Transcontinental Railroad

1866 First Attempt to make it through Alameda Cañon

These two documents talk about this attempt:

1866 photo from NPS document, an original from Ardenwood? This is apparently "Dead Cow Curve".

"Dead Cow Curve" is approximately where the "N" in Niles Canyon Rd. is located. When looking at an aerial photo, the curve is the largest seen in canyon.

Transcontinental Railroad in Alameda Cañon

Much has been written about this section of railroad. Read about it here:

The Golden Spike ceremony and the "last" spike

Where was the "last" spike actually driven?

The Promontory Utah Golden Spike ceremony was celebrated on May 10, 1869. However, the portion to the San Francisco bay from Stockton had not been completed at that time. The first through train from Alameda was September 6.

The last section to be completed was Stockton to Alameda. The work proceeded from Vallejo's Mills, through the Livermore Valley, through the Livermore tunnel, and to the San Joaquin River. (The Stockton to San Joaquin section needs to be followed in the newspapers as does the completion to Alameda. The completion to Alameda and then subsequent completion two months later at the Oakland Mole need to be followed, too.).

The connection was at the San Joaquin River at the location of present day Mossdale Park near Lathrop, says the PressReader.

And then really, there was the matter of crossing the Missouri River, so perhaps they get credit for the "Last" spike.

Timeline from the news and elsewhere:

