PART FOUR: CHAPTER 1: Coming of the Santa Fé

When the first through train arrived in San Diego, November 21, 1885, the railroad dream which had filled the imagination of enterprising citizens for more than thirty years came true. The event was the most potent influence in the creation of “the great boom” and the largest single factor in making the city what it is today, yet it is difficult to relate the circumstances which preceded and followed the coming of the Santa Fé without indulging in bitter denunciation of the frenzied financiers who greedily took all that San Diego had to give and never fulfilled the promises upon the strength of which it was given.

San Diego wanted a direct route to the East, and if it could not be direct across the mountains to the Colorado River, it wanted a route as nearly direct as it was possible to build to a connection with the Atlantic & Pacific in the Mojave River region. This was essential, because it was desired to build a city at the incomparable seaport, rather than at the spot where the great city of Los Angeles now stands. San Diego and National City wanted a real terminal on the bay “where rail and tide meet” as the basis of future commerce with the world of the Pacific.

In order to secure these advantages, San Diego and National City raised a magnificent subsidy, a part of which was sold for not less than $3,000,000 in cash, and the remainder of which has been appraised by its owners at $7,000,000. This subsidy was sufficient to defray, twice over, the entire cost of building the road from National City to Barstow, and yet the communities which conritributed so generously of their substance to get a railroad never owned a share of its stock, nor had the slightest voice in directing its policy. It was not expected, of course, that the subscribers to the subsidy would own or control the railroad, but it was expected that the road should be built and permanently maintained by way of the Temécula Canyon, a fairly direct route from the seaport to the East, and it was expected that the grand terminal of the Santa F&eaute; system should be established on San Diego Bay, and that the railroad would co-operate in good faith in the development of ocean commerce.

These reasonable hopes were disappointed. After a very few years, the Santa Fé moved its shops to San Bernardino, and a little later to Los Angeles; engaged joyously in booming the City of the Angels; finally got entrance to San Francisco, its present real terminus; and consistently conspired with rival interests to deprive San Diego of commerce by sea and railroad competition by land.

FRANK A. KIMBALL. The man to whose efforts and generosity San Diego is chiefly indebted for the construction of the Santa Fe railroad to this port. His brother, Warren C. Kimball, shares with him the honor of making the largest contribution to the railroad subsidy and also of founding National City.

These circumstances detract nothing front the credit of those who organized the successful effort to bring the railroad to the shores of the Bay. They clearly comprehended the urgent need of transportation facilities and proceeded to meet it in what was doubtless the only possible way at that time. Nearly everybody of weight in the community co-operated in the effort and gave generously to the subsidy, in proportion to the interest they had at stake. A number of public-spirited citizens dedicated their time and energies to the undertaking and persisted through all obstacles until the result was accomplished. But there is one man whose service was so conspicuous and valuable as to require special acknowledgment. This is Frank A. Kimball, of National City, who conceived the undertaking, who initiated it with the aid of a small group of citizens, who went to Boston and secured a contract with the highest officials in the Santa Fé system, who went again to renew the contract after the first one had failed, and who, with his brother, Warren Kimball, was by far the largest contributor to the subsidy.

Mr. Kimball had been trying to interest railroad promoters as far back as 1869, when he dealt with the representative of General John C. Frémont, president of the Memphis & El Paso, which was a mere fruitless project. In 1878, he corresponded with Commodore Vanderbilt, who answered that he would not “build a mile of railroad any faster than pushed to it by competition,” and with Jay Gould, who said: “I don’t build railroads; I buy them.” After six months of futile correspondence the railroad kings, Mr. Kimball called a secret meeting at the residence of E. W. Morse on Tenth Street in the shining, of 1879. He and Elizur Steele represented National City, while Mr. Morse and J. S. Gordon represented San Diego. John G. Capron joined the secret committee at an early stage of the movement. It was decided that a vigorous effort should be made to induce one of the railroads then building across the continent to come to San Diego Bay. Mr. Kimball was selected to represent the committee in the East and started on his mission about the first of June, 1879. The sum of $450 had been raised in San Diego and National City toward the expense of his trip, and he raised the balance by putting a mortgage on his house. He took with him the endorsement of the city authorities and of the Chamber of Commerce.

Mr. Kimball went first to Philadelphia, where he soon concluded that there was no hope of doing anything with the Texas & Pacific. In New York he learned what he could of the intentions of Stanford and Huntington and came to the conclusion that the best hope of success lay with the Santa Fé, which was determined to strike the Pacific Ocean somewhere and which, as he soon learned, was most favorably disposed to Guaymas, in Mexico.

