peo­ple of San Diego insisted with so much tenacity in later years. But this was not all; these enterprising men prevailed upon the city to make a donation of two leagues of land (about 8,850 acres)—at an election held October 19, 1855, all the votes being for the donation—a gift which would have become of princely value had the railroad been built—and secured the confirmation of this grant by the state legislature.

The organization continued actively at work until the Civil War began. Many of the original officers and directors retained their positions during the period. In 1855, J. C. Bogart, E. B. Pendleton, and D. B. Kurtz succeeded John Hays, L. Strauss, and Wm. C. Ferrell as directors. In the following year, J. C. Bogart was treasurer, in place of Rose. Early in 1858, Rose was treasurer again, and E. W. Morse chairman of the auditing committee. At the annual election in this year, 0. S. With­erby became president, Wm. C. Ferrell vice-president, D. B. Kurtz treasurer, and George P. Tebbetts remained secretary, as from the beginning.

At this time the hopes of the people were very high. Indeed, it seems probable the road would have been built but for the war. That conflict dashed the people’s hopes, not merely for the time of its duration, but for many years after. The South had never for a moment thought of building a railroad to any terminus other than San Diego, but it now no longer dominated either the politics or the finances of the country, and it was nec­essary to wait until new financial and industrial combinations could be made. It was not until the second year of the Horton period that lively hopes of the speedy building of a railroad again cheered San Diego.

The Memphis, El Paso & Pacific Railroad Company, known as the Memphis & El Paso, or the Frémont route, was one of the numerous projects for building on the 32d parallel. The east­ern terminus was Memphis, and the western was at first Guay­mas, but this was afterward changed to San Diego. The old San Diego & Gila was revived with a new set of officers, and Colonel Wm. Jeff. Gatewood, the president of the reorganized company, was sent to Memphis to negotiate. In 1868 General M. C. Hunter, of Indiana, representing the Memphis & El Paso Railroad, came to San Diego and addressed large meetings. He succeeded in negotiating a contract between the two companies, whereby the former company agreed to build the road, and received the grants, franchises, and lands of the latter, valued at $500,000, in exchange for stock. General Hunter selected a site for the depot, upon the company’s own lands, some half mile from Horton’s wharf, and also made a contract with the Kimball brothers, owners of the National rancho, for a way sta­tion on their lands, for which the Kimballs were to donate 110 blocks of land. General Thomas S. Sedgwick then proceeded to make a survey, and General John C. Frémont went to Paris and succeeded in placing 148 first mortgage bonds for $116,430. Application was made to Congress for a grant, but this failed, and the whole scheme quickly collapsed. The Paris investors sued Frémont, and the land subsidy was forfeited to the city. General Sedgwick, who had just completed his maps, was sent east as the agent of the San Diego & Gila to secure a concella­tion of the contract between the two companies, and succeeded in doing so.

But the people of San Diego were not left long without hope. During these years, from 1868 to 1871, we hear of the San Diego & Fort Yuma, which was to run via Jacumba Pass; of the old Southern Pacific, the Transcontinental, and other projects; but it was not until the Texas & Pacific Railway Company was char­tered, March 3, 1871, that there seemed once more substantial ground for the belief that the day of prosperity was at hand. The Texas & Pacific was responsible for so many things—for San Diego’s first considerable boom and its greatest disappointment—and, in a way, for its subsequent growth and prosperity—that a somewhat extended account may properly be given.

THOMAS A. SCOTT. The great railroad magnate who undertook to extend the Texas and Pacific to San Diego and whose failure to accomplish it exerted a profound influence on the history of San Diego and of Southern California for many years.

This company was incorporated by Colonel Thomas A. Scott, of the Pennsylvania Railroad, and others. Scott was made its president, and gave his efforts energetically for several years to the task of building a road through to San Diego. Senator John S. Harris, one of the directors, spoke in San Diego on behalf of the road, August 28, 1871, which was the first public meeting held in connection with the enterprise. In March, 1872, Scott acquired by consolidation and purchase property and franchises of the old Southern Pacific, the Transcontinental, and the Memphis & El Paso Railroads, and by act of Congress approved May 2, 1872, was granted power to build and equip lines between the Mississippi River and the Pacific Coast.

