Thursday, February 19, 2009

San Joaquin and Eastern Railroad

San Joaquin & Eastern Railroad
LocaleSierra Nevada foothills of Fresno County, California
Dates of operation1912–1933
Track gauge4 ft 8½ in (1,435 mm) (standard gauge)
HeadquartersLos Angeles, California

The San Joaquin & Eastern Railroad (SJ&E) was a standard gauge common carrier railroad that operated in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada Mountains of Fresno County in the U.S. state of California. The line was abandoned in 1933. The railroad hauled primarily lumber and agricultural products.


[edit] History

San Joaquin & Eastern Railroad at Huntington Lake c. 1918

The SJ&E was originally built to get men and supplies to the Big Creek Hydroelectric Project and Dam for the Pacific Light and Power Company (now Southern California Edison). The track was constructed for $1,055,728 by a railroad contractor named Stone & Webster Company and grading commenced on February 16, 1912 and construction was completed on December 15, 1912. The 55 mile line started at El Prado (near Friant where it interchanged with the Southern Pacific Railroad. The SP branch continued on to Fresno where it intercepted the SP Mainline. From El Prado the line went east to Auberry and then terminated at Big Creek (Cascade/Cascada).

The railroad was known as the “crookedest railroad in the world”. The railroad featured 1073 curves up to 60 degrees. The railroad had 43 wooden trestles and 255 steep grades with the steepest at 5.3%.

The track was abandoned and dismantled in 1933 amid the Great Depression.

[edit] Route

  • El Prado MP 0.0 (near Friant) (Interchange with Southern Pacific Railroad)

  • Marshall

  • Wellbarn MP 16.1

  • Prather

  • Auberry MP 26.1

  • Lerona MP 34.9

  • White Pine MP 43.0

  • West Portal MP 50.4 (with a 1-mile branch north to Powerhouse 2 on the San Joaquin River)

  • Dawn (Interchange with the Shaver Lake Railroad

  • Big Creek (Cascada) MP 55.6

  • Camp 2

  • Dam 2 (of Huntington Lake)

[edit] Passenger Service

The railroad owned 5 passenger cars and the railroad's October 10, 1915 timetable showed an 8:00 a.m. departure from El Prado, arriving at Cascada at 2:25 p.m. The 55 mile trip operating on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays and returns on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays. Passenger service continued as late as 1929. Some of the passenger traffic was attributed to tourists going to the resort at Huntington Lake during the summer.

[edit] References

  • Fickewirth, Alvin A. (1992). California Railroads: an encyclopedia of cable car, common carrier, horsecar, industrial, interurban, logging, monorail, motor road, shortlines, streetcar, switching and terminal railroads in California (1851-1992). San Marino, California: Golden West Books. pp. 45, 140. ISBN 0-87095-106-8. 

  • Johnston, Hank (1965). California The Railroad that Lighted Southern California: The Story of the Edison Big Creek Project San Joaquin and Eastern. Los Angeles, California: Trans-Anglo Books. ASIN B000GX1GHM. 

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