Mr. Kimball remained in Boston about three months and his correspondence with the railroad committee during that period is an interesting picture of the times, as well as a fascinating record of the fluctuating hopes and fears of this lone emissary from the southwestern corner of the Republic. He dealt, chiefly, with Thomas Nickerson, president of the Santa Fé system, but also frequently met other officials and had some conferences with the full board of directors. Mr. Kimball’s severest critics admit that he was “a terrible single-handed talker in those days,” and he certainly had a big thing to talk about and big men with whom to talk. The situation was one which called for the utmost tact, shrewdness, and patience, combined with the sort of enthusiasm which not only awakens interest, but carries conviction, as well. When the railroad hopes of later days are recalled, and when it is remembered how much less the friends of San Diego had to offer in 1879 in comparison with their present claims upon the attention of railroad builders, no one can fail to appreciate the size of the task which Mr. Kimball undertook. On September 5, 1879, he telegraphed E. W. Morse as follows: “All right; leave tonight. Be ready to act on arrival.”

He had succeeded in getting a contract which provided for the building of a railroad within eight months forty miles “eastward from San Diego.” He had agreed to raise $10,000 in cash to pay for the right of way, to give 10,000 acres of land from the National Rancho, to get as much additional subsidy as possible, and to telegraph definitely what could be done by the people of San Diego and National City within twelve days of his arrival home. The details of this first subsidy are of no real interest, since it was never paid, owing to a radical change in the policy of the Santa Fé. It is important to note, however, that the expectation at that time was that the road would be built directly east to the Colorado River, and that surveys were actually begun to that end.

This preliminary work gained added importance from the presence of three representatives of the railroad, who arrived October 8, 1879. They were George B. Wilbur and Lucius G. Pratt, and W. R. Morley, chief engineer. These gentlemen remained in San Diego six weeks, making a thorough investigation. In their work of obtaining exact information about everything pertaining to the railroad and its prospects of business, their chief reliance appears to have been E. W. Morse, who worked indefatigably. Mr. Morse was a very modest man, and claimed no credit for himself, but it is the universal testimony that he rendered services of the utmost value.

The favorable report of Messrs. Wilbur and Pratt was quickly followed by the beginning of actual work on the part of the company’s engineers. It looked as if the last obstacle had been successfully passed, but such was not the case. Within two months all work was stopped by peremptory orders from Boston. A fateful change of policy had been determined upon without consulting the people of San Diego. Instead of building by the Southern route, the Santa Fé had suddenly decided to join hands with the Atlantic & Pacific in order to share in its great land subsidy, and to this end it would cross the Colorado River at the Needles. The question then arose as to whether San Francisco, rather than San Diego, should not be the terminus of the road. At any rate, it was decided to build to the Needles first, and to consider extensions later.

Naturally, San Diego was plunged in the deepest gloom. Times were hard, money scarce, and prospects dubious in every direction. Still, the members of the railroad committee, having been so near the realization of their hopes, were not inclined to give np. They wanted Mr. Kimball to make another trip to Boston and endeavor to renew the contract with the Santa Fé, even if the road must come by way of the Needles. John G. Capron was especially insistent, and it was finally arranged that $1,000 should be borrowed at a local bank to pay the expenses of the trip. A note for this amount was signed by Frank A. Kimball, John G. Capron, E. W. Morse, J. S. Gordon, E. Steele, James McCoy, O. S. Witherhy, A. Overbaugh, J. A. Fairchild, and J. Russ & Company. Thus Mr. Kimball went back to Boston. He says he was not cordially received by President Nickerson, but finally succeeded in getting an audience with the directors. He further relates:

“I went over the whole ground with them. I offered to renew our subsidy of 10,000 acres of land. They said they wanted to organize a syndicate to handle the land. I said I would put in 6000 acres of land as a nucleus for the Land & Town Company, and 10,000 acres to the railroad, and that they could then sell the railroad land to the Land & Town Company, in accordance with the suggestion of Mr. Frank Peabody. In addition to the land to be given by my brother and myself, I told them I thought I could raise a land subsidy of 10,000 acres. Thus we (the Kimballs) gave 16,000 acres. Then we sold them 9000 acres for $100,000 in cash. I told them we owed more than $60,000 and asked them where my brother and I would come in. Their answer was that they would give us one-sixth interest in all they owned (the subsidy) and this we accepted.”

He succeeded in organizing a syndicate of the officers and directors of the Santa Fé system, consisting of: Thomas Nickerson, the president of the company; Kidder, Peabody & Company; George B. Wilbur, B. P. Cheney, and Lucius G. Pratt, the gentlemen being directors of the Santa Fé. The provisions of the public contract were similar to the former one, except that the road was to be run by way of Colton and form a connection with the Atlantic & Pacific.