In the meantime, the people of San Diego were awake to their interests. Late in March, 1872, a committee of forty was appointed, of which Thos. L. Nesmith was chairman, and the congressman, S. O. Houghton, was instructed to use his best judgment. Horton went to Washington a few days later, and co-operated with Houghton and General Sedgwick. It was thought essential that the charter should provide for building the road from both the eastern and western ends simultaneously, to fix a minimum mileage to be constructed ,each year, and to limit the time within which work should be commenced to one year, in order to safeguard the city’s interests. Colonel Scott readily agreed to these requirements, and promised to visit San Diego to negotiate for a franchise and property of the old San Diego & Gila and explain his views to the people. There was a powerful lobby against the bill, both before and after amendment, much of which came from northern California, but the bill finally passed and was approved on May 2d, causing great rejoicing in San Diego.

Surveying parties were immediately put in the field and the work was pushed with vigor. Three surveys in all were made. The first party of engineers arrived in San Diego on June 21, 1872. On August 8th, J. A. Evans, chief engineer of the Cali­fornia division, arrived to take charge of the work. On Sep­tember 5th the second party took the field, and nine days later, the third. In the following December, Crawford’s survey of the route from San Diego eastward was completed, and in March the Reno party completed its work and was disbanded. These three routes were, respectively: the southern route by way of El Campo; the middle route, by way of Warner’s rancho; and the northern, through the San Gorgonio Pass.

All of this was very encouraging, indeed, and when Colonel Scott started west early in August, with a party of legis­lators and other public men, the excitement rose to something approaching fever heat, and the people began to cherish an apparently well-grounded hope that their ambitions were about to be realized. The name and fame of San Diego were in every­body’s mouth. Population began to pour in from every direc­tion, men began to see visions of a wonderful destiny, and in a few weeks San Diego’s first great boom was fairly on.

The railway party came by way of San Francisco, here Colonel Scott and others made addresses. On August 18th, the steamer Hassler arrived at San Diego, having on board Pro­fessor Agassiz and party, on a voyage of scientific exploration, who remained to meet with members of the Scott party. Agas­siz was here ten days, continued his scientific researches, and left a much valued estimate of San Diego’s resources. The Scott party arrived by steamer on August 26th. A very dis­tinguished party it was, consisting of Colonel Scott; Senator John Sherman, of Ohio; Governor R. C. McCormick, of Ari­zona; Colonel George Williamson, of Louisiana; General G. M. Dodge, of Iowa; Colonel John W. Forney, of Philadelphia; Governor J. W. Throckmorton, of Texas; W. T. Walters, of Baltimore; John McManus, of Reading, Pennsylvania; Hon. John S. Harris; ex-Senator Cole; and W. H. Rinehart, the sculptor.

“As the boom of the California’s guns announced the arrival of the vessel,” said Colonel Gatewood in the World, “all San Diego drew a breath of relief and hope,” and we may well believe it.

THOMAS L. NESMITH. Chairman of the committee of Forty who conducted the negotiations with the Texas and Pacific in 1872.

A committee of citizens met the party, and Colonel Gatewood gave them a formal welcome. They were domiciled at the Hor­ton House, and the same evening a mass meeting and banquet were held at which Scott explained his plans. Among those who spoke were: Scott, Sherman, McCormick, Williamson, Dodge, and Agassiz, of the visitors; and T. L. Nesmith, Gate­wood, Taggart, and Hinchman, of the residents. Other citizens who participated were: T. L. Nesmith, Aaron Pauly, C. L. Carr, Bryant Howard, George W. Marston and Mr. Boyd.

Scott’s demands were far less onerous than had been feared. In the language of the Alta California, the committee of forty were “in fear and trembling,” expecting nothing less than “a modest demand for half a million in county bonds and at least one-half that the people owned in lands.” What he actually asked the people to give him was: a right of way 100 feet wide from the ocean to the Colorado River; the lands which had been granted to the old San Diego & Gila Company; a tract of land west of the court house, on the water front, 600 by 1500 feet, for a terminal; and either 100 acres of tide lands of acceptable shape and location, or the same area in Horton’s Addition adja­cent to the shore.

These requirements were considered moderate, and the com­mittee of forty joyfully accepted them. But a “vote of the cit­izens must be taken in order to authorize the levy of a tax to raise the necessary funds. It was resolved to call a mass meet­ing at an early day, that the action of the committee may be submitted to the people for ratification.” This was done Aug­ust 30th, without serious opposition. The stockholders of the San Diego & Gila were agreeable to all this, provided they were reimbursed for their outlay in times past, as they ultimately were by payment of $58,000 of city bonds.

