Gilded Footnotes: November 11, 1897 – DRIVES IN THE SPIKE OF GOLD

November 11, 2014 § Leave a comment

I still have yet to come down on the official naming of this new series, but let this be the second post in “Gilded Footnotes” an expression of news of the day in 1890s San Francisco and California. The purpose is one part research and one part curatorial.

From the San Francisco Call, November 11, 1897: [1]

DRIVES IN THE SPIKE OF GOLD, reads the headline:

Sierra Railway Christened by Prince Poniatowski – Jamestown Enjoys a Holiday – Five Thousand People Celebrate the Completion of the Line – Oratory, A Dance and Fireworks – Head of the Company Presents a Money Gift to the Terminal City’s School

On November 10, “The golden spike was driven…signaling the completion of the line to” Jamestown, California – some 45 miles northeast of the Central Valley town of Modesto, California. More than 5000 people attend the celebration, and according to the Call, “never before did the streets of Jamestown present such an animated appearance. This would be the first major rail line into the heart of the southern region of Gold Country – just a few miles from the Tuolumne County seat of Sonora. The Sierra Road would connect Oakdale to Emery, Warnerville, Coopertown, Don Pedro, Chinese Camp, Montezuma, all the way to Jamestown. (see map)

Map of Sierra Road from Oakdale to Jamestown, California. The San Francisco Call, November 11, 1897

Map of Sierra Road from Oakdale to Jamestown, California. The San Francisco Call, November 11, 1897. [1]

With the “warning whistle…verberating among the hills at 11o’clock,” flocks of residents came from the hills into town. The ceremonies were directed by W. W. Booth, editor of the Mother Lode. As the Call reports, the president “welcomed the visitors in a neatly turned speech, extending the freedom of the town and vouching for the heartiest hospitality of the citizens.” By which Booth then introduced Prince Poniatowski, “president of the road,” who after a short speech, “took a maul in hand and drove the golden spike” signaling the completion of the rail line. The orator of the day, H. George Reader, “delivered an eloquent address. The theme came to represent “the great influence of railways on civilization and the future of Jamestown and Sonora, and eulogized the enterprise of their citizens.” The celebration was closed with races, games, fireworks, and other pyrotechnics.

The Sierra Road would not only link Tuolumne County to the broader Central Valley economy, but it would also strengthen the hinterland connection to San Francisco. The inaugural train would not come from Oakdale, Stockton, or even Sacramento, but San Francisco. [2]

 

 

References:

[1] The San Francisco call. (San Francisco [Calif.]), 11 Nov. 1897. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers. Lib. of Congress. <http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn85066387/1897-11-11/ed-1/seq-2/>

[2] The record-union. (Sacramento, Calif.), 11 Nov. 1897. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers. Lib. of Congress. <http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn82015104/1897-11-11/ed-1/seq-8/>

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