Tuesday, March 04, 2008


Many Facts Per March 4, 1905 Scientific American

1879 Solano Carried First Train
1905 Solano Rebuilt to handle larger and heavier trains
1915 Contra Costa added to run
1916 Solano Rebuilt to handle larger and heavier trains
1929 Benicia-Martinez Railroad Bridge construction started
1930 Bridge finished, Last Sailing of the Solano
1931 Solano sunk as a breakwater near Antioch, California (she is still there today).

Length: 424 feet (length of deck with 4 tracks)
Width over guards: 116 feet, 8 inches
Registered Tonnage: 3549 Tons
Draws (1905): 6 feet, 4 inches light; 10 feet, 7 inches loaded
Steam Engines: Two independent Vertical Walking Beam Engines each having a 5 foot diameter piston and an eleven foot up and down stroke developing 2,252 HP each
Paddle Wheels: Two independent wheels each 30 feet in diameter (as high as a commercial 3 story building), with a 24 inch diameter shaft and 24 buckets
Boilers: Eight Boilers (6 in use, 2 being serviced while boat was transporting trains)
Steering: Four rudders at each end of the boat, controlled by a steering lever in each pilot house which operates a valve and uses a steam driven hydraulic pump to move a piston connected to the rudders.
Capacity: Two Pacific 4-6-2 locomotives (SP P-1, P-3, P-4 & P-5’s), 17 or 18 heavy-weight Pullman sleeper and baggage cars and the “Boat Goat” (0-6-0 switcher)
Crew: Two Crews of 17 men each, working 12 hour shifts

Location: Carried entire trains across the Carquinez Strait between Benicia and Port Costa, California, on the Central Pacific and the Southern Pacific mainline connecting Sacramento with Oakland (San Francisco), California on the extension of the original Transcontinental Railroad.
Description: 1 mile crossing, 8 foot average tide, 13 foot extreme tide, 8 miles per hour bi-directional current. Fog was of main concern.

Probably the busiest train ferry in the world:
In 1904 she handled approximately 115,000 freight cars and 56,000 passenger cars in one year. (that is averaging 315 freight cars and 153 passenger cars daily, 365 days a year).
In 1904 she was making thirty six to forty six crossings every 24 hours (that’s averaging a trip every 31 to 40 minutes, day and night, seven days a week, 365 days a year).
October 8, 1909, Time Table shows 23 scheduled passenger trains crossing on the Solano per day.


Transcontinental Trains San Francisco – Ogden – Omaha - Chicago

Overland Flyer
Overland Express
Overland Limited
San Francisco Overland Limited
Atlantic Express
Pacific Express
California Express
Gold Coast Limited

San Francisco – Nevada

Tonopoh Express
Nevada Express

San Francisco – Portland, Oregon

Oregon Express
Portland Express
San Francisco Express
Shasta Limited

San Francisco - Sacramento

Sacramento Passenger
Sacramento & Oroville Passenger
Sacramento Local
Fast Mail
Bay City Local
Ridorado Flyer
Eldorado Flyer
Fort Sutter

"Solano Facts" and Solano Model Images Courtesy of Bill Rubarth.




Blogger CPRR Discussion Group said...

Also see the Solano Model Video.

3/04/2008 5:56 PM  
Blogger CPRR Discussion Group said...

From: "Bill Rubarth" billr@giffinusa.com

Attached are the Benicia Herald articles concerning the Solano Crews and some other interesting stuff.



Dec 27, 1900 A Southern Pacific Employee Run Over by the Cars
Last Saturday evening shortly before 5 o’clock and as the Atlantic Express was being taken on to the ferry Solano while on the Port Costa side, a frightful accident occurred that cost Gus Anderson, a deck hand of the ferry, his lower limbs and it is feared his life. As the last section of the train was being backed onto the ferry Mr. Anderson was standing on the track, seemingly watching the moving cars on the track. Warnings from several who noticed his danger were given, but he seemed confused and cars struck him, passing over his legs just below the knees. He was taken to the station and the railroad physician summoned, who performed the amputations and did all possible for his relief. He survived the operation and in the morning was taken to the railroad hospital at Oakland, where he now lies in a very critical condition. Late reports say he is yet alive, but hopes for his recovery are not of the most encouraging nature.
Mr. Anderson is about 53 years of age and has a wife who was at the hospital in San Francisco for treatment at the time of the accident.
We understand a purse is being gathered by employees of the ferry Solano, in aid of their unfortunate associate.

Jan 30,1902 Importance of the Ferry Solano
An illustration of the importance of the ferry Solano in freight and passenger traffic on the Southern Pacific line here was manifested the first of the week, when the rudders on one end of the steamer gave way and had to be replaced with new ones. The accident occurred Saturday evening and travel was somewhat damaged until Tuesday morning. While the company managed to transfer passenger trains in the day time, much delay was occasioned by the necessity of turning the ferry completely around while out in the stream, to allow the remaining rudders to perform the duties of the disabled ones. All freight and several passenger trains were run by way of Stockton and passengers to San Francisco changed at Suisun and passed through South Vallejo. Benicia passengers were transferred from Port Costa in rowboats after six o’clock p.m., as no attempt was made to run the ferry after dark. The damage, while quite difficult, was repaired Tuesday morning, but the old time schedule is yet affected.

Several Unfortunate Happenings on the Railroad.
Benicia and vicinity has been the scene of several very unfortunate accidents this past week, the most disastrous being a head on collision between two freight trains just inside of the railroad yards here early last Thursday morning, in which the engineer and fireman of one of the trains were instantly killed and a brakeman of the same train inured so severely his recovery is doubtful. The cause, from testimony at the coroner’s inquest, was due to the fact that the engineer of the incoming train must have fallen asleep. The crew on the other train saved their lives by jumping. The engines were wrecked and several cars demolished, but as a number of switches were located where the accident took place the wreckage was soon removed and traffic resumed with out delay.

Car Repairer Injured.
A car repairer named Edward Clark had a narrow escape from death the same afternoon on the Steamer “Solano.” He was hanging on the side irons of a freight car riding onto the boat when the second section of the train was run along side so near he was caught between the cars, receiving severe injuries to his back and one leg. He was taken to the railroad hospital and hopes are entertained for his recovery.

Steamer “Solano” Adrift.
While on her way across the straits Monday night from Port Costa, the steamer Solano, with two heavy trains aboard, became unmanageable and drifted onto the mud flats on this side of the straits. There are several rumors afloat regarding the exact cause of the difficulty, but the fact is known that the passengers on the Oregon express were subjected to quite a fright, and instead of being landed here at the scheduled time 10 o’clock p. m., it was one o’clock Tuesday morning before they reached terra firma. There was a little excitement at first, but when the passengers saw that their lives were not endangered by the mishap, they took the accident as philosophically as they could, the through passengers retiring to their berths, leaving the local passengers to sit up and grumble at the delay.
We understand, that Captain Morton, who was in command of the Solano, has tendered his resignation, and Captain John Fahrenholtz, a former first mate of the ferry, has been transferred here to fill the vacancy for the present. Captain Morton has been a commander of the Solano since it was placed on the straits, over twenty three years, and it is with regret that he resigns on account of an accident that would undoubtedly have been overlooked.

July 22, 1904 THE FERRY SOLANO.
Railroad Company Will Make Many Repairs.
The Oakland Tribune is authority for the following extract on the repairs to be made on the ferry Solano:
The big railroad ferryboat Solano, which for nearly thirty years has carried the Southern Pacific passenger trains on the Ogden and Shasta routes across the Straits of Carquinez, between Port Costa and Benicia, is to be taken off that run and overhauled. The Solano is beginning to feel effects of its constant day and night battling with the swift currents of the straits to such an extent that the Southern Pacific construction department has decided to almost rebuild and refit the boat.
In all her history the Solano has rarely lain idle. The boat, which is the largest railroad ferry in the world, each day in the year transports regularly across the straits from sixteen to twenty passenger trains, many of them in several sections. Her fires are kept up from one year’s end to another. She encounters all kind of weather, and every day is forced to struggle with the violent currents caused on the one hand by pouring of the tides through the narrow straits of Carquinez and on the other by the rush of the combined waters of the Sacramento and San Joaquin rivers.
The strain necessarily tells on the boat and now she is to have new planking, new engines, condensers and eight new boilers. Four hundred thousand feet of lumber will be necessary for the repairs to her woodwork. The Solano is to go on the new marine ways now building at the foot of Peralta street, and will be the first boat to be repaired there. Her weight is enormous and will provide a good test of the capacity of the new ways.
While the Solano is undergoing repairs her place in the straits will taken by the bay freight ferry Transit which is now being overhauled and adapted to the work of transporting the heavy trains. The Transit’s cattle corrals are being removed and a temporary lunch counter will be put in. The change will take place as soon as the Transit is ready to the run.

Sep 9, 1904
The old ferry “Solano” seems to be the brunt of every news-gatherer along the bay of late. Every time news gets scarce some paper starts the item that the ferry is to be taken off the run in October to undergo repairs, and all the other papers follow suite. Watch The Herald, boys, and we’ll put you on when she has departed for the Oakland ways. The boat is still doing business at the old stand.

Nov 4, 1904
The President has issued the Thanksgiving day proclamation setting aside Thursday, November 24,”to be observed as a day of festival and thanksgiving by all the people of the United States at home and abroad.”

An enlarged crayon portrait of the steamer Solano is exhibited in one of Anderson & Chisholm’s store windows. It was enlarged from a photograph taken by S. A. Gray during the Christian Endeavor Convention several years ago. It is a very good likeness and fifty years from now will be a valuable relic of bygone days a Benicia.

Feb 3, 1905 OFF DUTY.
Ferry Solano Goes to Oakland for Overhauling.
The Southern Pacific Company’s ferry steamer “Solano” which has transferred trains across Carquinez straits for nearly thirty years past, was taken to Oakland Wednesday of this week where it will under go a complete overhauling and receive new machinery. Capt. John Fahrenholtz, whose turn it was on watch, guided the old boat down to the shipyards. He left the Benicia slip with the Sacramento passenger train No. 17, aboard at 9 o’clock, and after safely landing it on the other side of the straits, a farewell blast was blown from the old whistle, and the ferry steamed down the channel. Both night and day crews were aboard, accompanying the vessel to her destination, where the company made arrangements to give them employment. We understand that provision will also be made for the engineers, firemen and switchmen made idle by removal of the ferry.
During the absence of the Solano our traveling public will have the accommodation of four daily trains, two outgoing and two incoming. Through the efforts of Mayor Crooks the railroad company has also kindly placed a gasoline launch on the run between Benicia and Port Costa, which will make connection with the local trains at Port Costa. This will give our people nearly as good service as formerly.
The company’s main line passengers and freight traffic will now run by way of Stockton and Tracey, the congestion being relieved by transferring westbound passengers at Suisun and eastbound at Vallejo Junction.
While Benicia loses by the absence of quite a number of her citizens for the next few months, the financial loss will be sight, as the homes will be maintained just the same. Our merchants will undoubtedly be benefited by a lesser travel to San Francisco.
The ferry Solano was off duty for four months in 1895, at which time needed repairs were made to the main deck and boilers. This time she will be placed in first-class condition and equipped with machinery which will render her much more efficient in the discharge of her important duties.
The Steamer Solano has seen service since January, 1880, and up to the last day of December of last year she had made 238,198 trips between Port Costa and Benicia. She has been on the dry-dock but once during her twenty-five years of service. She is considered by railroad officials to be the most successful boat of her class to-day. In 1903 she transferred 800,000 overland passengers and 2,000,000 tons of freight.
The boat is 404 feet in length along the water line and 424 along the deck. She has 117 feet of beam. She has two beam engines and eight steel boilers. Her capacity is 48 freight cars and tonnage of 3750.