The transfer of the franchise and remaining property of the old company to the new was made December 11, 1872, President Gatewood consenting reluctantly and insisting that the Texas & Pacific be firmly and legally bound to fulfill its agreements. On January 14, 1873, the final step in the transfer of the sub­sidy lands was taken. They were put up at auction, in 160 par­cels, and bid in by James A. Evans, engineer of the Western division of the Texas & Pacific, at $1 per parcel, there being no competition. The deeds from the city to Evans, and from him to the Texas & Pacific, were executed and filed for record the same day. The total area of these lands was 8,606 acres, besides 51 lots in Old San Diego and other places. The total value was estimated by the San Francisco papers at $3,000,000, and by Colonel Scott himself at $5,000,00.

The remainder of the San Diego & Gila’s story is brief. After the distribution of the bond proceeds, Mr. Morse employed W. T. McNealy to defend all suits against the company and attend to the disincorporation. As late as November 25, 1878, however, its business had not been wound up. The direct­ors met on that date and declared a dividend of 56½ cents a share, payable upon disincorporation. The amount estimated to be on hand, after payment of bills, was $1,766.85. The com­pany was soon after finally dissolved.

The stay of Colonel Scott and his party was short. The nego­tiations with the citizens’ committee were finished on the 27th, the party departed at midnight, and the Hassler with the Agas­siz party the next day. After this, events moved rapidly. The election of September 27th provided for the issuance of bonds to satisfy the San Diego & Gila stockholders, as well as to pur­chase terminal property. On November 11th occurred one of the most joyous and impressive ceremonies ever held in San Diego. Ground was broken for the new railroad, on the com­pany’s land, about one-fourth of a mile southeast of Mannasse & Schiller’s Addition. W. W. Bowers was grand marshal and his aides were Adolph Gassen, Miguel de Pedrorena, L. G. Nesmith, Frank Stone, and A. B. Hotchkiss. Colonel Gatewood presided, and the addresses were by Judge Rolfe, C. P. Taggart, and Governor McCormick. The jubilant feeling of the people was reflected in the World, which exclaimed: “We have twice supposed that the right note of accord had been struck, and we have been twice disappointed. Now there is no longer possibil­ity of deception. All our high contracting parties have put their sign manuals to an instrument which gives Scott all he has ever asked.”

Some months now elapsed, in which little apparent progress was made, and San Diegans began to grow restless. There were not wanting those who would be now called “knockers,” and, indeed, the vast issues staked upon this railroad might well excuse a feeling of impatience. On February 12, 1573, the World felt called upon to declare:

“We have enough raw material in San Diego to stock an ordi­nary lunatic asylum. We have amongst us men who discredit the good faith of Scott, and who cannot rid themselves of an uneasy opinion that he intends to palter with San Diego. It is useless to call the attention of these men to the fact that the railroad king is a man whose reputation for fair dealing is as exceptional as his success as a railroad administrator. They are possessed by the demon of distrust, and the sign manual of an archangel wouldn’t reassure them.”

But one week later the same writer recorded his opinion that “After a very full consideration of the matter, we have no hes­itation in saying that it is time that the Texas & Pacific Railway authorities should show their hands.” Evidently, he too had become infected with the microbe of impatience.

On April 21, 1873, occurred the ceremonies attending begin­ning of actual work on the construction of the railroad. T. L. Nesmith made a few remarks on behalf of the committee of forty, and C. P. Taggart also spoke. “Father” Horton threw the first shovelfull of earth, and said it was the happiest day of his life and that he felt more honored than if he had been chosen governor. About ten miles of the roadbed were graded, and some of this grade can still be seen near the tracks of the Santa Fé Railway.

In May, Colonel Scott wrote informing the committee that his company had decided upon the San Gorgonio route, and giving their reasons briefly. This was a disappointment to the people of San Diego, as they greatly preferred the “direct route” by one of the two other surveys. Still, so long as San Diego was made the terminus of good faith, they did not greatly object. Scott went to Europe in the fall to complete his arrangements for placing his bonds and raising funds for the construction of the road. Everything apparently went well, and he had matters all arranged in Paris for delivering the bonds and receiv­ing the money, as soon as the formalities of making out the papers could be completed. To pass the time of waiting he went to London with a party of friends, and during their absence the “Black Friday,” or panic, occurred which deranged the finances of the country and caused the French financiers to change their minds about making the loan. The failure of Jay Cooke & Company in December, 1873, cut considerable figure in this wiping out of the financial arrangements for the new railroad. Colonel Scott notified his friends and supporters in San hiego that he would be unable to fill his agreements.