Mr. Kimball’s contract provided for the establishment of the grand terminal of the railroad at National City. This was not known to the people of San Diego at the time. The terms of the subsidy merely provided that the terminal should be “on the Bay of San Diego,” and it was expected that the railroad authorities would select whatever spot they deemed best suited to their purpose. As National City was a very heavy contributor to the subsidy, it certainly had the same right to consideration as San Diego, but since the terms of the agreement were not generally understood to discriminate between the two locations it is not strange that Mr. Kimball was sharply criticised by San Diego subscribers. On Mr. Kimball’s return from his second successful trip to Boston, the railroad committee appealed to the public for subscriptions. Their work was phenomenally successful. They raised a subsidy in cash, notes and land as follows:

$ Acres Lots
Allison, Jos. A. and J. M. $ 300
Arnold, C. M. 50
Aylworth, E. 65
Backesto, Dr. J. P. 100
Bank of San Diego 1000
Barnes, C. W. 50 1
Bass, John D. 50
Baugh, W. A. 100
Begole, W. A. 50 1
Bemis, Marco. 25
Bennett, T. 10
Benton, W. W. 25
Bernard, Charles 50
Bidwell, James 50
Birdsall, J. D. 250
Bowers, W. W. 200
Bowers, M. 30
Boyd, J. B. 100
Bradt & Sons 50
Bratton, S. H. 50
Britton, W. & L. 65
Brown, H. H. 50
Brown, J. R. 100
Buell, E. J. 50
Callaghan, John 100
Campbell, B. P. 100
Campbell, J. N. 100
Cantlin, Martin 50
Capron, John G. 750
Carroll, F. M. 100
Carver, J. J. 36
Cassidy, Andrew 50
Castle, F. A. and A. Klauber 50
Cave, D. 2
Chase, Chas. A. 75
Chase, A. J. 10
Christensen, J. P. 50
Choate, D. 400
Church, C. C. 25
Clark, George T. 50
Clark, John 25
Clark, M. L. 1
Cleveland, Daniel 27
Cohn, J. A. 50
Cole, A. A. 55 1
Commercial Bank 46
Conklin, N. H. 23
Cook, Henry 50
Corbett, Elizabeth 100
Cowles, Alfred 2
Cowles, F. H. 20
Coyne, Joseph 100
Crowell, Mrs. F. M. 25
Culver, C. B. 100
Dannals, Geo. M. 50
Desmond, John 1
Dievendorff, C. A. 200
Dobler, C. 150
Dodge, Rev. R. V. 400
Dougherty, H. H. 25
Downey, John G. 2
Doyle, John T. 20
Dranga, N. G. 0. 100
Dunham, Mrs. C. 1
Dunn, W. B. 20
Eaton, A. N. and E. D. 20
Emory, Gen. Wm. H. 13
Evans, A. E. 40
Fairchild, J. A. 200
Faivre Joseph 10
Farrell, Thomas 25
Felsenheld, David 12
Fenn, Dr. C. M. 100
Fischer, John 100
Folger & Schuman 1
Forster, John 250
Forster, M. A. 100
Fox, C. J. 100
Francisco, C. F. 100
Frisbie, J. C. 40
Frisbie, J. 0. 200
Gassen, A. G. 300
Geddes, George 20
Gerichten, C. P. 250 40
Ginn, Mrs. Mary S. 250 6
Gordon & Hazzard 500
Gordon & Hazzard, Morse & Steele 80
Goss, Thomas 230
Gruendike, Jacob 500
Guiou, D. 100
Gunn, Douglas 100 40
Hall, E. B. 100
Hamilton, Chas. S. 500
Hamilton, Fred M. 100
Hamilton, M. D. 150
Hammer, M. B. 80
Hanke, Carl T. 50
Harbison, J. S. 150 1
Hatleberg, J. 0. ¾
Henarie, D. V. B. 250
Hendrick, E. W. 25
Herman, D. C. 250
Herrander, John 50
Hicks, John J. 100
Higgins, H. M. 40
High, John E. 80
High, William E. 80
Hinchman, A. F. 48
Hinton, J. B. 160
Hitchcock, G. N. 100
Hoffman, John C. 25
Hollister, D. A. 100
Holm, Julius 50
Horton, A. E. 250
Howard, Bryant 500
Hubbell, Charles 30
Hyde, George 600 20
Ihlstrom, L. J. 100
Johnson, Robert 1
Jones, E. I. 50
Jones, S. P. 300
Jones, T. S. 300
Jorres, William 100
Josse, L. M. 50
Journeay, George 150
Julian, A. H. 75
Julian J. M. 100
Kelly, Robert 150 20
Kimball Bros 10,000
Knowles, A. P. 100
Knowles, Anna Scheper 100
Koster, P 300
Lankershim, I. 4 2/3
Larson & Wescott 400
Leach, Wallace 200
Lehman, Theodore 100
Levi, S. 100 1
Littlefield, Sheldon 100
Littlefield, S. and E. Stanwood 6
Llewellyn, William 20
Lockling, L. L. 1
Louis, Isidor 1
Lowell, Fred B. 50
Luce, M. A. 100 100
Mabury, H. and W. 12
Mannasse and Schiller 1
Marston, George W. 300
Marston, Harriet 12
Maxey, A. E. 150
May, Chas. E. 50
McCarthy, M. J. 50
McClain, J. W. 25
Mccool, W. 20
McCoy, James 250 40
McDonald, G. W. B. 80
McIntosh, F. 2
McRae, Daniel 100
Menke, A. 25
Minear, W. L. 50
Morrow, Richard 5
Morse, E. W. 750
Mumford, J. V. 50
Neale, George 50
Noell, Chas. P. 18
Norris, W. B. 50
Nottage, E. W. 25
O’Leary, Edmund 25
Overbaugh, A. 500 12
Owens, Edward 15
Page, Mrs. A. C. 50
Paine, J. O. W. 50
Palmer, Oscar 100
Pearson, A. B. 25
Pearson, J. L. 100
Perigo, Wm. 50
Perry, Mrs. C. L. 50
Perry, H. A. 50
Peyser, M. 2
Pidgeon, Geo. 100
Pierce, James M. 500
Poser, H. von. 50
Raffi, G. 100
Reed, Arabella 25
Reed, D. C. 150
Remondino, P. C. 200 2
Rennie, Gilbert 150
Reupsche, William 25
Rice, H. B. 100
Richardson, John H. 25
Richter, Hulda 1
Rogers, E. 0. 100
Rose, Louis 250
Russell, James 50
Rouland, N. P. 6
San Diego, City of 4500 124
Schneider, Arnold 200
Schuyler, D. 6
Seeley, A. L. 100
Selwyn, G. A. 80
Shelby, J. T. 2
Shellenberger, Amos 50
Sheriff, J. A. 250
Simpson, J. H. 150
Slade, Samuel 100
Smith, P. N. 10
Smith, Will M. 150
Snyder, J. H. 200
Stanwood, Elizabeth 100
Steiner & Klauber 40
Stewart, D. 20
Stewart, W. W. 200
Stockton, Dr. T. C. 12
Stone, Francis 15
Stone, George M. 100
Story, Joseph 100
Stow, John P. 25
Strauss, Kohnstrom & Blum 1
Surbeck, G. 25
Swain, W. H. 100
Tallman, E. H. 100
Terry, W. W. 125
Thompson, J. W. 100
Todd, James 50
Trask, P. H. 25
Trask, Roswell 25
Treat, John 2
Utt, Lee H. 10 2
Wadham, J. F. 100
Wallach, D. 100 4
Walsh, W. J. 15
Walter, Otto 100
Ware, K. J. 40
Watkins, N. and E. B. 40
Wentscher, A. 250
Wescott, J. W. 50
Wetmore, Chas. A. 250 6
Whaley, Thomas 100
Whear, R. S 100
Wheeler, M. G. 100
Whitmore, S. 100
Wilcox, A. H. 1000 80
Willey, H. I. 150
Williams, W. E. 50
Williams, W. L. 500
Winter, L. & Bro. 200
Witherby, O. S. 120 19
Witfield, G. 10
Wright, Ralph L. 25
Wright, W. W. 100
Wolfskill, J. W. 120
Yenawine, Samuel. 20
Young, James M. 25
Young, John N. 100
Young & Gray 80
Totals $25,410 17,355¾ 485 2/3