Mar 10, 1905 STEAMER SOLANO.
Interesting Notes on the Largest Ferryboat in the World.
The following authentic report of the ferry Solano by H. E. Wright was taken from last Saturday’s issue of Scientific American. The notes were accompanied by three very fine half-tone portraits showing the ferry entering a slip, loaded in midstream and a view looking along the deck, showing her four tracks.
“The steamer Solano, the largest ferryboat in the world, crosses the Straits of Carquinez, carrying the trains of the Southern Pacific between Port Costa, Contra Costa County, and Benicia, Solano County, California. She was built in 1879 and launched in November of the same year. Her construction resembles that of a large scow, stiffened lengthwise by four wooden trusses, one under each of her four tracks. Her hull measures 61 feet 10 inches in beam and 116 feet 8 inches over the guards. She is a double-ender, with four balanced rudders at each end, controlled by hydraulic steering gear. The Solano is propelled by two simple walking beam engines of low pressure. Each engine has a 60-inch cylinder with an 11-foot stroke, and its horsepower is 2,252. Each engine drives one wheel, and works independently of the other. The wheels are 30 feet in diameter, and each has twenty-four buckets.
The Steamer has eight steel boilers, 24 feet 10 inches long and 84 inches in diameter, and carrying 40 pounds steam pressure. Six of these boilers are in use every day. Once in three weeks two are laid off, when the scale that has accumulated is removed with crude soda. Petroleum is used for fuel. Every twenty-four hours 8,300 gallons are consumed. The tanks hold 8,300 gallons. It takes 50 minutes to fire up.
The Solano has 424 feet of deck length and 406 feet 7 inches on her keel. Her registered tonnage is 3,549 tons. Approximately, she has been handling 115,000 freight cars 56,000 passenger cars a year. She is double-crewed with seventeen men in each crew, and runs night and day, making thirty-six to forty-six crossings in twenty-four hours.
The length of her trip is one mile. The average time of transfer including time to cut trains, place them on the boat, cross the straits, unload, and couple on the other side, is about eleven minutes. Road engines handle one cut on and off the boat; a switch engine handles the other cut. The boat draws, light 6 feet 4 inches, but draws 10 feet 7 inches when loaded.
The hinged steel aprons, weighing 190 tons, over which the cars are transferred from the dock to the boat, are four track spans, 100 feet long. These are controlled by air tight pontoons and counter-weights which are handled by hydraulic power from pressure pumps located on the boat itself, connection being by means of pipes and ordinary air-hose coupling.
As the boat enters the slip, the counter-weights are raised by hydraulic power, leaving part of the apron unbalanced. This sinks the pontoon. The apron descends to the level of the deck, the end fits into a recess on the boat and is firmly latched down. The counter-weights are released, and the apron and the boat are free to rise and fall with the tide.”

April 28,1905 SOLANO LAUNCHED.
Ferryboat to Go Into Commission on May 3rd.
The Giant Solano, the largest ferryboat in the world, was launched from the Southern Pacific Marine Railway at Oakland yesterday morning at 6:40, and she is now ready to resume her old run across Carquines straits.
The big boat has been on the dry dock for last three months, and has been almost rebuilt. She has been fitted with new paddle wheels and new boilers, and the engines have been completely overhauled and repaired.
The Solano will return to Benicia under her own steam, and will go into commission on May 3rd.
The launching yesterday was in charge of William McKenzie, superintendent of steamers, and Henry Bruce, general foreman of shipyards of the Southern Pacific Company.
S.F. Call.

May 5, 1905 IN COMMISSION.
Ferry Solano Welcomed Back to Duties.
After an absence of three months undergoing repairs at Oakland, the Southern Pacific Company’s steamer “Solano” is making her regular trips across Carquinez straits between Benicia and Port Costa. She steamed up the straits last Sunday afternoon, accompanied by a tugboat, which left her in mid stream opposite Port Costa. With the tooting of whistles and ringing of bells all along the bay shore, she steamed into her berth on the Benicia side where half of our population, it seemed, was congregated along the wharves to extend their welcome. It was a pleasing site to watch the giant vessel coming home. The huge steel propelling shafts and her newly painted hull glistened in the sunlight. She remained on the Benicia side but a short time, leaving for Port Costa where a crew of joiners and painters were taken on board to put on the finishing touches.
The Solano went into commission at 3 o’clock Wednesday morning and her familiar whistle can be heard at frequent intervals.
The return of the Solano means the return of thirty-five citizens who have been absent from town during the past three months. They are gladly welcomed home and from all reports many of them are glad to again be at home. Several changes have occurred in the ferry’s crew and a brief mention will be of interest at this time. The crew of the Solano, including the day and night shifts, is composed as follows: 2 captains, 2 first mates, 2 second mates, 6 engineers, 10 firemen, 16 deck hands, and 1 watchman. Capt. John Fahrenholtz has been transferred to a train barge running between Oakland and San Francisco. His transfer left a vacancy which has been ably filled by the promotion of Fist Mate John C. Hoffman, who has rendered the Southern Pacific Company valiant service for over twenty years. David Elson will be his first mate and John Svenn, second mate. William Wright is senior captain. His first mate is Harry Williams and John O. Peterson, second mate. Joseph Peterson, who has been the company’s faithful watchman for many years past, has been retired and pensioned according to the rules adopted by the railroad company some years ago. Mr. Peterson has passed the age of three score years and ten and his many friends are glad to learn that he is to be provided for. The vacancy caused by Mr. Peterson’s retirement will be filled by Mr. Andrew Westerberg, another pioneer resident of this city. Four new men came to Benicia with the return of the Solano as deck hands. They are Chas. Jensen, Dan Neilsen, John Jacobson and Fred Lourin.

Mar 9, 1906
J.A. Harrington, steward on the Steamer Solano, returned to the Ripsom House this week from the railroad hospital where he had been receiving treatment for appendicitis.

Aug 17, 1906
Daniel McLaughlin, a fireman on the Solano, has been for several weeks a patient in the Railroad Hospital in Sacramento, where he underwent a critical operation.

Aug 31, 1906
The Southern Pacific Company has granted a raise of five dollars monthly in the salaries of the firemen on the Solano.

Sep 14, 1906
George Robins of Galesburg, Illinois, met with a serious accident at Port Costa Monday. He was sitting on the wharf with his feet hanging over watching some people fish, when the Solano came in. The big boat bumped the piles with great force and they crashed against Robins’ feet, injuring the left one so badly that it had to be amputated.

Two fishermen, a father and son, who reside in Martinez, had a narrow escape from drowning Sunday evening. They were drifting directly in the course of the Solano, when she came along, the big wheel catching their net and capsizing their boat. The wheel was stopped immediately and the Solano’s crew lowered a rope to the fishermen. The son succeeded in grasping it and getting aboard the Solano, but the father was unable to do so, and a life boat had to be lowered for him. He was unconscious when rescued, but soon recovered after means of resuscitation had been administered to him.

Sep 21, 1906
A telephone system has been installed on the ferry Solano, affording great convenience to the employees.

Nov 2, 1906
A force of painters is at work brightening up the steamer Solano. Our former citizen, J. M. Justice, now a resident of Oakland, is one of those who is doing the work.

Dec 14, 1906 HEAVY STORM.
“Sou’Easter” Does Much Damage Over the State.
In the memory of the oldest inhabitant there has not been as hard a wind storm as that which visited us last Monday. From early in the morning until about noon the storm raged, a heavy southeast gale accompanying torrents of rain.
As was the case with all towns in this section of the State, Benicia suffered considerable damage but nothing of a serious nature.
Several of the awnings along First street fell victims to the storm, and many fences around residences toppled over. The storm even got the better of the big ferry boat Solano. She was over an hour taking the nine o’clock train from here to Port Costa, but succeeded in entering the slip with no damage and no fear on the part of the passengers or crew after their enforced excursions around the bay.

Capt. Wright of the Solano States His Case
Last Friday Captain William Wright of the ferry steamer Solano appeared before O. F. Bolles, United States inspector of hulls, and John K. Bulger, United States inspector of boilers. As we all know the Solano carries transcontinental trains across Carquinez Straits, and the charge against Captain Wright is that on a trip made on November 13th, the galley doors on the Pullman cars were locked, contrary to the statutes, which provide that they shall be left open for the safety of passengers. The charge was made by Secretary Victor H. Metcalf, who happened to be at the time on his way back to Washington. When he noticed that the doors were locked, he inquired of the manager of the train as to the responsibility for this condition. He was told that the doors were locked on the orders of the Pullman Superintendent. However, as the captain is responsible for all such violations of the law on the boat, the arrest of Captain Wright was ordered.
At Friday’s hearing Captain Wright was accompanied by Joseph Foulds of the Southern Pacific Company. The Captain acknowledged that the door was closed, but said it was because the waiters had constantly to go through the passageway into which it opened, and to have it open would hinder their work. He stated that the vestibule door on the opposite side of the car was open. He said further that his duties as master of the boat fully occupied his time, as well as that of the chief officer, and that neither of them had leisure to look after Pullman car doors.
A more careful, capable and conscientious man than Captain Wright never steered a ship, is the opinion of the people of Benicia and of all others who have any acquaintance with him.
No date was set for a further hearing of the case.

Passes Away After Months of Suffering.
After a long and painful illness, Captain James Kellogg Remington passed to the world beyond last Wednesday morning at Fabiain Hospital, Oakland.
In Benicia Captain Remington was know to nearly everyone, for it was here he made his home for many years, faithfully guiding the steamer Solano on her daily trips across the straits.
The Solano made her first trip on November 24, 1879, and it was then that the deceased came to Benicia as the second captain of the steamer under Captain Morton. Previous to that time he served as mate on the steamer Capitol, and also filled a like position on the steamers Transit and Thoroughfare, plying between San Francisco and Oakland.
A few years ago Captain Remington was seized with the illness that finally resulted in his death. An infection of the nose caused him great suffering and compelled him to leave his duties for a time to seek medical advice in San Francisco. Later he was granted a transfer from his position as Captain of the Solano to a similar position on one of the San Francisco ferry boats, in order that he might be near his physician. He apparently disposed of the home he owned here and the family went to Oakland to reside. On account of the illness which gradually became more serious, the Southern Pacific Company recently placed the deceased Captain on the retired list.
To mourn the loss of a kind husband and father are a widow, Mrs. Lucy S. Remington, and three children, Mrs. Maud Thompson, Herbert and Orie Remington. Captain Remington’s loss will also be felt by a host of friends, who knew him as a man of genial, generous nature. He was a native of New Salem Mass., 62 years, 2 months, and 27 days old.
The funeral took place in Oakland this afternoon.