From a overall timeline

  • 2 October 1866 The WPRR completed construction of its first twenty miles in 1866. Amusing tale "Curse of Dead Cow Curve".
  • 8 May 1869 Fourteen out of 26 miles completed - Encinal to Vallejo Mills.
  • 8 May 1869 Battle of Chinese workers (See Yup and Yung Wo companies) at Victory, Utah. Strobridge and others intercede.
  • 8 May 1869 Second Despatch
  • 10 May 1869 Golden Spike Ceremony
  • 10 May 1869 SF celebrations
  • 15 May 1869 despatch from the Bee dated May 10th Mrs. Strobridge helped Gov. Stanford drive one of the last spikes?!
  • 5 June 1869 J. H. Strobridge, who became widely known in consequence of his successful management of the Central Pacific tracklayers and graders during the time that road was in course of construction, left the city for San Francisco yesterday afternoon by the steamer Yosemite with a number of men, horses, grading and camp tools, etc., he being about to commence work upon the branch of the Western Pacific Railroad leading from Vallejo Mills to Oakland. Speaking of the Western Pacific Railroad, we learn that Turton, Knox &. Ryan have detached a large number of their men from the Livermore Pass vicinity and set them grading and tracklaying on the lower end of the road, commencing twenty miles from San Jose, at the end of the section completed by the former owners of the franchise, and working up Alameda Canyon into Livermore Valley. Large quantities of iron are being shipped from San Francisco to Warm Springs Landing, Alameda county, to be laid upon that end of the road. It is probable that the tracklayers working from the eastern and western ends will meet at or near the San Joaquin river. The grading at Livermore Pass including operations upon the tunnel — will be done, it is estimated, about the 1st of August. Turton, Knox & Ryan have about 2,000 men at work.
  • 10 June 1989 Chinese workman and Strobridge
  • 12 June 1869 American Railroad Journal, Livermore Tunnel. "One tunnel of 1,162 feet, has been driven at each end...There is but one longer tunnel than this on the whole line of the Central Pacific." Really?
  • 19 June 1869 - "The Alameda Gazette says : The idea now prevails that the Western Pacific Railroad will, in addition to the track down the valley, take an air line from Vallejo's Mills across the bay, thence down the bay shore to San Francisco. This view is strengthened by the fact that Captain Swett, the pile drivist, is about to commence the erection of a wharf on the Forbes’ place, lately purchased by Loyd Tevis, on the bay shore below Centreville. The knowing ones are freely betting suits of clothes and “sich” that the track will cross the bay at that point."
  • 26 June 1869 - "WORK ON THE WESTERN PACIFIC.—There are 600 men at work near Vallejo Mills, where there is a mile and a half requiring considerable cutting and filling. About 100 men are preparing the road between the Mills and San Jose. "
  • 25 July 1869 "WESTERN PACIFIC RAILROAD. The Last Link in the line from New York to San Francisco Approaching Completion— What has been Done and what Remains to do— The Cars from the Other Side of the Continent to be in Oakland by September First— Three Routes to Sacramento— The Question of the Final Terminus yet Unsettled -Etc. The public mind having become accustomed to look upon the completion of the Pacific Railroad from the Missouri River to the Sacramento are virtually the completion of the line from the Atlantic"... "Immense piles of railroad lies from the northern counties of California along the Pacific coast, and other lumber, rails, etc. have already been landed at Warm Springs' Embarcadero, near the Old Mission of San José. Messrs. Turton, Knox & Ryan have upwards of 2,000 men at work on their portion of the line; most of these men are Chinamen, but there are several hundred white men. Mr. Strobridge has about 500 Chinamen and a few white men at work between the Junction and Oakland. On this road, as on the Central Pacific, the Chinamen are found to work admirably; no rows, no strikes, no dictation of terms to employers under threats of violence, and in fact nothing but square out work with no nonsense. Everything is moving along like clock-work, and there is no delay or confusion anywhere…”"
  • 29 July 1869 - monopoly, Sacramento....
  • 1 August 1869 - " A hole was out through the Livermore Tunnel last night, enough to admit the passage of a man from either side."
  • 7 August 1869 - "The Railroad tunnel at Livermore Pass is near completion. "
  • 13 August 1869 "The Western Pacific Railway"
  • 14 August 1869 "It is reported that the Western Pacific Railroad Company has paid as high as $3OOO per acre lor land adjoining San Lorenzo. The general average price paid between Vallejo’s Millsand San Leandro is $l5O per acre. "
  • 14 August 1869 - Vallejo, the town, not the mills, but mentions "There is at present a considerable force of Chinamen in raising this grade four feet higher"
  • 15 Aug. 1869 To Pleasanton
  • 18 Aug. 1869 "STOCKTON, August 18th. The track of the Western Pacific Railroad works, eastward from the Vallejo mills was finished to Laddsville to-day. It will reach the mouth ot Livermore Pass by Saturday next. Large quantities of grain await transportation at Moore's Landing and along tbe river banks. This grain has boon raised on the west side of tbe San Joaquin river and in Livermore Valley. Ten hundred and twenty-nine tons of wheat were shipped from this port to-day."
  • 18 Aug. 1869 Livermore tunnel finished today
  • 19 Aug. 1869 The track of the WesternPacific Railroad works, eastward from the Vallejo mills was finished to Laddsville to-day. It will reach the mouth ot Livermore Pass by Saturday next. Large quantities of grain await transportation at Moore's Landing and along tbe river banks. This grain has boon raised on the west side of the San Joaquin river and in Livermore Valley. Ten hundred and twenty-nine tons of wheat were shipped from this port to-day.
  • 23 Aug. 1869 4 miles from tunnel
  • 28 Aug. 1869 The tunnel at Livermore Pass is completed. The railroad is running now from Vallejo's Mills to Pleasanton; a large force is now at work at the San Joaquin river bridge.
  • 31 Aug. 1869 The track laying, working eastward, and the Western Pacific road, entered San Joaquin county this afternoon and are now within thirteen miles of the river.
  • 7 September 1869 first train
  • 7 September 1869 (Daily Alta California, Volume 21, Number 7110, 7 September 1869) first train yesterday, September 6!
  • 8 September 1869 Train to Sacramento
  • 11 September 1869 Opening of the Western Pacific Railroad.
  • 12 September 1869 The True History of the Pacific Railroad
  • 14 September 1869 The Pioneers Excursion to the East
  • 16 September 1869 Departure of the Pioneer Excursion Party
  • 18 September 1869 A number of Chinese laborers arrived yesterday for the California and Oregon Railroad. We are informed that 200 will arrive during this week, 300 more next week, and 1,000 during the month. The Western Pacific Railroad having been completed the Chinese laborers employed thereon are being transferred to the California and Oregon, and the Stockton and Tulare Railroads. The arrival of these Chinese laborers gives assurance that the railroad to Oregon is to be built speedily. We shall also soon be able to determine whether the Company have purchased the Oroville Railroad or intend to construct the road direct to Chico. The locality of grading will determine this mooted point.
  • 23 Sept. 1869 another trip from sac to sf, still vallejo mills.
  • 18 Nov. 1869 great bull fight at livermore station
  • 28 Nov. 1869 two trains collide Vallejo Mills. Will Niles Junction result?
  • 3 Dec. 1869 Alameda to Livermore - first hand account of the towns
  • 6 Dec. 1869 Livermore to valley
  • 31 Dec. 1869 "Among the first results of the opening of the railroad with the East was an influx of runners to sell Chicago goods by sample at prices wonderfully cheap. Tailors' emisaries, in particular, ran about, tape in hand, ready to take measures, and supply " firstclass suits," made to order, at a price in greenbacks less than gold rates here. Many listened to the voice of the charmer, and indulged great expectations, until the railroad brought them a mass of slop work, cut in the wonderful fashions of some bygone ago, and of dimensions suited to the Cardiff Giant. "
  • 20 Jan. 1870 From a straying healdsburger
  • 22 Jan. 1870 delivery of Alta California to Niles station
  • 28 Apr. 1870 station known as San Jose junction will no longer be stopping place. Niles instead.
  • 22 May 1870 "The Picnic" Niles and Pleasanton becoming excursion places.
  • 14 June 1870 Decoto gets its name, cherries as big as 3" in circumference.
  • 5 Sep. 1870 John S. Garland, general passenger agent of tbe Indianapolis and St. Louis Railroad, passed east this morning. He loft San Francisco by tbe Western Pacific Railroad, on Sunday morning, and is the Brat through passenger Irom San Francisco by rail.
  • 29 Sep. 1870 Pomological society detained at Niles, saw huge horsechestnut and a group of chinese workers. Llewelling, Patterson, did they see the big bay in san lorenzo. Woodward's gardens.
  • 23 Nov. 1870 Niles station bridge destroyed by fire
  • 21 Oct. 1870 A different Niles I think, older husband, young wife, young friend, horses, and train chase.
  • 21 Nov. 1870 Judge Niles
  • 29 Dec. 1870 Niles station on train schedule.