In connection with this new subsidy, the successful effort to recover lands given to the Texas & Pacific in consideration of benefits never received, is a matter of much historical interest. The movement began in 1876 with a suit brought by W. Jeff. Gatewood and A. B. Hotchkiss in the name of Thomas H. Bush, a taxpayer, against James A. Evans, the resident engineer, and Colonel Thos. A. Scott, president of the Texas & Pacific. The suit aimed to annul deeds made in 1872 by the city to Evans, the land having been afterward conveyed to the railroad. The ground of the suit was, of course, failure of consideration.

The suit was begun on April 10, 1876, in the district court of San Diego County. On January 20, 1879, Wallace Leach was admitted as one of the attorneys for the plaintiff. Evans and Scott had, in the meantime, disclaimed any interest in the lands in controversy, and in November, 1879, the action was dismissed as to them. This left the railroad company as the sole defendant. Though the suit was unpopular at first, the city of San Diego filed its intervention as plaintiff on January 6, 1877, and thereafter the suit was prosecuted in its name. Mr. Daniel Cleveland, as counsel for the Texas & Pacific, asked for the removal of the cause from the state to the United States Court, but the petition was denied.

This was the situation when the negotiations with the Santa Fé officials reached a hopeful stage. It was said, and generally believed, that if the city had at its disposal the lands, or even one-half of the lands, given to Scott in 1872 the railroad could be secured. With this idea in mind, President McCarthy of the city trustees sent the following telegram:

San Diego, California, Dec. 18, 1879.


Thomas A. Scott,
President of Texas & Pacific Railway Company,
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.