Mountainous Charge Dwindles to a Mole Hill.
Captain William Wright returned to his duties as master of the steamer Solano Tuesday morning. Supervising Inspector Bermingham, who has been attending the annual convention of the inspectors at Washington, tendered his decision in the appeal case of Captain Wright, stating that in his opinion the sentence of the local inspectors of boilers and hulls was too severe and he therefore reduced the penalty from a revocation of his license to a suspension of twenty days, commencing January 8th. The suspension ended Tuesday morning when all rejoiced to see the Captain once more at his accustomed post.
Thus ended an aggravating proceeding, the ridiculousness of which is now better understood than ever.
Captain Bermingham says in reducing the penalty:
“There seems to be some mitigating circumstances in Captain Wright’s case, as one of the vestibule doors of the dining car was permanently fastened by the railway company which employs him, but he does not appear to have protested against it, nor did he report the same to the local board.
“After due consideration of the case of the aprellant, I have reached the conclusion that the punishment meted to him by the local board is excessive.
“The decision of the local board in the case of Captain Wright is hereby set aside and in lieu thereof his license will stand suspended for a period of twenty days from and after January 8th.”
Colonist Rates to California.
Commencing March 1st and continuing daily to April 30th 1907, the following Colonist rates will be in effect on Southern Pacific Lines”
From Sioux City……$27.00
Council Bluffs……….25.00
St. Joseph……………25.00
Kansas City………… 25.00
Leavonworth……….. 25.00
Denver……………… 25.00
Houston…………….. 25.00
St. Louis……………. 30.00
New Orleans……….. 30.00
Peoria………………. 31.00
Memphis…………… 31.00
The cost of a ticket can be deposited at once with any Southern Pacific agent in California, and the ticket will be furnished to the passenger in the East, while these low rates are in effect.
G. T. Forsyth. D. F. and P. A. Cor. 13th and Franklin Sta., Oakland, Cal.
Phone Oakland 513

Feb 15, 1907 Fell Into Good Hands.
There is a saying that an honest man is the noblest work of God, and certainly the gentleman who lost a small fortune on the Solano last Monday should believe it.
At 7:10 in the evening of the day mentioned Timothy Haggerty, one of the deck hands, picked up on the Solano a purse containing $155 in greenbacks, notes worth $4735 and other valuable papers. He turned the purse over to Captain Wright, who sent a dispatch at once to Mr. Scott, Superintendent at Oakland pier. In the meantime the loser of the purse had called at the railroad office in Oakland and reported his loss, so he was informed of Captain Wright’s message. The purse was sent by express to Superintendent Scott and on Wednesday a twenty dollar gold piece was returned to Mr. Haggerty as a reward.
The purse was lost by a gentleman passenger on the overland limited, which the Solano landed at Port Costa at 6:05 p. m., so it lay on the deck over an hour before it was found.

Accident to Ferry Delays Train Traffic.
Last Sunday morning an accident happened to the steamer Solano that has crippled traffic considerably since. About eight o’clock as the boat was conveying the Oregon train to Port Costa the huge walking beam suddenly broke and fell, knocking out the head of the cylinder of the engine. The accident occurred while the boat was midway in the straits, and created quite an excitement among the passengers and train men. It is said that the colored porters were greatly frightened and immediately rushed for life preservers.
The boat succeeded in landing the train safely on the Port Costa side, but was obliged to remain in the slip until Tuesday morning, when a tug boat arrived to lend assistance in towing the big vessel across the straits. By this means the disabled steamer has been able to make regular trips with the local trains but all overland trains are going by way of Stockton and Tracy.
Luckily no one was injured by the accident, but the engineers, John McClain and Fred Smith, had narrow escapes.
The tug boat is in charge of Captain John Fahrenholtz.
It will be about six weeks before the damaged engine is again in running order, as the necessary machinery must come from the East.

Serious Accident
John Kay, the well known telegraph operator at Port Costa, met with quite a serious accident yesterday afternoon. After finishing his day’s work he boarded the tug boat that is assisting the Solano to come to his home in this city. When the boat neared the wharf on this side, he missed his footing in attempting to step ashore and fell a distance of about six feet between the piles. Several of his ribs were fractured and he was severely bruised. He was taken to the railroad hospital for treatment.

July 5, 1907
It is reported that the new cylinder for the steamer Solano will be completed in about two weeks. Since the accident to the steamer, the trips have been made so regularly with the aid of a tug that little inconvenience has been experienced by the traveling public. The only annoyance is the fact that the boat makes no trips after seven in the evening, and those who would like to tarry awhile in the bay cities have to make an early start for home.

July 26, 1907
Electric lights were placed on the steamer Solano this week for the accommodation for the mechanics who will install the new machinery. Night and day shifts will work putting in the machinery.

Aug 2, 1907
The new cylinder for the steamer Solano arrived last Saturday evening, and is now being installed by the good force of mechanics. It will be several days yet before the work is completed.

The steamer Solano ran into the Port Costa slip Monday morning breaking some piles on the south side and slightly damaging the bulwarks along the port bow of the steamer. There was a strong ebb tide running at the time and the huge steamer would not readily answer her helm.
The new cylinder for the steamer Solano arrived last Saturday evening, and is now being installed by the good force of mechanics. It will be several days yet before the work is completed.

Aug 9, 1907 Solano on Duty.
The steamer Solano is now running on schedule time, all repairs having been completed. Tuesday. This affords great satisfaction not only to the people of Benicia, but to the traveling public all over this section of the State. All through trains are now running this way. Whenever the Solano goes out of commission in any way, the general regret expressed is akin to that felt over an accident to a warm personal friend, and with her recovery there is always an equal measure of rejoicing.

Dec 20, 1907
In all departments of the Southern Pacific Company the forces are being reduced on account of the decrease in business.

The Southern Pacific offers a special rate of fare and on-third for the roundtrip to all points good from December 21 to January 2.

A. S. Parritt and wife will leave next week for a two weeks pleasure trip to Southern California. Mr. Parritt has been an engineer on the steamer Solano ever since she has been on the straits, and the Southern Pacific Company recognizes his services by granting him a deserved vacation. He has had the pleasure of seeing most of the important seaports of the world, and says he and his good wife are going to take every opportunity to enjoy the sights of the interior, especially those of the Golden State.

Dec 27, 1907 Accident to Solano.
We regret to note that Captain John Hoffman has been confined to his home by illness since the accident to the steamer Solano Tuesday evening. Captain Hoffman was at the helm, and about 7:30 o’clock started from the Benicia side with two overland trains on board. In the dense fog that prevailed it was impossible for the Captain to see his way to guide the vessel into the slip on the Port Costa side. After drifting about for two hours the big boat ran into the Southern Pacific coal bunkers and had her rudders torn away. It took until the following evening to make repairs, and in the meantime passengers were taken back and forth in a launch. The terrible strain and Captain Hoffman’s anxious solicitude for the safety of so many souls caused him to become ill, but we are glad to state that he is improving rapidly.

May 8, 1908
It is impossible for us to give the names of all the Beniciaites who saw the fleet this week. It would be an easier task to enumerate those who remained at home, for the town certainly had the appearance of a deserted village Wednesday. The business houses generally were closed, there was no traffic (if we except the sprinkling cart) and a Sabbath stillness reigned.

The good old Solano has been doing more that her ordinary efficient service this past week in transporting across the straits trainload after trainload of passengers fleetward bound. Although she carries no guns and her mission is always one of peace, we think the old boat deserves a place in the fleet herself, for she certainly cannot be outdone for usefulness by any of “Fighting Bob’s” squadron

Oct 10, 1908 Died on the Solano
The remains of Katie Anne, wife of Richard John, of Turgoose, British Columbia, were taken from the Oregon Express train here Tuesday evening and prepared for burial at Sanborn’s undertaking parlors. Mrs. John passed away while the train was being transferred across the straits by the steamer Solano. She had been a sufferer from consumption, and was in company with her husband and daughter, en route from Arizona to her home in British Columbia, which she hoped to reach alive.
Deceased was a native of British Columbia, aged 38 years. She was taken to Arizona nine months ago in the hope of a change proving beneficial, but gradually growing worse, was removed to Los Angeles about two weeks ago. Receiving no relief, her loved ones were endeavoring to comply with her wish to reach home. The sad journey homeward was resumed the next evening.

Oct 21, 1908 A. S. Parritt Retires
A.S. Parrit has resigned his position as chief engineer on the steamer Solano, and will hence forth enjoy the rest and comfort due him after long and faithful service. It is thirty-two years since Mr. Parritt entered the employ of the Southern Pacific Company, and for twenty-four years of the time he was an engineer on the Solano. A few weeks ago he suffered a severe attack of rheumatism and his physicians advised him that only rest would bring him back to health, hence his retirement. He is now well on the road to recovery, and while he will be much missed from his accustomed post, all join in the hope that many years may be allotted him in which he and his good wife may enjoy life’s truest pleasures.
John Murray, for the past few years in charge of an engine on the Solano, has been advanced to the place made vacant by Mr. Parritt’s resignation. Fred Smith has been appointed to the position formally occupied by Mr. Murry, and Lawrence Fish, who has been on one of the river steamers for several years, has come to take the place vacated by Mr. Smith. This will be an advantage to Mr. fish, as he will now be able to reside with his family, whereas in his former position he had to absent from home the greater part of the time.

Oct 30, 1908
Lawrence Fish, who came here a week or so ago to take a position as assistant engineer on the steamer Solano, did not find the work entirely to his liking, so returned to his former post, that of engineer on one of the river steamers. He has been succeeded on the Solano by John Christiansen. Mr. Chistiansen, it will be remembered, resided in Benicia previous to moving with his family to Oakland about two years ago.

Nov 6, 1908
Trains to San Francisco leave Benicia as follows:
No.23- 6:00a.m. Tonopah Express
No.15- 7:40a.m. California Express
No.17- 8:55a.m. Sac & Oroville Passenger
No.47- 9:30a.m. Sacramento Passenger
No.13- 10:12a.m. San Francisco Express
No. 9- 11:20p.m. Fast Mail
No. 5- 1:27p.m. Pacific Express
No.19- 3:15p.m. Sacramento Local
No. 3- 3:35p.m. Pacific Express
No. 1- 6:30p.m. Overland Limited

Trains from San Francisco arrive at Benicia as follows:
No.20- 8:30a.m. Sac & Oroville Passenger
No. 4- 10:42a.m. Atlantic Express
No. 2- 11:55a.m. Overland Limited
No.24- 12:30p.m. Tonopah Express
No.14- 1:00p.m. Portland Express
No.18- 1:45p.m. Sac & Oroville Passenger
No.48- 7:30p.m. Eldorado Flyer
No. 6- 8:10p.m. Atlantic Express
No.16- 10:10p.m. Oregon Express
No.10- 10:53p.m. Fast Mail

O. A. SELBY, Propr.
Leaves as follow:
Benicia at 10 a.m. and 3 p.m.
Vallejo at 12:30 and 5 p.m.
Specials either way on short notice

Owing to the fog Tuesday morning, the Solano ran into the end of the slip and knocked thirty feet of piles into the straits.

