San Mateo County Genealogical Society's Blog featuring society events, projects, meeting notes and other items of relevance to genealogists.

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

The Railroad

The Pacific and Atlantic Railroad Company was incorporated on September 6, 1851.  The route was surveyed and published by the end of 1851.
William J Lewis - San Francisco 1851 http://hdl.loc.gov/loc.gmd/g4362s.rr005100
Unable to raise funds locally, they turned to banking houses in New York and New England for funds.  Those institutions turned them down, stating they needed to raise local capital first.

The company tried again.  They reorganized on October 29, 1853, just before the expiration of the original construction permit, $2,000,000 of stock was authorized for sale.  Unfortunately, a downturn in the economy again scared investors away.   There after all notices of the Pacific Atlantic Railroad appear to be focused on just that, a railroad from the Atlantic to the Pacific Coasts.

Daily Alta California, Volume 4, Number 333, 22 December 1853 


By 1857, the public sentiment suggested it was time for a railroad along the San Francisco Peninsula.  The  San Francisco and San Jose Railroad Company was incorporated in late 1859.  They intended to raise public funds by putting a referendum to the voters of the three counties served (San Francisco, San Mateo, and Santa Clara).  The goal was to raise $600,000 by the sale of bonds. A law was passed by the State Legislature and signed by Governor Dewey on 21 Apr 1860 allowing the referendum and allowing for an interest tax to cover the cost of interest on the bonds for a period of twenty years. 

Newpapers reported this as  "an attempted fraud upon the tax-payers of the counties" and the company dissolved in June 1860.
Daily Alta California, Volume 12, Number 167, 16 June 1860 


A new San Francisco and San Jose Railroad incorporated on August 18, 1860 with San Francisco industrialist Peter Donahue stepping in as treasurer, choosing his friends Judge Timothy Dame as president and Henry Newhall, a successful San Francisco auctioneer, as vice-president, and placing the company headquarters in San Francisco. Donahue, Dame and Newhall are thus credited as the three co-founders of the line.


  1.  Daily Alta California, Volume 4, Number 24, 24 January 1853 — San Jose Railroad 
  2. Railroad Law Daily Alta California, Volume 12, Number 118, 28 April 1860
  3. Dissolution of the San Francisco and San Jose Railroad Company
  4. San Francisco and San Jose Railroad - Wikipedia  

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