With a view to amicable future relations, to avoid expensive litigation and in the interests of immediate development and enhancement of all values here, thereby saving many of our best citizens from absolute ruin, are you willing to deed unconditionally, to the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fé Railway Company, pueblo lots 1158, west half of 1163, and fractional lots 1164, you keeping 1159, 1162, and east half of 1163; all of the balance of the land in litigation to be equally divided and the pending suit to be discontinued and amicably settled? Answer unreservedly, with understanding that in the event of failure of negotiations the despatches be not used to affect the rights of either party.


President Board Trustees.

Very promptly, Scott replied as follows:

Philadelphia, Dec. 19, 1379.
D. O. McCarthy,
President Trustees, San Diego, California:


Your despatch of the 18th received. Our desire has always been to do the best possible for the interests of San Diego. We will do what you desire, provided all pending suits are settled in such a way that no future annoyance or litigation can arise out of the lands that were deeded to our company, either by entering judgment on present suit so as to cover the basis of the present settlement or in such other form as our legal officers may approve, so that no possible cloud may rest upon the lands retained by our company. Answer if this is satisfactory.


Thomas A. Scott.

Mr. McCarthy answered:

San Diego, Dec. 20, 1579


Thomas A. Scott,


Satisfactory. Will arrange details with your counsel. Please instruct them.


D. O. McCarthy,
President Board City Trustees.

D.O. MCCARTHY. President of the Board of Trustees at the time settlement was made with Thomas A. Scott in regard to the City’s contribution to the Texas & Pacific subsidy.

It would appear that there should have been no delay whatever in closing the transaction, yet two anxious months intervened before it was consummated. There was considerable sentiment in the community against the acceptance of a compromise which gave the Texas & Pacific the right to retain any of the land which had been given in consideration of its unfulfilled promises to the people of San Diego, and many citizens urged the trustees to push the litigation to the bitter end, notwithstanding the exchange of telegrams which; as we study them now, seem to have had the binding force of a contract. Some affected to believe that Scott was not acting in good faith, and it is said that the legal advisers of the city trustees strongly urged them to continue the litigation. On the other hand, a large element of the public realized the urgency of a settlement in view of the pending negotiations with the Santa Fé and became daily more impatient in their demand for action. The committee of the Boston syndicate, Messrs. Wilbur and Pratt, were in San Diego at the time and threw their influence into the situation. When public interest in the matter had risen to a state of actual excitement, E. W. Morse and other citizens appealed to the trustees to end the delay. This appeal was successful, and commissioners were named to apportion the lands in controversy.

Finally, on February 16, 1880, the suit was set for trial. On the 24th of the same month, the appointed day, the court-room was packed with citizens, and there was much suppressed excitement. Wilbur and Pratt were present. Judgment agreed upon by the parties was entered, awarding to the defendant one-half of all the lands in controversy, and awarding the other half to Charles S. Hamilton as trustee for the public, with the understanding that he would hold and convey these lands for railroad uses, as he afterwards did.

M. A. LUCE. Attorney and Vice President Southern California Railroad, at the time the Santa Fe Railroad was built. Judge of County Court 1875-80, when Superior Court was established; postmaster, 1898-02; classmate of President McKinley at Albany law school. President Board of Trustees of Unitarian Society since 1898; First Commander of Heintzelman Post, G.A.R.

The progress of the new railroad was now rapid. The California Southern Railroad was chartered October 12, 1880, for the construction of a railroad from National City to San Bernardino. The officers were: President, Benjamin Kimball, of Boston; vice-president, M. A. Luce, of San Diego, directors, George B. Wilbur, Lucius G. Pratt, John A. Fairchild. Frank A. Kimball; attorney, M. A. Luce. In November the delivery of the escrow notes began, and construction work proceeded rapidly. By March, 1881, the grading was completed between San Diego and National City, and there was a gap of sixty miles between the two grading camps north of San Diego.

The first rail was laid at National City in June, 1881, and on July 27th the first train, a “special,” left that place. On November 2, 1882, a circular of the railroad company announced the completion and opening of the road to Colton, and stated that the directors had decided to extend it to San Bernardino. It was opened to the latter point on September 13, 1883.

Thus far, all appeared to be going well, but there was more trouble in store for San Diego and its railroad hopes. In February, 1884, a series of violent storms descended and literally destroyed the section of the railroad through Temécula Canyon, carrying out thirty miles of track. Between Oceanside and Temécula there was scarcely a hundred yards of track left, and the timbers were seen one hundred miles at sea. The road had been built too low by eastern engineers who did not understand the action of torrential streams in a bare and rocky soil.

For nine long months San Diego was without rail communication with the rest of the world after its brief taste of that luxury. Many feared that the road would never be rebuilt, and left the city in consequence. The company was without funds, and the amount needed to repair the damage was about $250,000. At length, funds were raised by means of a second mortgage and the location through Temécula Canyon was improved, but only to be abandoned. A new line was built up the coast to San Juan Capistrano and Santa Ana and the direct route by way of Temécula Canyon permanently abandoned. From that time forward the Santa Fé Railroad ceased to serve the purpose which the people of San Diego had in mind when they contributed their subsidy—the purpose of developing a seaport as the direct outlet of a true transcontinental railway—but this was not fully appreciated at the time.