Dec 1, 1908 Steamer Solano Excepted.
The employees of the Solano are not to be given back their old time schedule, as was announced in some of the dailies a short time ago. They are excepted because the Solano is considered a part of the main line. The new law forbidding any railway man to work “twenty-four hours at a stretch proved dissatisfactory to the men on the ferry boats and they hired a lawyer to have the law repealed in their behalf. He gained his point on the ground that passenger ferry boats are not a part of the railroad, but the Solano carries trains, hence the exception.

Dec 17, 1908
Twenty-five carpenters have been at work this week making repairs to the slip of the steamer Solano which was damaged by the big boat crashing into it in the fog.

Mar 12, 1909
Arrangements have been made by which each member of the crew of the steamer Solano will be granted a holiday once a month. Heretofore the men have worked every day, Sunday included and the new arrangement is consequently a very pleasing one.

John McClain Retires After 43 Years With S. P.
To work steadily for 42 years and 10 months for the same employer is certainly an unusual record of industry and good service, and is one of which any man may well feel proud. With such a record to his credit, our esteemed citizen, John McClain, on Monday evening relinquished his duties as chief engineer of the steamer Solano, in order that he may spend his remaining years of life in the enjoyment of the rest and recreation which he has so well earned.
Mr. McClain entered the employ of the Southern Pacific Company in August 1866, as a fireman on the steamer Oakland, which ran between Oakland, San Francisco and San Antone (later Brooklyn, now East Oakland). He was ambitious to rise above the position of a fireman and was not long in passing the examination and securing his papers as an engineer. When the steamer Solano was ready for her first trip across the straits on November 24, 1879, he was sent here as an assistant engineer. Recognizing his ability and devotion to duty, the company steadily advanced him, until a few years ago, the responsible position of chief engineer was tendered him. His conscientious discharge of the duties of that position won the commendation of the company and the highest regard of his assistants, and while they will miss him from his post, all join in good wishes. As a slight token of their esteem, the engineers of the Solano last week presented him with a beautiful watch charm. The charm is an emblem of the Marine Engineers’ Association and is set in the center with a good-sized diamond. The presentation was made by Mr. McClain’s successor, John Murry.
Not only for his faithful service as an engineer is Mr. McClain entitled to praise, but for the higher and nobler duty of having served his country. He is a veteran of the Civil War, having enlisted in his native city, New York, at the age of sixteen. He fought under General Sheridan in the Shenandoah Valley, and on several other of the historical battlefields, receiving his honorable discharge on September 1, 1865.
At the age of sixty-two, Mr. McClain retires from his long and active service, in good health and with a bright prospect of being allotted many years in which to enjoy life. We join with his many friends in wishing him what is his due, a full measure of comfort and happiness.
With Mr. McClain’s retirement several of the engineers on the Solano have been advanced in step. John Murry has been elevated to the post of chief engineer, F. R. Smith has been made second engineer, F. G. Fitzgerald first assistant, and John Rahill an assistant.

July 23, 1909
The S. P. carpenters are at work on the steamer Solano, re-calking the boat and making a number of other repairs.

Crank Shaft Breaks but Boat Still Runs.
The steamer Solano is disabled, but not so much as to be laid off from duty. While entering the slip on the Port Costa side Wednesday afternoon one of the crank shafts broke, but the extent of the accident was not discovered until the boat started back with a freight train on board.
The tug “Collis,” with Captain John Fahrenholtz at the helm, was brought to the assistance of the Solano and she has since been making her regular daylight trips.
It will be about three weeks before the broken shaft is repaired.
During the Solano’s disablement all the daylight trains will run through Benicia as usual, but the last train in the evening will reach here at 6:10 o’clock leaving San Francisco at 5 o’clock.
The people of Benicia are anxiously waiting to hear the old familiar voice of Captain Fahrenholtz on First street, but so far he has remained at his post.

Oct 8, 1909
Trains to San Francisco leave Benicia as follows:
No.23- 6:00a.m. Tonopah Express
No.15- 7:40a.m. California Express
No.17- 9:00a.m. Sac & Oroville Passenger
No.47- 9:53a.m. Sacramento Passenger
No.13- 10:12a.m. San Francisco Express
No. 9- 11:13a.m. Fast Mail
No. 3- 12:03p.m. Pacific Express
No.19- 3:30p.m. Sacramento Local
No. 1- 5:35p.m. Overland Limited
No. 5- 6:45p.m. Pacific Express
No.11- 7:10p.m. Shasta Limited
No.100-9:05p.m. Sacramento Passenger

Trains from San Francisco arrive at Benicia as follows:
No.14- 1:23a.m. Portland Express
No.20- 8:55a.m. Sac & Oroville Passenger
No. 4- 10:42a.m. Atlantic Express
No.24- 12:05p.m. Tonopah Express
No. 2- 1:30p.m. Overland Limited
No.18- 1:45p.m. Sac & Oroville Passenger
No.48- 6:43p.m. Ridorado Flyer
No.12- 7:38p.m. Shasta Limited
No. 6- 8:31p.m. Atlantic Express
No.16- 10:03p.m. Oregon Express
No.10- 10:33p.m. Fast Mail
Trains No.s 1 – 2 – 11 and 12 will not carry local passengers from Benicia

Oct 15, 1909
It is reported that the repairs to the steamer Solano will be complete about October 25th. This is a little later than was anticipated at the time the accident occurred. The boat continues to make all the daylight trips without any trouble.

Oct 22, 1909 THE SOLANO
Big Boat Is Again Making Regular Trips.
The repairs to the steamer Solano were completed at five o’clock yesterday morning and the big boat is now working as usual, night and day. Three weeks ago the shaft of the boat broke, and while waiting for repairs to be completed, the steamer was able to make only daylight trips, causing considerable inconvenience to the traveling public, as well as to the railroad company. The people of this city are especially pleased that the repairs were completed this week, as all who desire will have an opportunity to enjoy the closing Portola festivities tomorrow evening and then return home on the train leaving San Francisco at 11:40 o’clock
The S. P. electricians are installing a new lighting system on the steamer Solano. The boat is to have electric lights throughout and in each pilot house there is to be a search-light.

Jan 21, 1910 Accident on Solano.
Passenger traffic was delayed several hours Wednesday on account of an accident on the ferry steamer Solano about 3:30 in the afternoon.
A baggage car containing eighty-four cans of cream consigned to the Western Creameries Company in this city, was backed off the end of the ferry while the boat was in the Port Costa slip. A switch engine was backing the car upon the ferry at considerable speed and when the air brakes were set to stop the train the coupling broke and car ran through the chains and over the end of the boat. Fortunately it did not fall completely overboard but hung to the forward deck by its trucks. The wrecking crew was called from Oakland and succeeded in raising the car upon the boat. Passenger trains numbers 5, 9 and 19 were delayed several hours but otherwise the accident occasioned no serious results.

Feb 11, 1910 Solano Again Disabled.
The steamer Solano met with an accident Monday evening and until repairs are completed will be able to make only daylight trips across the straits.
While entering the slip on this side of the straits with passenger train No. 18 on board, the strap holding the main crank pin of the port engine broke, wrecking the cylinder, engine plate and steam chest.
The tug Collis was called to aid of the disabled steamer and will do duty in that respect until the repairs are completed. The Solano ties up for the train due here at 6:40. Passengers for Benicia must leave San Francisco at 5 o’clock P. M., or stay on the Port Costa side until next morning.
It will be over a month before the Solano is again in repair.

July 10, 1910
Second Mate John Sven of the steamer Solano is qualifying for promotion to office of first mate, to take the place of Henry Williams who has asked for a transfer to the ferry “Ensenal,” plying between Oakland Pier and San Francisco. Mrs. Williams is expected to arrive soon from Holland, where she has been spending the winter with her parents, and the family desires to take up their residence in San Francisco.

Deck Hand on Ferry Solano Meets With Accident
Just as he had entered upon his duties for the day yesterday morning at 7 o’clock, a deck hand on the ferry “Solano,” Thomas McDermott, a well and favorably known resident of this city, was struck by a section of train No. 15, the wheels of a car passing over his right leg. He was thrown to the deck striking face downward the force of the fall also fracturing the bridge of his nose. He pulled himself free of the track and made an attempt to walk before friends came to the rescue. The ferry was held and Dr. McFarland summoned, he with the aid of a Los Angeles physician, who was a passenger on the train, made the sufferer as comfortable as possible, placed him upon the train and took him to the railroad hospital in Oakland where it was found necessary to amputate the limb just below the knee. Late reports say he is resting as easily as possible and that if nothing unforeseen occurs he will soon be on the road to recovery. His numerous friends deeply regret the unfortunate accident but are glad to hear that his life has been spared.
Mr. McDermott has been employed on the ferry about a year. He was a very careful, conscientious and industrious workman, which is a clear evidence that fate is no respecter of persons. He was born and reared at Fairfield, this county, where he has one sister, Mrs. Birmingham. He was married several years ago to Miss Julia Blyther, who has the sympathy of all over the sad occurrence.

Mar 24, 1911
The S. P. train schedule was knocked out for several hours Wednesday to allow carpenters to make necessary repairs to the guard planks on the sides of the ferry Solano. The planks had worn so that considerable damage was done to the slip piles when the ferry made a landing. The morning trains were sent around by way of Stockton but everything was running schedule time about one o’clock.

April 6, 1911
A fire of unknown origin was discovered in one of the pilot houses of the ferry steamer Solano Saturday afternoon. The fire brigade had a hard time locating the blaze and in subduing it and showed splendid efficiency in its work. The fire is supposed to have originated from a cigarette thrown in a room beneath the pilot house damaged. The loss was small and the boat did not miss a trip, going regularly back and forth while carpenters were busy making repairs.

Dec 1, 1911
The ferryboat Solano and steamer Wetchpeck bumped noses Wednesday evening in the fog. The latter craft was slightly damaged.
Crockett Signal.

Dec 8, 1911 Local Trains Running.
The Southern Pacific Company has been having more trouble with its roadbed between this city and Suisun during the past week but at the present time conditions permit the running of local trains to and from Sacramento. A large number of men are busily engaged endeavoring to keep the tracks above high water mark. Carload after carload of rock and earth are still being dumped into the sink and the mysterious manner in which it gradually disappears out of sight caused the superstitious to wonder if the eruption in China has anything to do with it. Let us hope the void will soon be filled.

Mar 15, 1912
The first of this week there took effect a substantial advance in the salary of every man employed on the steamer Solano. The Southern Pacific Company never granted a more deserving request. Of the men on the Solano from the captains down it can be truly said that they are worthy of their hire. They are numbers among our best citizens and are industrious, capable and loyal – loyal to their town, their employers and themselves.

Aug 2, 1912 Overboard.
Last Saturday night while train No. 16, the Oregon Express, was on the Solano coming from Port Costa to Benicia, one of the passengers, an aged man, either fell or jumped overboard. It is thought he jumped overboard with suicidal intent, as a short time before he had given the Pullman conductor his bank book and other valuables for safe-keeping.
The crew from the Solano put down a life-saving boat immediately and succeeded in rescuing the man. He was placed aboard the train and taken to a hospital in Sacramento. He had purchased a ticket for Portland.