The blow was a severe one to the young city and many thought it fatal. The population dwindled in the course of two or three years from 3,000 to 1,500. But there were a stout­hearted few who never lost faith nor courage. Scott was not ruined, they argued; he was still a wealthy man, still president of the Pennsylvania Railroad and of the Texas & Pacific, and had not abandoned or changed his plans. Jay Cooke & Com­pany were endeavoring to rehabilitate their standing and would come to his aid. And so they fed their hopes for some years.

But while these things were largely conjectural, there was one source of hope which seemed a strong one. This was the appeal which Scott promptly made to Congress for a national subsidy. Congressman Houghton had been re-elected in the fall of 1872 largely on the ground that he could help in matters of national legislation affecting San Diego’s interests. He was still in Congress, but, unfortunately, found himself in a minor­ity in the support of this measure. The day of great grants to railroads was passing, the country had been too hard hit by the panic of 1873, and Congress could not be induced to give the subsidy. Hope was not abandoned for a long time, however. In October, 1875, David Felsenheld was appointed to act as agent of the city at Washington, and in the following February a bill was passed by the House for a road on the 32d parallel, which was supposed to mean the Texas & Pacific; but the name of the company was changed to the Southern Pacific as suc­cessor to the interests of the Texas & Pacific, and San Francisco was made the western terminus. Further action was postponed until the next session of Congress.

When the matter came up in the next Congress, in December, 1876, San Diego was again represented by special agent, Felsen­held, and stormy times began, in a struggle to save the western terminus to San Diego. On December 18th, the trustees and rail­road committee telegraphed Colonel Scott as follows:

“The citizens of San Diego rely implicitly upon your honor and good faith for the consummation of your oft-repeated pledges. You promised that if the route directly east proved feasible it should be constructed. Fulfill your pledge. The direct line is the only route upon which a competing railroad should enter San Diego and they will unanimously oppose any compromise that will not secure that line.”

To this Colonel Scott replied:

“Have used my utmost efforts to secure San Diego a railroad line on such route as can best effect the object; and if you can effect it in any better shape than I can, I should be very glad to have you take it up and adjust it with any party, or on any terms that you may think best. But in taking these steps, I shall expect you to relieve me of any possible ob­ligation.”

At this time, Scott offered to relinquish his subsidy, being in doubt about the possibility of securing government aid, but the offer was not accepted, and on the contrary every effort was made to secure the enactment of suitable legislation.

General Thomas S. Sedgwick was employed to assist Felsen­held, and in January Horton was sent “to assist Sedgwick and yourself in explaining advantages of direct route and disad­vantages and great injustice of proposed San Gorgonio switch.” Long telegrams were sent to Hon. L. R. C. Lamar, chairman of the House Committee on Pacific Railroads, and to Hon. James A. Garfield, and other members of that committee, explaining San Diego’s situation and desires. The chief contention was that “this people entered into a contract with the company authorized by law to build the road, conveying to said company valuable franchises and over nine thousand acres of land on said bay, in­curring thereby a large city bonded indebtedness, for which all our property is pledged;” “that a large population have been drawn hither from all parts of the Union, and induced to invest their fortunes here, in reliance upon the good faith of Congress in said legislation;” and that the proposed compromise, mak­ing San Francisco the terminus, missing San Diego by a hun­dred miles and leaving it to be served by a branch line of the Southern Pacific, would be a great injustice to the people of San Diego and the country, “and will bring ruin upon several thousand people who have trusted the promise of the govern­ment in said Act of Charter, and who rely upon the obligations of contracts entered into with a corporation in good faith for very valuable considerations.”

Two historic telegrams which passed between San Diego’s rep­resentatives at Washington and the city trustees exhibit the sit­uation very clearly. The attitude of the trustees was enthusias­tically sustained at a mass meeting of citizens. The telegrams were as follows:


To Trustees:


We are pressing direct route persistently, and will probably defeat bill. It will not be conceded. Compromise bill allows national or state railroads to connect on equal con­ditions. The San Gorgonio line would be so much towards Union Pacific line from Salt Lake, which would have right to connect at San Gorgonio. We are losing friends in Committee by our persistence and cannot count our present strength hereafter for any other move. By yielding we may get guaranteed bonds subsidy for whole line; and if Huntington does not build San Gorgonio line you will have the direct route, under the bill, by the time the through line is completed. The Committee concede that the direct line must follow soon under any conditions. All rights and privileges conceded and secured, except direct route. The Southern section (of the House) which fully understands the situation, believes this the last chance for Government aid. They comprehend the benefits of the di­rect route; but think you should make concessions to get a rail­road on (less) favorite route. At this time shortness of route is not so important as results in developing Arizona and get­ting connections that will increase your commercial importance and population and trade many fold in few years, which growth will enable you to build the direct route long before you will need it to cheapen freights. Why not help yourselves now, to strengthen yourselves hereafter? Unless this subsidy bill passes, there will be no road for you to meet.