Aside from the disastrous flood, there was another serious condition which arose to mar the prospects of a through line. This was the fact that the Southern Pacific had acquired some degree of control in the Atlantic & Pacific and proceeded to construct a road from Mojave to Needles. For a time, this looked like a death blow to the California Southern, thus apparently deprived of all hope of an Eastern connection and compelled to build an expensive connecting link, 300 miles long, over a mountainous and desert country from San Bernardino, even to connect with a semi-hostile road at Barstow. This difficulty was finally dissolved when the Santa Fé regained control of the Atlantic & Pacific and compelled the Southern Pacific to relinquish the road from Needles to Barstow by threatening to parallel the track if they tried to keep them out any longer.

Confidence now revived, the work was completed, and the first through train left San Diego November 15, 1885. It consisted of one passenger coach, with an engine, mail and express car. The engineer was A. D. Xander; the fireman, E. W. Boyd; conductor, Clarence Henderson; baggage agent, Mr. Schuman; express messenger, E. A. Harvey, and mail clerk, A. A. Robinson. About a hundred people were at the depot to see the train off. The first through train arrived November 21, 1885, in a pouring rain. It brought about sixty passengers, all but fifteen of whom were for San Diego. This train was received at San Bernardino with fireworks and at Colton by a large number of citizens and a brass band. It consisted of two coaches, with mail and baggage cars.

The people of San Diego now felt that, at last, their cup of joy was full, and proceeded to celebrate. Douglas Gunn, on behalf of the Chamber of Commerce, issued the following invitations:

San Diego, Cal., October, 1885


Dear Sir:


You are respectfully requested to be present at the celebration of the opening of the through railway line of the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fé system to the Pacific Ocean, at the port of San Diego, to be held in this city on Wednesday, November 18, 1885.


The completion of this line, establishing a fourth great highway between oceans in the United States, is an event whose importance, not alone to this city, but to the State and coast, cannot be overestimated.


The people of San Diego, with persistent energy and steadfast faith, have for a long period of years looked forward to the day that is now so close at hand. They will cordially greet you at their jubilee.


I am very respectfully,


Douglas Gunn,
Chairman Committee on Invitations.

This celebration is remembered as a very joyous occasion, and doubtless the hearts of the old campaigners who had been through the Texas & Pacific and Memphis & El Paso, if not through the San Diego & Gila, campaigns, melted within them as they recalled the hard-fought contests of the past and realized that, at last, victory had consented to perch upon their standards.

But alas! Fate had not yet done her worst. In the language of an amusing, if not classical, poet:

“O fate, thou art a lobster, but not dead!
Silently dost thou grab, e’en as the cop
Nabs the poor hobo, sneaking from a shop
With some rich geezer’s tile upon his bead.
By thy fake propositions are we led
To get quite chesty, when it’s biff! kerflop!
We take a tumble and the cog wheels stop,
Leaving the patient seeing stars in bed.”

The utter bad faith of the Santa Fé as a corporation—not necessarily the bad faith of individuals, for individuals die, resign, or fall from power—was gradually demonstrated to the satisfaction of those of even the dullest understanding. First, the dream of steamships and Oriental commerce faded away. No steamships were provided and, in later years, when commerce came across the ocean to the city’s gates, the Santa Fé Railroad drove it away by prohibitive rates. Next, the “grand terminal” for which much material had actually been assembled, melted away into thin air and it became apparent that no such terminal was intended to be established on the Bay of San Diego. At last, the shops and offices were removed to San Bernardino and Los Angeles. This last stroke was not inflicted brazenly, but with a show of good intentions which softened the blow, yet made no difference in the result. In the spring of 1889 the Chamber of Commerce was asked to meet officials of the Santa Fé to discuss an important matter. Judge M. A. Luce is authority for the following account of the affair:

“The meeting was addressed by the manager of the California Southern Railroad and Judge Brunson, the general counsel of the railroad. They wished to have the general offices of the company removed to Los Angeles, especially the general freight offices, which still remained in San Diego. They wished this done with the full approbation of the City of San Diego; and as an inducement to do this, they both alleged and promised that the railroad would immediately take steps to reduce the Sorrento and Del Mar Grade, either by tunnel or new line, so that freights could be carried from San Diego to Los Angeles, at cheaper rates. They also promised to extend their wharf facilities in the city, which to some extent, they have carried out. And it was stated that their object in changing the general freight office to Los Angeles was to encourage the commerce between the two cities, so that the San Diego harbor should be used for the freighting business of Los Angeles.”

WARREN C. KIMBALL. Associated with his brother, Frank A. Kimball in his successful efforts toward bringing the Santa Fe road here, and in the founding and building of National City.