Aug 9, 1912 Colonist Rates From East.
Commencing September 8th to October 10th inclusive west bound reduced rate tickets will be on sale from Chicago for $38; Missouri River Points, Kansas City to Omaha for $30; St. Louis $37 and corresponding reductions from Boston, New York, and other Eastern cities. These tickets will allow stop over in California and you can deposit amount of trip and our Agent will wire your Eastern relatives or friends without extra charge. Any Southern Pacific Agent will be glad to give you further details.

Dense fogs, moving in late in the afternoon and not dispersing until nearly noon of the day following, formed the atmospheric or climatic feature in Benicia during the week. These sea fogs of California are famous. They bring discomfort but not disease. Their mission is a purifying one. Persons suffering with pulmonary troubles find it wise to avoid them as much as possible, but during the summer at least the fogs bring relief in a land of too constant sunshine and long dry seasons.
To all craft upon the straits or bay this thick drifting vapor is an enveloping menace and there is no weather condition more dreaded by their crews. On the lower bay all the week the huge ferry boats have felt their way slowly through the fog, incessantly sounding deep warnings to other vessels, while along the straits and the river the hoarse whistles of the river boats have carried a note that is disquieting. In Benicia the strongest hint of danger for the fog came Monday in the mishap to the big freight and passenger transport, the Solano.
The approach of the fog in the late afternoon is accompanied by many strange effects. Looking down the street one notices the lines of the buildings and moving forms along the sidewalks soften and grow dim. Another moment and they have vanished while the invading vapor moves up.

This city was removed from San Francisco many hours Monday, when the ferryboat Solano, carrying two trains, the fast mail and the Sacramento and Oroville passenger, lost her bearings in the dense fog and crashed into the pilings at the end of the slip at Port Costa.
The impact against the pilings, which were broken like straws, resulted in several near tragedies, when a section of each train unattached to an engine began to roll forward with a speed that threatened to carry them into the water. One passenger standing on the track was bowled along by the cars but kept his feet, while a woman was pulled out of harm’s way by Seth Bromley of this city.
It required nearly two hours to pull the big boat around so she could make the landing. She then left for the Benicia side for repairs, while trains were ordered around by Martinez and Stockton until late in the afternoon. During the day passengers for this city stood upon the slip at the Port Costa side and gazed wistfully across the mile of water separating them from their destination, but craft leaving with men for the disabled Solano or on other errands could not be induced to go into the transportation business. Earlier in the morning the big ferry steamer, fog blinded, poked her nose trough the piling at one end of the Benicia slip.

Commencing August 4 the Southern Pacific Company will discontinue handling automobiles on the train ferry Solano. This was the announcement made today by William Denver, local agent for the company.
The discontinuance of auto traffic by the Southern Pacific will result in more business for the Martinez-Benicia ferry. It has been understood that the company has not been particular about the business and would discontinue it as soon as the new ferry was running on schedule, and this announcement confirms the general belief.
Traffic on the Martinez-Benicia ferry has continued heavy during the week, the business increasing steadily as other sections of the state learn of the new route for automobiles.
Sunday was a great day for the ferry people. No less than 87 automobiles, most of them well filled with passengers, crossed on that day. In addition to this the ferry carried 27 motor cycles, two three horse rigs, one one-horse rig and 491 tickets for passenger were sold, many of which were for return trips. The day’s business amounted to nearly $200.

Dimensions Of Giant Vessel Which Will Assist Solano
In Transporting Main Line Trains Between
Benicia and Port Costa
After an all-day battle against adverse winds and tides the big ferryboat Contra Costa arrived at Benicia at 6:30 o’clock Wednesday evening.
The big boat left Oakland shortly after 9 in the morning and it is believed that she would reach here about noon. She was reported from various places along the bay as having a difficult time against the wind and tide and word was passed around that she would not arrive until the middle of the afternoon.
A river steamer was sighted off Selby about this hour and in spite of the downpour many went down to greet the boat. It soon became apparent that the vessel off Selby was not the big ferry and a wet and disappointed crowd returned.
When the boat finally arrived it was dark and no one but the railroad men who had come up by train was on hand.
The ferry was assisted by the tug Ajax. She ran out of water on the way and had to pump salt water from the bay. This will necessitate the thorough cleaning of her engines, and this work will require a day or two. No plans for the future have been made known and whether the Solano will be taken down and overhauled before the fair has not been announced.
If the ferry had been ready to put on it was planned to have her bring the special train bearing Julius Kruttschnitt, chairman of the executive committee of the road, and his party when he went east yesterday. His train was brought over about 10 o’clock yesterday morning.
Party on Contra Costa
To Captain J. C. Hoffman belongs the honor of having brought the Contra Costa up the bay. The engineering force consisted of J. J. Murray, Chief; F. R. Smith, second chief, and F. G. Fitzgerald, first assistant.
In the party of railroad men on board was J. D. Brennan, superintendent of the Western Division. An interested passenger also was Miss Kate Potwin who christened the boat when she was launched several months ago. Miss Potwin who was thus honored by the company is ticket agent at the Oakland Mole.
Big Expenditure
The cost of building the Contra Costa was approximately half a million dollars. Counting this big item, the expenditure of the Southern Pacific at this point is believed to have been not less that a million and half dollars within the past two years, the new slip for the Contra Costa on the Benicia side having cost $228,000 alone.

It is thought likely today that the superintendent of the Western Division, J. D. Brennan, will come up from Oakland on a special train tomorrow and try out the new ferry, Contra Costa.
The reports in many papers to the effect that Mr. Kruttschnitt’s train crossed on the new boat Thursday are not true. The ferry has not left her slip since her arrival late Wednesday evening.

Not many years ago it was a common saying among Southern Pacific officials that another Solano would never be built; that a bridge across Carquinez straits would soon do away with the need of a ferry boat between Port Costa and Benicia. But see what’s happened. A new ferry boat, the Contra Costa, succeeds the Solano, and that bridge remains a myth. The Contra Costa is twice as powerful as the old Solano, long heralded as the largest ferry boat in the world. The Solano developed 1400 horse-power, whereas the Contra Costa has 2800. The new steamer can carry with ease a train of 24 Pullman cars.
-Napa Register.

On opening his mail a few days ago Superintendent J. D. Brennan of the western division found a letter from the steamer Solano, says the Southern Pacific Bulletin. In the belief that other members of the Southern Pacific family will be interested in what the Solano has to say, Mr. Brennan has published the letter, first, of course, having secured the consent of the Solano. Here is the letter:
Port Costa, December 15, 1914.
Mr. J. D. Brennan, Oakland Pier.
Dear Sir;
Have just been advised that the steamer Contra Costa is to be sent here in a few days to relieve me. I am glad of the prospect for a rest, but hope you are not figuring on retiring me permanently. All I need is a few ribs reset, and some of my knees fixed and a general overhauling of my circulatory system to be as good as new.
While I have not felt any too well for the past two years, have always managed to be on hand when wanted.
You remember the last time I broke down completely and had to go to the hospital was in February 1905, and while I was partially crippled in February 1910, while taking over No. 43 I managed to work days with one wheel and a tug as an escort until I was put in shape to do my full stunt, and for the last two years and over I have never missed a trip.
During the time I have been on this job I have traveled something like 626,340 miles and have made 431,800 landings. I have handled approximately 1,419,850 passenger cars and 2,850,500 freight cars.
In the old days I used to take twenty passenger cars or thirty –five fright cars over on a trip, but since you have been building larger and longer cars about all I can get away with is thirty-two freight cars or seventeen passenger cars.
I regret that I have been supplanted by a larger boat and that I can no longer be called “the biggest ferry boat in the world”.
I am not jealous of my successor; I wish her all kinds of good luck; may she live long and prosper, and not break any more piles than I have.
Yours truly,

Additional Shifts Are Asked And May Be Granted By Company
Three crews for each of the big train transports between Benicia and Port Costa has been petitioned for by the men and it is said the prospects are good for the Southern Pacific granting their request.
If the petitions of the men are granted at the hearing, which will soon take place, there will be six crews at work when the Solano is brought back from the shipyards. This would mean the employment of from ten to 15 more men.
It is believed that when the Solano returns the order not to allow foot passengers to cross, now in effect on the Contra Costa, may be rescinded. The order works as an injury to Benicia businessmen since it interferes with easy communication between Port Costa and this city, as well as proving an inconvenience to many who wish to cross between trains to take trains on the other side.

The big ferryboat Solano may be back on the run sooner than expected. Over 200 men, it is said are working night and day on the big transport at the Southern Pacific shipyards at West Oakland.
One railroad man stated yesterday that repairs on her may be completed within a month.
In the meantime traffic is very heavy over the Southern Pacific and the Solano would come in very handy at this time were she ready to be put on.

July 16, 1915 S. P. HAS ITS HANDS FULL
Contra Costa Running Constantly Night and Day
- Work on Solano
The Southern Pacific has its hands full with exposition traffic.
What railroad officials declare to be the largest special train movement for one group of people in the history of the west will be handled over the Shasta route between yesterday and July 21. Twenty-two specials will bring approximately five thousand Shriners, hailing from every corner of the continent, to the Panama – Pacific exposition at San Francisco.
The first of the Shrine trains left Portland yesterday bearing Islam Temple of San Francisco. This special will arrive tomorrow.
Another heavy train movement will materialize the week of July 20, when the Southern Pacific will bring fifteen special train parties of Elks to the California expositions.
The Contra Costa is making record runs across Carquinez straits, crossing as high as fifty-two times in twenty-four hours.
Work on the Solano is being rushed but it is not thought possible to have the other big train transport back here before October. Good progress is being made on the Solano slips which are being rebuilt.

The S. P. bulletin for July contains the names of twenty-nine employees retired at a meeting of the board of pensions held on May 4. Of these three are from Benicia, They are:
Manuel M. Noronha, night watchman of steamers.
William Roberts, assistant engineer of steamers.
John C. Hoffman, captain of steamers.
The company now has on its veterans corps’ roll between six and seven hundred of the “Old Faithful”, and has paid out in pensions over two million dollars since the system was inaugurated.

While entering her Benicia slip Monday at midnight the train transport Contra Costa ran into the piling, injuring a paddle wheel. All day Tuesday trains were routed by way of Stockton. On Wednesday the Contra Costa crossed several trains to relieve the traffic on the other line, after which repairs were continued until completed.

The Southern Pacific train transport Solano which has been undergoing repairs for several months at the West Oakland shipyards is ready to come up to Benicia. She is expected any day now.

The ferryboat Solano arrived from West Oakland Tuesday after a complete overhauling at the Southern Pacific shipyards.
Both the ferryboat Contra Costa and the Solano will remain for the present at Benicia, it is said. The Contra Costa will be kept under steam while the Solano is being tried out. When the Solano shows herself satisfactory, repair work on the Contra Costa will begin. This work will be done here. It is now said the Contra Costa will not be taken to Oakland for an overhauling.
By the time the Contra Costa is completed the slips here will be finished. It is expected that both boats will run during the day and that one will maintain the service across the straits at night.