To Col. Sedgwick:


It is the deliberate and unchangeable con­viction of San Diego, that the proposed connection north of here, in the hands of the Southern Pacific Company, would be an injury instead of a benefit to us, because:

  1. It places in control of one corporation for all time every approach to our harbor.
  2. Trade and population would be taken away from, in­stead of brought here, while the road is building. It is now moving from the northern part of the county to Colton.
  3. By occupying the only passes it would prevent exten­sion of Utah Southern road and connection with Union Pacific.
  4. It would supersede construction of direct line from Anaheim, increasing our distance from San Francisco to 650 miles.
  5. It would increase the distance from Yuma by 60 miles.
  6. Experience has taught us that the strongest promises in a bill do not protect us against subsequent amendments at the desire of the corporations. Legislation that fails to require immediate beginning at this end, and construction of so much road before next session of Congress as to remove the temptation to amend bill, is worse than worthless.
  7. Whatever supposed guarantees may be put in bill mak­ing the road a “highway” it is well known by all engineers that the Company building the road holds in fact control of it; and no other company can have equal use, or will build paral­lel road.
  8. Southern Pacific Company one year ago agreed to built on direct line, provided San Diego would consent that it should have the western end.

So far from a San Diego standpoint: But we hold no petty local view; we supplicate no favors. The interest of San Diego is here bound up with the National interest. We sub­init to impartial statesmen the conceded truth that the pro­posed compromise diverts the Nation’s bounty from the origi­nal purpose of the Southern transcontinental legislation; de­prives all the millions east of San Diego of direct access to their nearest Pacific harbor; and destroys competition for all time. San Diego’s natural advantages are such, that in ask­ing the Nation’s aid for the construction of a railroad to her port, she asks it upon a line, and upon terms that will contribute to the Nation’s support and wealth for all time to come; while the compromise plan will be an intolerable and interminable national burden. For these reasons San Diego prefers NO bill, rather than the San Gorgonio branch. Read again both our dispatches to Lamar.


Signed by Board of Trustees.

The Board of Trustees at this time consisted of J. M. Boyd, D. O. McGarthty, D. W. Briant, W. A. Begole, and Patrick O’Neill. Boyd was president and S. Statler clerk.

Events have singularly borne out the judgment of the trus­tees concerning the effect upon San Diego, at least, of building the road through the San Gorgonio Pass instead of by the direct eastern route. Nor was Los Angeles indifferent to what she had at stake in the choice of routes. Later, when Scott’s efforts to secure legislation had come to naught and the Southern Paeific was beating him in the race to California, Los Angeles gave $400,000 to make sure that the road should use the San Gor­gonio Pass, and no other. It was the turning point for Los Angeles, and it involved long and bitter disappointment to San Diego.

In September, 1877, an agreement was made with Colonel J. U. Crawford to survey the route by way of Warner’s Pass as a means of demonstrating once more the utter falsity of the claim that the direct route was impracticable. Crawford and Felsenheld went to Washington early in 1878, together with Captain Mathew Sherman, to make one final effort in behalf of the enterprise, but it came to nothing.


Thus ended the dream of the Texas and Pacific system with its western terminus on the shores of San Diego Bay. The result was in no wise due to the people of San Diego. They were wide awake to their opportunity; they contributed with prodigal gen­erosity to the subsidy; they fought long and stubbornly to pro­tect and to enforce the contract. Failure was due, in the first instance, to the panic of 1873; then, to the sledgehammer blows which Huntington rained upon his rival, Scott, until he had beaten him alike at Washington and in California. So Scott’s star went out of the Pacific sky, and Huntington’s rose resplen­dent, to shine with ever increasing luster while he lived.