Of course, the people of San Diego consented; and, equally of course, the promises which induced them to do so were disregarded by the great corporation. There have been some feeble efforts to compel the railroad to do justice, and to fulfill the agreement by means of which the communities about the Bay were induced to present a rich subsidy to, the frenzied financiers of Boston. These efforts came to nothing. The railroad has its way, promoting growth where it favors growth, compelling stagnation where its interest will be served by that condition, and making the interests of communities and the happiness of men conform to the rules of the game its masters are playing in distant financial marts.

Notwithstanding these untoward conditions, San Diego has grown and continues to grow, and the coming of the Santa Fé exerted a large influence on its fortunes. If the power of the railroad had been exerted on the side of the city, as the people had a right to suppose it would be when they subsidized it for twice its entire cost, this history would have been different in many respects.

The articles of agreement between Frank A. Kimball and the Boston syndicate seem well worthy of preservation, in view of the fact that the subsidy was paid and the railroad built—the only instance of the kind resulting from the many similar efforts in the history of the city, from 1845 to 1907. The following is the full text of the instrument:

ARTICLES OF AGREEMENT made this twenty-third day of July A. D., 1880, by and between Frank A. Kimball, representing himself, the firm of Kimball Brothers, the Chamber of Commerce, the Board of City Trustees, and prominent citizens of the City of San Diego in the State of California, party of the first part and Kidder, Peabody & Co., B. P. Cheney, George B. Wilbur, Lucius G. Pratt, and Thomas Nickerson all of Boston, Massachusetts, party of the second part, witnesseth:


That whereas the party of the first part desires to obtain railroad connection from the Bay of San Diego to the eastern part of the United States, and in and of the same, is able and willing to donate the lands, privileges and franchises hereinafter mentioned. And whereas the party of the second part is willing to furnish such connection and receive such donation.Now therefore, in consideration of the premises and their respective undertakings hereinafter set forth, and of one dollar to each paid by the other, receipt acknowledged, said parties mutually agree as follows:


Article 1.—The party of the first part will convey or cause to be conveyed by good and sufficient deeds in fee simple, free from all incumbrances except taxes due on the first Monday in January; 1881, to Henry B. Williams of San Francisco, John A. Fairchild, and Warren C. Kimball, both of said San Diego and all of the State of California, trustees, the several parcels of land and the several privileges and franchises hereinafter set forth, namely:


a) In behalf of Kimball Brothers; ten thousand acres of land in Rancho de la Nacion made up and selected as follows:—Fractional quarter sections one hundred and seventy-five (175) and one hundred and seventy-six (176), according to survey and patent of the United States now on file and of record in the county of San Diego, said fractional quarter sections giving one mile front upon the water of San Diego Bay, and all the land running back from said water front to such a distance as to embrace in all (exclusive of land heretofore sold which does not exceed twenty acres) two hundred acres, being the land heretofore bonded to a representative of the Texas Pacific Railroad Company together with such additional quantity of land south of National City, adjacent thereto, in such convenient shape as shall be required for workhouses, machine shops, warehouses, wharves and other appurtenances of the line of railroad hereinafter mentioned; and also together with all the riparian rights appertaining to the lands agreed to be conveyed and to any and every part thereof.


One half equitably selected of all the unsold portions of National City, being from one hundred fifty (150) to one hundred seventy-five (175) blocks of two and one-half acres each measuring through the centers of the streets as laid down on the plan of said National City.


Also south of National City, quarter sections 174, 179 and 160, and so much of quarter sections 173, 180 and 161 as may be necessary in the judgment of the engineers of the party of the second part, to control the channel of Sweetwater River, and then selecting alternate half miles of water front, measuring on the base line, said Kimball Brothers making the first selection, until two miles of water front (as near as may be) have been taken south of National City (making about three miles of water front in all) and then starting from said water front and running back, selecting tracts alternate (as near as may be) exclusive of those parcels already conveyed to sundry persons, until the full complement of ten thousand acres, as aforesaid, has been completed. Together with all tide lands and riparian rights belonging to or in anywise appertaining thereunto and to any and every part thereof.


The selections above referred to shall be made by mutual agreement between said Frank A. Kimball, and the party of the second part, or in case of dispute, by three persons chosen one by each of the parties hereto, and one by the two thus chosen, and the decision of a majority of them shall be final.


(b) On behalf of A. Overbaugh, O. S. Witherby and L. C. Gunn, about forty-five hundred (4500) acres of land in San Diego, being the same tract conveyed to said Overbangh, Witherby and Gunn, by Charles S. Hamilton by deed recorded with San Diego deeds, to which reference is had for more particular description.


(c) About three hundred scattered blocks and lots in the city of San Diego and about five thousand acres of land in and around the same, all of which now stand in the name of George B. Wilbur, as shown by sundry deeds in escrow in the hands of Bryant Howard and E. W. Morse of San Diego.


(d) The party of the first part also agrees to contribute the sum of ten thousand dollars to be used for the purchase of right-of-way and lands for depots, shops, water and other stations on the line which the party of the second part may adopt for the proposed railroad and for the general purposes of said railroad.