Most of the trains out from San Francisco the first of the week especially Sunday, traveled in two sections. The traffic was heavy because of the throngs of people who were leaving the city after the closing events Saturday at the fair.

It is estimated that the new machinery in the Solano, which returned last week from the West Oakland shipyards, was installed at an expense of over $325,000. The total investment of the Southern Pacific at Benicia and Port Costa, including the big train transport, is enormous. The Southern Pacific will mean more than ever to Benicia when the two big boats are carrying all the traffic that can be handled across the straits.

The train transport Contra Costa has been laid up for repairs to her rudders. During the dense fog early Wednesday morning the big boat ran between the piling and oil works on the Port Costa side, in trying to find here slip, hitting her rudder on some rocks. The Solano had to take the run in her place.
Wednesday night the Solano tore into the piling on the Port Costa side doing some damage. The fogs in the early morning have made crossing difficult but traffic has not been long impeded.

The heavy weather and high tides the first of the week, combined with the fact that the ferry slips at Port Costa are still in somewhat battered shape, made it necessary to tie up the train transport Contra Costa several hours each day and route the trains around by Stockton.

During the interruption of traffic over the main line of the Southern Pacific on account of the crippled Port Costa slips and high tides, some of the trains were routed through Vallejo. It is not known how long the boat will be obliged to cancel some of her trips daily.

Big Transport Will Be Brought Up
From Oakland Next Week
Next Tuesday or Wednesday the big train ferry Solano, which has been at the West Oakland yards undergoing repairs, will be brought back to Benicia.
During her absence her work has been done by the Contra Costa. With winter coming on the Southern Pacific officials will feel easier when the Solano is back in her slip, ready for business.
The train ferry Solano arrived yesterday from the West Oakland shipyards where she has been for six weeks under repairs. Last evening the boat was on her run again.

Elijah C. Morton, son the late Captain and Mrs. E. C. Morton, will claim a bride next Tuesday in Sacramento when he will wed Miss Irene Margaret Martin, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. George M. Martin of that city.
The young couple will live in Sacramento.

A gloom was cast over the employees of the Southern Pacific and many people in Benicia when they learned Sunday that Captain John Svenn, one of the masters of the train transport Contra Costa, had died Saturday night. Captain Svenn was taken sick on the boat a few hours before and rapidly grew worse until his death. The deceased was born in Finland 63 years ago and had lived 42 years in the United States, 17 of which were passed in Benicia where he had the respect of everyone who knew him. For a good many years he was a sailor before the mast, later becoming an employee of the Southern Pacific on its boats. He was a member of Golden Gate Harbor No. 40, an organization of captains, pilots, mates and navigators, twelve of whose number attended the funeral services Tuesday afternoon conducted by Rev. Mr. Nelson, Methodist pastor of Martinez.
Many beautiful floral pieces were received at the home, one of which was a miniature of the ferryboat Contra Costa, the offering of the employees on that vessel and of the ferryboat Solano.
The interment was in the city cemetery, the funeral arrangements being by Mrs. J. L. Sanborn.
Captain Svenn leaves to mourn him his wife Margareta who has the sympathy of the community in her sad loss.

May 31, 1918 FERRY BOAT LAME;
The train transport Contra Costa was laid up the first of the week with a broken crank and traffic has been impeded considerably. It will require from two to eight months to make a new casting and get it out from the cast. In the meantime the boat will have to stay in her slip or be helped across the straits with a tug boat. A tug boat has been resorted to in similar accidents to the Solano and may be used to relieve the present situation.

The train transport Solano was out of commission several hours Monday as a result of the breaking of a cross head. Traffic was completely tied up across the straits as the Contra Costa is down the bay undergoing repairs.
Several trains were sent around by Stockton.
The crew tried to run the boat in its damaged condition but got nearer Martinez than Port Costa. Later in the evening the boat took No. 46 over and was working regularly by 9:30 Monday evening.

The train ferry “Contra Costa” which has been laid up in the Southern Pacific shipyards at West Oakland with a broken shaft will be brought up to resume her run next week.
The accident to the boat occurred the first week in June. As it requires several weeks to get a new casting in the east the ferry was taken down for temporary repairs.

After undergoing repairs at West Oakland for the last four weeks, the train ferry Contra Costa was brought up to Benicia Wednesday.
The first week in June the boat was put out of commission by a broken crack shaft. March 30, 1923 Old Paper Tells of First Trip of S. P. Ferryboat Solano
The following is taken from the Benicia Chronicle, dated Wednesday, November 16th, 1879. The paper is in the possession of Mrs. C. E. Erwin, who prizes it very highly.
The trial trip of the C. P. R. R. Co.’s leviathan ferryboat, the Solano, took place Monday morning and resulted satisfactorily to all concerned. The engines and machinery worked smoothly, and the jarring and noise common to boats of this character were conspicuously absent. The new hydraulic steering apparatus was thoroughly tested and found to be all its inventor claims for it. Her dimensions are: 425 feet long, over all, 116 feet beam, with a registered tonnage of 3,512 tons. The motive power is furnished by two beam engines of 1,500 horse-power each. The cylinders are 60 inches in diameter and 9 feet stroke. She has 8 boilers, made of the best Bemis steel, and 4 smoke stacks.
She has 4 iron fresh-water tanks, each 20 feet long and 6 feet in diameter. Among other novelties in her construction are four Pratt trusses, arranged fore and aft, varied in size to meet the strain upon them. These give stiffness and connect the deck and bottom of the boat, making her in reality a huge floating bridge.
The hull is scow-shaped and similar in model to the ordinary stern-wheel river steamboat. She is a double-ender, and at each end has four balanced rudders, each 11 _ feet long and 5 _ feet in depth. They are constructed with coupling rods, and each has one king-pin in the centre for the purpose of holding it in place. The rudders are worked by a hydraulic steering gear, operated by an independent steam pump. These rudders are connected with the ordinary steering gear, so that in case of any disarrangement of the hydraulic apparatus, the vessel may be guided by it. The advantage of this improvement is that the immense craft can be handled with ease by one man, whereas, if the ordinary wheel and system of steering was used, it would require six men at the wheel, in fact, the huge rudders responded instantaneously to the touch of Capt E. Morton. On Monday with one hand he easily moved the lever along a sliding brass plate and guided the monster craft at will.
The Solano is the largest vessel of her class in the world. She was designed by Arthur Brown, Superintendent of Construction of the C. P. R. R. Co., as a ferry-boat, to run between Benicia and Carquinez, across the Carquinez strait, and to transfer freight and passenger cars between those points, effecting a great saving in distance and time of transit. Hitherto the overland route past Carquinez has been along the curves of the bay shore for a considerable distance, and the total distance traveled between San Francisco and Sacramento was sixty miles greater than by the new arrangement. A saving of three hours over the present overland route and an hour over the Vallejo route is thus effected. Overland passengers will leave Oakland Point as heretofore and will travel the old road as far as Carquinez, where they will be transferred cars and all, to the Solano, ferried to Benicia, run off on to the wharf, and by the Benicia road to Sacramento. All this is to be done without compelling passengers to leave their seats or experience and inconvenience.
Two new large slips have been built a Benicia and Carquinez to receive the Solano, and immense pontoon bridges have been built at both places, worked by hydraulics to the proper level with the boat, to safely transfer the cars.
When passing the city front of San Francisco, steam crafts of every description saluted the mammoth boat, which was acknowledged in return and then she was headed direct for the Benicia slip at which she arrived at 2:30 P. M. The experiment of testing her steering gear by maneuvering around the bay and also on her way up here, proved her all that she was intended for, and Arthur brown and his assistants can well be proud of her, as she was a grand success. She had flags enough to decorate several boats, which also added immensely to the gigantic appearance.
After passing Red Rock, a grand lunch was served up in the restaurant department which is under the management of Jas. W. Hart who has the restaurant on the ferryboat Yosemite. It was a feast worthy of the gods, and the above gentleman deserves great credit for the manner in which it was gotten up. Mr. Wm. Mc Cormack, who has refreshment saloons on various steamers of the company, has leased the bar of the Solano.
On reaching Benicia we were greeted by several hundred people who loudly cheered the arrival of the boat and Mr. Chas. Crocker. A detachment of ordnance, through the kindness of Col. McAllister, fired a salute of twenty-six guns, under the command of Lieut. Lyons.
After the working of the apron had been tested, everybody present was invited on board and taken across the Strait. The water on the Contra Costa shore runs very swift at that point, and it was difficult to make a good landing. In this, however, the Solano is greatly aided by being worked by two independent engines.
The officers of the Solano will be composed of two crews, and the following are their names: Captain, E. Morton, formerly of the Capitol, and Jas K. Remington; First Officers, Bartholeme Kencht and Wm. Poole; Second Officers, J Tarbox and John Smith; Chief Engineer, Lowe Hogeboom; Assistant Engineers, A. A. Winship and Fred Smith.
There will be some 47 men all told, employed on the boat. Among those on board including the invited guests were noticed Chas Crocker, A. N. Towne, Col. E. C. Fellows, C. Fred Crocker, T. H. Goodman, Arthur Brown, S. S. Montigue, J. H. Strobridge, W. V. Hunington, A. J. Stevens, Capt Edward Foster, Eli R. Dennison, H. Cooley, Geo. D. Welch, G. G. Smith, Geo. Blakley, Marcus D. Boruck, Hon L. B. Mizner, wife and daughter, Lanzing B Mizner, J. A. Von Pfister, Capt. C. Harrison, B. F. Williams, Charles Quigg, Ben. C. Truman, John A Sandirson, Dr. E. F. Hough, A. R. Guppy, Col G. W. Colby, Hugh M. burke, of the Bulletin, W. A. Boyce, Wm. McCormack, Jas. Hillman boiler inspector, Capt. J. H. Freeman, inspector of hulls, Superintendent of First District C. C. Bemis; E. M. Freeman, S. F. Pilot, W. N. Hart of the Chronicle, P. A. Finnegan, Geo. H. Moore, John MacOmber, Geo. Colburn, Wm. Bedell and others.
The trains by this new route will commence running regularly in about three weeks. In the meantime the finishing touches to the slips and boat will be attended to. The trial was completed without an accident, and may be considered a grand success.