There were times when San Diego hoped that Huntington would build his line to the port of San Diego and thus create the desired eastern connection. There is no evidence that he ever seriously contemplated the project. He, visited San Diego with Crocker and others in August, 1875, and met a committee of citizens. The best account of what occurred at the interview appears in the following statement by E. W. Morse:

“I was on the railroad committee when Huntington and his associates were here to negotiate with us. I think Hunting­ton never intended to build to San Diego, but that he only came for political effect. They never made us a proposition. We met on a Sunday. Huntington said he was not then pre­pared to make a proposition. I told them about General Rose­crans’s trip to Jacumba Pass and what he said about the route. Mr. Huntington objected that that would take them down in Mexico, which he thought would make undesirable complica­tions. I suggested that he could probably make such an ar­rangement with Mexico as the Grand Trunk had, which crosses the line into the United States twice. Huntington said, “Well, I don’t know but that would be well.” Gener­al Roseerans said several times on his trip that he never saw a better route for a railroad; “it looks like it was made pur­posely for a railroad.” They talked very pleasantly with us and finally said that one of their directors was traveling in Europe, and “as soon as he returns we will make you a proposition giving the terms on which we will build a railroad into San Diego.” I have memoranda which I made at the time of that interview. We kept on asking them to make a propo­sition after that, but they never got ready to do it. He said we could depend they would be the first railroad to build into San Diego, and when the time was ripe they would build.

“I don’t believe Huntington ever showed a spirit of vindic­tiveness toward San Diego, as has been reported. In all the correspondence with him which I have seen, he was very friendly. Mrs. Burton, widow of General H. S. Burton, was once dining with him, and said to him she did wish he would build a railroad into San Diego, that she had some property there which would increase in value and it would make her a rich woman. “Well,” he said, “it is not to our interests to build in there, at present.” He talked very pleasantly about it and gave as one of their reasons for not building that if they should touch the Coast at San Diego, they would come in competition with water transportation. I think they were in­fluenced largely by the consideration of getting the long haul clear into San Francisco, which they get now, while if they had built in here, they would have had to divide with a steam­ship company at this port. This party was entertained at the Horton House and was treated well.”

Return to Books.


Main Page
Author’s Foreword
Introduction: The Historical Pre-Eminence of San Diego

PART ONE:   Period of Discovery and Mission Rule

  1. The Spanish Explorers
  2. Beginning of the Mission Epoch
  3. The Taming of the Indian
  4. The Day of Mission Greatness
  5. The End of Franciscan Rule
    Priests of San Diego Mission

PART TWO:   When Old Town Was San Diego

  1. Life on Presidio Hill Under the Spanish Flag
    List of Spanish and Mexican commandants
  2. Beginnings of Agriculture and Commerce
    List of Ranchos in San Diego County
  3. Political Life in Mexican Days
  4. Early Homes, Visitors and Families
  5. Pleasant Memories of Social Life
  6. Prominent Spanish Families
  7. The Indians’ Relations With the Settlers
    List of Mission Indian Lands
  8. San Diego in the Mexican War
  9. Public Affairs After the War
  10. Accounts of Early Visitors and Settlers
  11. Annals of the Close of Old San Diego
  12. American Families of the Early Time
  13. The Journalism of Old San Diego
  14. Abortive Attempt to Establish New San Diego

PART THREE:   The Horton Period

  1. The Founder of the Modern City
  2. Horton’s Own Story
  3. Early Railroad Efforts, Including the Texas and Pacific
  4. San Diego’s First Boom
  5. Some Aspects of Social Life

PART FOUR:   Period of “The Great Boom”

  1. Coming of the Santa Fe
  2. Phenomena of the The Great Boom
  3. Growth of Public Utilities
  4. Water Development

PART FIVE:   The Last Two Decades

  1. Local Annals, After the Boom
  2. Political Affairs and Municipal Campaigns
  3. Later Journalism and Literature [new material in second edition]
  4. The Disaster to the Bennington
  5. The Twentieth Century Days
  6. John D. Spreckels Solves the Railroad Problem

PART SIX:   Institutions of Civic Life

  1. Churches and Religious Life
  2. Schools and Education
  3. Records of the Bench and Bar
  4. Growth of the Medical Profession
  5. The Public Library
  6. Story of the City Parks
  7. The Chamber of Commerce
  8. Banks and Banking
  9. Secret, Fraternal and Other Societies
  10. Account of the Fire Department

PART SEVEN:   Miscellaneous Topics

  1. History of the San Diego Climate
  2. San Diego Bay, Harbor and River
  3. Governmental Activities
  4. The Suburbs of San Diego

Political Roster, City of San Diego
Political Roster, San Diego County