Article 2.—The party of the second part will form a company and will build a railroad of standard guage, four feet eight and one-half inches, from said Bay of San Diego to a connection with the Atlantic and Pacific Railroad in California.


And the party of the second part or the company to be formed as aforesaid shall begin work at the earliest practicable moment, and shall before January 1, 1881, construct twenty miles of said railway, starting from San Diego Bay, or shall perform an amount of work upon said proposed line and enter into contracts for said line in good faith, equivalent to the building of said twenty miles before said date; said work to be done and contracts made to be not less than two hundred and fifty thousand dollars in amount; and shall before January 1, 1882, construct not less than one hundred and sixteen (116) miles of said railway starting from said Bay of San Diego, and shall complete said connection with the Atlantic and Pacific Railroad as soon as practicable and at a date not later than the first clay of January A. D. 1884. Provided, however, that before forming said company or beginning said work, the following things shall be done and the party of the second part notified thereof, namely:


First. The lands and appurtenances from said Kimball Brothers and from said Overbaugh, Witherby and Gunn shall be conveyed as aforesaid to said trustees.


Second. The grantors in the several deeds to George B. Wilbur now in escrow with said Howard and Morse shall in writing direct the said Howard and Morse and the said Howard and Morse shall in writing agree to deliver said deeds to said Wilbur on or before January 1, 1881, upon the completion of said twenty miles or its equivalent in the manner and terms aforesaid; said Wilbur hereby agreeing to quit-claim said lands to said party of the second part.


Third. The sum of not less than ten thousand dollars in cash or its equivalent, shall be deposited with said trustees to be paid to the order of the party of the second part from time to time for the purchase of right-of-way and lands as aforesaid and for the general purposes of said railway; and the party of the second part shall be notified as aforesaid on or before September 1, 1880.


Article 3.—Said trustees shall upon the demand of the party of the second part, after the completion of said twenty miles or its equivalent, as aforesaid convey to the party of the second part or said company one-half of all the lands hereinbefore described and conveyed to them as aforesaid; and upon the completion of said one hundred and sixteen miles, said trustees shall upon the demand of the party of the second part convey to said party or to said company all the remainder of said lands and appurtenances, free and discharged of all trusts.


Article 4.—If the party of the second part or said company does not construct at least twenty miles or perform an equivalent amount of work, coupled with the purchase of materials as aforesaid before January 1, 1881, or does not construct one hundred and sixteen miles before January 1, 1882, unless prevented by unforeseen causes or causes which could not have been prevented by the use of ordinary forethought, or unless prevented by perils and delays of navigation, then upon due proof thereof, and upon demand by the party of the first part, or the majority of the persons in interest represented by said party, said trustees shall thereafter hold all said lands and things not theretofore conveyed by them under the terms of this agreement, in trust for the equitable benefit of the original grantors, their heirs and assigns, and shall distribute and dispose of the same as any Court of competent jurisdiction, upon the petition of any person interested and upon full hearing shall direct. Provided, however, that any default may be waived by the party of the first part or by a majority of the persons represented by said party; and the same shall be deemed to be waived if the party of the first part or the majority of the persons represented by the party of the first part do not make demand as aforesaid within sixty days after the happening of any default as aforesaid; but the waiver of any default shall not be considered the waiver of any default subsequently made. And provided that such default and distribution shall not release the party of the second part from the obligations of this contract or from any lawful claim for damages for the non-fulfillment thereof.


Article 5. The trustees shall not be liable for the default or misconduct of each other, nor for the default or misconduct of any agent or attorney selected by them in good faith in the discharge of their trust.


And the Purchaser at any sale made by them of any of the lands aforesaid shall not be liable for the application of the purchase money and shall not be under any necessity of inquiring into the expediency or legality of any such sale.


Upon the death, resignation, or incapacity, or refusal to act of any of said trustees, the remaining trustee or trustees may fill such vacancy or vacancies, or without filling the same shall act with the same power as the original trustees could have done if their number had remained undiminished.


Upon the filling of any vacancy the title to all the lands and things remaining unconveyed shall vest in the trustees thus constituted without the necessity of any formal conveyance, but each trustee shall bind himself, his heirs, executors and administrators to execute such deed for the continuance of the trust as Counsel learned in the law may reasonably advise or require; and the original conveyances to said trustees shall be made accordingly.


In witness whereof the parties aforesaid have hereunto set their hands and seals the day and year first above written.


Frank A. Kimball. (Seal)

Kidder, Peabody & Co. (Seal)

B. P. Cheney. (Seal)

Geo. B. Wilbur. (Seal)

Lucius G. Pratt. (Seal)

Thos. Nickerson. (Seal)


Recorded at the request of Frank A. Kimball, October 27, 1880, at 35 min. past 10 o’clock A. M.


Gilbert Rennie,

County Recorder.

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