Fire Fighters Receive Praise for Preventing a More Serious Loss to
Southern Pacific Company
The Southern Pacific ferry slips at Benicia were damaged to the extent of about $150,000 last Saturday night as the result of the fire, which for a time threatened to destroy them entirely. The fire was discovered about 8:50 by Tony Lamb, the watchman, who endeavored to extinguish the blaze, but it spread so rapidly that he was unable to do anything to check the flames. It was seen a few minutes later by John Dinneon, the tower man at the Port Costa slip. Thomas Cole, the yardmaster at Port Costa, was immediately notified and he quickly asked the operator at Benicia to call the Benicia Fire Department and he also put in a call for the tug at Crockett, the fire boat a Mare Island and the fire train at Sacramento. He also called the S. P. tug, Ajax at San Francisco.
The flames spread very rapidly, owing to the creosote with which the pilings are coated, and when the Benicia department arrived, it was gaining headway on the inside rows of piling in both slips and the wharf between. Major T. J. Smith at the Arsenal was informed of the fire and immediately ordered the Arsenal apparatus out, under the command of Major S. P. Spalding. The work done by these two departments is praised by the railroad men, both those engaged in fighting the fire and the officials who visited the scene after it was over. The flames were rapidly gaining headway into the aprons and if they had been damaged the system would have been tied up completely. Both Fire Chief Johnston and Assistant Chief Dalton state that it seemed as though the flames could not be stopped and it was at least ten minutes before three streams of water on the flames had any effect on checking the fire. The well trained men in both departments by their hard work saved a half million dollars loss.
While the fire departments were working on the land side, the ferry Contra Costa under the command of Capt. David Elson and the ferry Solano under the command of Captain Henry Williams arrived from Port Costa and poured streams of water on the blaze. With the bows of the boats as close to the fire as possible, so close in fact that the heat cracked the glass in the pilot house of the Contra Costa, the crews of these two boats shielded themselves as best they could and helped save the ends of the slips. They were assisted by the tug from the California and Hawaiian Sugar Co. and the fire boat from Mare Island, all of whom did good work. The maneuvering of the two big boats called for skillful handling and everyone had to be on the alert every minute to keep them in position. It was a fine display of seamanship and a thrilling sight to see the large boats handled in such close quarters. The tugs did fine work, throwing an immense amount of water and doing their part in keeping the fire from spreading and under control.
The ferries began their regular trips about 1:45, after making one trip light to see if everything was working properly.
The traffic has been carried without interruption ever since, though the captains have to be careful in making landings on account of the weakened condition of the piling.
During the fire two sections of No.12, Nos.10 and 16 and the first section of No.223 were routed by way of Tracy by Mr. Cole. No.54 was the first train to make the trip after the fire was under control.
A switch engine was called from Suisun to pull several cars off the siding on the east side of the slips, some of which contained gasoline. The engine beat all records in making the twenty mile run. The fire train from Sacramento was cancelled after it was seen that it was not necessary. The tug Ajax made the run from San Francisco in two hours and twenty-three minutes.
Division Superintendent P. A. Campbell and Division Engineer T. R. Porter were on the scene early and remained all night. Superintendent T. F. Rowland visited the slips early next morning.
Men were put at work Monday morning tearing away the burned section and several carloads of lumber were on hand to start repair work. It is believed that the fire was caused by an electric wire breaking as a result of the movement of the slips when the boats are against it. The flames were seen to start high up on the slips, which the authorities believe indicates a broken wire to be the cause.
The flames could be seen for miles and many people visited the scene of the fire and the road along the hills across the Straits were lined with auto parties viewing the spectacular sight.

November 7, 1924 10 YEARS AGO THIS WEEK
Capt. John C. Hoffman was made master of the new train transport Contra Costa.

May 6, 1927 Local Notes
The Southern Pacific ferry boat, Contra Costa, is expected from the lower bay Saturday morning. Captain W. S. Carson has received orders to bring her up. The boat was disabled a week ago by the cracking of a cylinder.

Fire threatened the Southern pacific slips at noon today and had it not been for quick action on the part of firemen and crew of the Solano, the slips would have been seriously damaged. The fire started at the end of the Solano slip and spread rapidly. The Solano was approaching the slip when the blaze was discovered and had several streams of water on it as soon as possible. The wharf pump was started and soon the flames were under control. The piling and timbers are badly scorched.
While making a run to the fire the Benicia Fire department engine ran in to some loose dirt on the way to the slip along the track and almost skidded into the bay. A large rock saved it from the water. Engineer Frank Hoster, driver, and Frank Jensen were on the front seat. No one was injured.
A switch engine pulled the fire engine out.
It is not know how the blaze was started.

November 13, 1927 S. P. Appeals Wage Arbitration Case
The Southern Pacific Co. has appealed from the decision of the arbitration board which recently gave the firemen and deckhands of the S. P. Ferries a raise of $10 per month and reduced the working hours to 6 days a week of eight hours. The case will be heard in the Federal Court in San Francisco on December 1st. Gavta McNab has been retained by the railroad men as their attorney.

The following from the San Francisco Chronicle is of special interest to the employees on the Southern Pacific ferry boats in Benicia.
The ferry Boatmen’s Union, with 837 employees of San Francisco bay ferry steamers, won a victory in its working hour controversy with four railroads yesterday when Federal Judge St. Sure handed down an opinion affirming the award of the board of arbitration of October 31, 1927, placing all deck men on an eight hour basis.
The dispute arose when the railway board of mediation held a hearing on the demands of employees of the ferry steamers of the Southern Pacific, Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe, Northwestern Pacific and the Western Pacific. The mediation board turned the case over to a special arbitration board headed by Charles D. Marx.
Under the dispute Rule 6, ferry employees are divided into two classes, the first being those working twelve hours and off twenty-four hours, of which there were 519: the second being those working eight hours a day of which there were 318. When the arbitration board handed down its decision last October the first class, working twelve hours, was eliminated. There were also certain minor exceptions to these working hours, which were changed by the board.
Judge St. Sure bases his finding on the provisions of the railway labor act and quotes from its admonishment to liberality as follows: An award as herein provided shall be liberally confavoring its validity.”
Attorneys who fought the case on bearing are, for the carriers: E. W. Camp, H. T. Lucey, W. H. Orrick, F. M. Angellotti, Guy V. Shoup and Henley C. Booth. For the Ferry boatmen’s Union: Raymond Benjamin, John L. McNab and Joesph C. Sharp.

March 23, 1928 Solano Collides With Oil Tanker
Two officers were injured Wednesday morning when the Southern Pacific train ferry, Solano and the Union Oil Tanker Kern, collided at a point about 300 feet from the pier at Benicia as the ferry boat was approaching.
Captain Joseph Fantos, master of the Kern and Pilot Charles L. Bjork were both injured, Fanto having been knocked unconscious. Bjork received a deep cut on the head when he was thrown against the pilot house. Both men were given treatment by a Crockett physician.
The Kern was struck on the port bow and though considerably damaged was able to proceed. The Solano under Captain H. Williams was practically undamaged.
Due to heavy fog both boats were traveling slowly. The tanker was on its way from Pittsburg to Oleum.

April 6, 1928 Shipmates Honor Retiring Mariner
Editor Benicia Herald-New Era:
We the undersigned wish to have published in your paper the following: Mr. John L. Kenny, 1st assistant chief engineer of the steamer Contra Costa has been retired on pension after serving thirty-six years and nine months with due honor and respect and his shipmates have presented him with two valuable presents, hoping he will enjoy a long and happy retirement. Among the donors were:
Captain H, Williams, steamer Contra Costa.
Captain W, Carson, steamer Contra Costa.
Chief Engineer J. J. Murray, steamer Contra Costa.
Assistant Chief L. L. E. Fish, steamer Contra Costa.
Assistant Chief Engineer F. H. Johnson, steamer Contra Costa.
Chief Engineer J. L. Dunn, steamer Solano.
George Farosich, Yardmaster, Port Costa.
George Rolands, General Yard Master.
All the engineering departments of the steamers Contra Costa and Solano and the deck department of the Contra Costa.

June 8, 1928 Captain Fahrenholtz Dies in San Francisco
Captain John Joseph Fahrenholtz passed away in San Francisco Wednesday. Captain Fahrenholtz was at one time an officer of the S. P. boats in Benicia and made his home in this city. He is survived by his widow and two children, Mrs. Clair Iris Blanchfield and Captain Raymond Fahrenholtz. He was a native of San Francisco. The funeral service was held Friday afternoon in Oakland.

A. E. Danielson Dies in Oakland
Andrew Emil Danielson passed away at his home in Oakland Sunday after a short illness. He was an assistant engineer of the Southern Pacific Company. For many years he lived with his family in Benicia while employed on the S. P. boats.
The deceased was a native of Norway, 64 years of age. He is survived by his widow and nine children, Mrs. Aagort Gilberg, Mrs. E. E. Atwood, James C., William P., Arthur E., Theodore J., and Herbert C.
The funeral services were held on Wednesday afternoon in Oakland. The interment was in the Mt. View Cemetery. Mr. and Mrs. John Christiansen attended the services, Mr. Christiansen acting as pall bearer.

August 23, 1928 Ferry Men Win Eight Hour Fight
Members of the San Francisco Ferrymen’s Union won their demand for an eight-hour day and abolishment of the twelve-hour watch, in a decision handed down Monday by the United States Circuit Court of Appeals.
The decision affects the deck hands and firemen on the ferry boats Solano and Contra Costa, and is of special interest to the men employed here.
The decision upholds the Union and amounts to an order upon the Southern Pacific Company, The Santa Fe, Western Pacific, and Northwestern Pacific railways, to put the new hours into effect.
Unless the railroads appeal to the United States Supreme Court, the decision will end the dispute that has been waged at intervals for the last several years. When the argument came to a climax recently the Secretary of Labor, under the Railway Labor Act, appointed a board of arbitration which sat here for weeks and heard all details of the controversy.
The employees objected to the prevailing system of twelve hours on duty 24 off. The railroads held that elimination of the long watch would make it difficult for them to maintain schedules.
Holding with the union, the Arbitration Board ordered the eight-hour day, with a few exceptions. The railroads then attacked the power of the board in an action before United States District Judge A. F. St. Sure, who upheld the Railway Labor Act and sustained the ruling of the arbitrators.
An appeal to the Circuit Court brought the ruling handed down yesterday. Unless the case is carried to the Supreme Court, the decision will become effective in 90 days.
John L. McNab, the attorney for the Union, has given it as his opinion that the case will end and that there will not be an appeal to the United States Supreme Court.

Bad Weather Worst in Years in State
The weather for several days preceding Christmas was the most miserable experienced by old California residents. The fog hung on day and night, combined with heavy frosts which also stayed with us for twenty-four hours. Vegetation and everything standing was covered with ice, reminding eastern people of their native land. The thermometer touched 28 degrees. Monday, a cold rain set in, melting the ice and finally clearing up the fog.
The linemen for the Telephone Co. and the P. G. and E. Co. were kept busy repairing the damage. They are still busy putting up new wires for the ones that were broken.
The foggy, frost condition was general over the valleys of the state, causing much suffering and many accidents.

Local and Personal News
While coming out of the slip Friday morning in a dense fog the Solano rammed a barge loaded with pipe. Some of the pipe was lost, but no other damage was done.

April 18, 1929 Eight Hour Shift For Boat Officers
Beginning Tuesday all shifts on the Solano and Contra Costa are working eight hours. The officers and engineers have been working twelve on and twenty-four off, the deck hands and firemen having the eight hour shift since they won their case in court.

