The Journal of San Diego History
Summer 1995, Volume 41, Number 3
Richard W. Crawford, Editor



The disappointment felt by San Diegans when the Atcheson, Topeka & Santa Fe re-routed its railroad and made San Diego the end of a spur line, proved to be well founded. Events since 1885 had only served to reinforce the need for a direct line to the east. In 1905, a sugar-refining millionaire from San Francisco, John D. Spreckels, put up the necessary capital to form the San Diego & Arizona Railway. Spreckels had already made a significant impact on San Diego through numerous commercial ventures and civic projects which literally rescued the city from a faltering economy following the bust of 1888. His assessment of a direct line east and its importance to the San Diego area led him to finance what otherwise would have been impossible. Railroads had their own interests at heart and were rarely civic-minded. The difficulties posed by construction of a railroad through long stretches of desert and over rugged mountains made it financially impractical for the railroad companies. Spreckels, on the other hand, was both civic-minded and wealthy. With his millions, nothing was impossible. It took 13 years, but, finally, in 1919, the San Diego & Arizona Railway was completed. At last, San Diego had its direct line to the east.