A tragic accident Saturday morning took the life of John P. Martin, an employee of the Southern Pacific Co. ferry boat. Mr. Martin was returning from work on the boats and caught a ride on a string of some twenty cars which were being taken to the east end of the yard. He was riding on about the center of the cars intending to get off at the East Fifth street crossing. The speed was too fast when the cars reached the crossing and Mr. Martin stayed on until the engine stopped. He got off but got on again when the cars were being backed into a switch. When he reached the crossing he jumped off and landed in front of No. 11 which headed toward the station.
The unfortunate man was hit by the engine, and his body was thrown into the moving train from which he had just jumped. Manuel Pedro the crossing watchman saw he intended to jump and tried to make Martin see the approaching train which was coming back of him, but failed to attract his attention.
Martin was picked up by the switching crew, and put on No. 11 which had stopped. Dr. P. B. Fry was summoned and it was decided to try and reach the S. P. Hospital in San Francisco. Martin died just as the boat reached Port Costa. A fractured skull, broken back, broken legs and arms made his death certain from the first.
The body was taken in charge by W. S. Chisholm Undertaking Parlors. The funeral services were held Monday morning at 9:30 at St. Dominic church with a requiem high mass. The internment was in the Dominican Cemetery.
Mr. Martin was 46 years of age. He was a widower, his wife having died about a year ago. He is survived by four boys, Edward, Ernest, Alfred and Vincent, one brother, Manuel of Benicia and two sisters, Mrs. Justin Santos of Benicia and Mrs. Mary Andrada of Sacramento.

September 11, 1930 Last Steel For Bridge Has Been Shipped
Last steel for the Martinez-Benicia bridge, the $12,000,000 structure which the Southern Pacific is building to span the lower Suisun bay from Martinez to Army Point, a shipment of thirteen cars was loaded in New Orleans and started west at 7:30 o’clock Tuesday night, according to a message received almost simultaneously with the shipment by H. I. Benjamin, assistant engineer of bridges in direct charge of construction of the big span.
This steel should reach Martinez within two weeks, the time clearance avoiding repetition of possible delays with which the project was threatened several weeks ago when a badly needed shipment of steel from the Ohio mills reached Martinez just four hours before the American Bridge Co. would have been forced to suspend work until the steel reached the scene of operations. This delay was due to the drought in the middle west lowering water in the Ohio and Mississippi rivers to a point where barges were delayed in moving steel to New Orleans.

According to a bulletin issued by the Southern Pacific Company it is planned to open the Martinez-Benicia Bridge for traffic Wednesday, October 15th at 11:30 a.m. The first train scheduled over the bridge will be No.30, and will arrive at Benicia Junction at 11:45. It is presumed that the bus to Crockett will start at the same time, keeping up the passenger service.
It is the plan to tie up the Solano at Port Costa, keeping the three firemen aboard, with steam up for any emergency that may arise. It is not known just how long this will be done, but will last until after November 1st, the day of the dedication. According to arrangements the official train on that date will make the trip across on the Solano, thence to Benicia Junction and across the bridge to Martinez.
Most of the local railroad employees do not know as yet just what new jobs will be open to them. All of the boatmen, except the firemen on the Solano, will go to the lower bay to work. Some have been endeavoring to get on the Monticello line. There will be six switching jobs cancelled. Practically all switchmen who live in Benicia will be employed. They will have to go to work at Port Costa, which will be difficult for them, unless the hours are right to connect with the trains.
The handling of the passenger traffic, and everything connected with the change will be worked out according to the present plan to see if it is the best. Until it is actually tried it will not be known if it will be satisfactory. The railroad people who live in Benicia will be under a handicap and it is to be hoped that it can be worked out to their advantage was well as the traveling public. Time will tell and everyone will have to be patient.
The following is the schedule for busses leaving and arriving at Benicia, when the bridge is opened for traffic, as given out by the Southern Pacific Co.:
Leave Benicia: 6:40 a.m., 8:10 a.m., 11:55 a.m., 4:25 p.m., 6:10 p.m., 7:07 p.m.
Arrives Benicia: 8:00 a.m., 9:55 a.m., 1:25 p.m., 5:45 p.m., 7:05 p.m., 8:50 p.m.

Persons desiring to visit Benicia Arsenal on October 15th for the purpose of watching the first train pass over the new Southern Pacific bridge are requested to observe the following:
Traffic police will be stationed at the arsenal to guide cars to an area where parking space will be available and where an excellent view of the bridge can be obtained. Cars will follow the route indicated by the guards and will park only in the designated area. No cars will be admitted to the parking area before 11:15 a.m., and all cars will be required to leave the area by 1:00 p.m. The magazine area and the arsenal grounds in general will be closed to visitors during this period.

The first train under schedule passed over the Martinez-Benicia bridge Wednesday morning a 11:45, putting into service an important link of the Southern Pacific system. The train was crowded with passengers, many of them making the trip to Benicia Junction and return to Martinez to enjoy the thrill of being on the first train. The banks on both sides of the Straits were lined with people to witness the sight.
Preceding the passenger train was a switch engine, to act as pilot. John DeForest, engine foreman was in charge, Charles R. White was the engineer and Frank McCormack and William Dahncke were the switchmen. Charles Hudson, the oldest engineer on the division of the company, was in the cab of the passenger engine, and Al Johnson the oldest conductor in this division was in charge of the train.
Motion pictures were taken of the train, officials of the company and the crew. The same switch crew had the duty of putting the last passenger train, No. 39 on the Solano for the last trip of a passenger train until November 1st when she will again be put into service to transport the official train.
Among those who took the last trip across on the Solano were Mrs. C. P. Culver of Benicia and J. T. Ewing of San Francisco, who were among the school children who rode on the boat on its initial trip across the straits fifty-one years ago. The mother of Mrs. C. A. Erwin made the first trip and Mrs. Erwin was a passenger on the last trip. Ed. Johnson piloted the boat across with Frank Hansen as first mate.
A coincidence was that the late John McClain was an engineer on the Solano when she came to Benicia and his son, Louis McClain was an engineer on one of the last trips of this historic craft.
The Solano holds a real affectionate spot in the hearts of those whose privilege it was to serve aboard her. Many of the men would serve on no other boat if they could avoid it. Her staunchness in serving the company so faithfully during the many years won the admiration of the various members of the crews and it is with a feeling of grief they realize the old boat will be dismantled. No doubt they would much prefer that she be steamed out to the ocean and end her career in the waters of the Pacific. Both vessels are tied up at Port Costa. Steam will be kept up in the Solano until November 1st in case an emergency should arise.
The trip across the Straits on the bridge was without incident. There was no vibration, attesting to the staunchness of the structure and it is destined to stand for many years as a monument to those who planned and built it.
Dr. P. B. Fry, Miss Elizabeth Malone, Mrs. Harold Estey and son Vernon and Mr. and Mrs. William Dykes were passengers on board the first trains over the Martinez-Benicia bridge. Mrs. Estey and Vernon went to Davis for the return trip on an observation car. The other group got aboard at Martinez and went to Benicia Junction and return.

Major George F. Lemon, commanding officer at the Benicia Arsenal will crown the Queen of Progress at the coronation ball scheduled for Friday evening in the Martinez Women’s Club, according to and announcement made by Martinez Chamber of Commerce officials. The ball is the opening feature of the Southern Pacific bridge celebration.
The celebration will continue over Saturday and Sunday and will include the following events on Saturday:
9 a.m. to 1 p.m. – Outboard motor boat races off Martinez waterfront conducted by Outboard Motorboat Association of Northern California.
12 to 12:30 p.m. – Broadcast of bridge christening, daylight fireworks and special train over bridge. Spectators advised to view this event from speaker’s stand on waterfront opposite Southern Pacific Depot.
1:30 p.m. Street parade.
2;15 p.m. Bridge dedication exercises, Martinez waterfront. L. J. Elmquist, president Martinez chamber of commerce; A. F. Bray, master of ceremonies; Raymond E. Claeys, mayor of San Francisco; Paul Shoup, president of the Southern Pacific company; H. I. Benjamin builder of the bridge; Senator Samuel M. Shortridge, dedicatory speaker.
3:30 p.m. – Airport dedication at Associated Oil Company’s Clyde airport. W. P. Hugo, Associated Oil company; Ralph H. Wight, president of Contra Costans, Associated, speaker. A circus conducted under auspices of the Associated Oil Company.
7 p.m. – Thirty minutes of fireworks on the Martinez waterfront.
9 p.m. – Dances at Martinez Women’s Club and I.D.E.S. Hall.
On Sunday there will be a continuation of air circus under auspices of the Associated Oil Company.
A special train from San Francisco will pass through Benicia about 11:30 o’clock which will make the last trip over the Solano. Passengers can take this train at the depot and ride to Martinez to take in the celebration. A small fare will be charged.
Mayor W. L. Crooks and several of the city trustees have accepted invitations to participate in the exercises at Martinez. They will have a special auto in the parade.
Agent Wm. Dwyer states there will be a special coach sent to Benicia for local passengers which will be picked up by the special train.

Natural Gas Turned on in Benicia Today
A large force of men are in Benicia today changing over the gas equipment for natural gas. They arrived early this morning in large busses and other conveyances and are busy all over the city. They will finish today, but a crew will be on duty at the P. G. and E. office for several days to take care of emergencies that may arise.

November 20, 1930 S. P. Boats Will be Wrecked Then Sold
Advices from Southern Pacific headquarters in San Francisco concerning the disposal of the train ferryboats, the Contra Costa and Solano, are to the effect that the boats will be kept in their slips at Post Costa until after the first of the year when they will be dismantled and offered for sale.

January 29, 1930 Captain Charles Benson Passes Away
Funeral services were held Monday for Captain Charles Benson, retired Southern Pacific employee, at the Miller Undertaking Parlors in Oakland. Captain Benson and family lived in Benicia while he was employed on the Solano. He is survived by his widow and two sons. The interment was in the Mountain View Cemetery.
Captain and Mrs. D. Elson of this city were in attendance at the funeral services. The two men were shipmates on the Solano.

April 2, 1931 Solano Taken Below For Dismantling
The Solano, the last of the train ferries from Benicia to Port Costa was taken to the lower bay Saturday where she will be dismantled. Over fifty years of age, the craft was the best known boat of the Southern Pacific Co. ferries, and considered one of the staunchest built by that company. Plowing between Benicia and Port Costa, the Solano carried trains of every description and became known to travelers from all over the world.
The large number of men who have served on her have a soft spot in their heart for the old boat and regret her passing from active service.

September 17, 1931 Old Solano Makes Last Trip Up Bay
The old Solano made her last trip up the Straits Wednesday afternoon when she was towed to a dismantling yard on Suisun Bay. The old boat was towed up by a tug and looked a skeleton of her former self passing up the Straits. She has been at the S. P. shipyard on the lower bay having everything of value taken out of the hull.
The Contra Costa has been purchased by the company having the contract for the Golden Gate Bridge and will be used as a repair shop.

October 15, 1931 Ferry Boat Solano is Being Dynamited
ANTIOCH – The old train ferry Solano, which carried millions of passengers on the San Francisco – Sacramento route of the Southern Pacific, until the Carquinez Straits railroad bridge was completed last year, is creating some excitement here in its last few weeks of existence.
Dynamite is being used to wreck the veteran vessel, and the explosions have caused alarm in Antioch and Pittsburg, where many residents have mistaken them for earthquakes.
The explosive is used to loosen the pieces of heavy machinery that cannot be budged from the hull by other means. The dynamite is packed in mud around the machinery and detonating loosens the base.

March 16, 1947 Dynamite Blasts Marks End Of Old Ferry “Contra Costa”
The first of a series of dynamite blasts Friday destroyed part of the hulk of the old “Contra Costa,” 460 foot ferry which formerly ran between Morrow Cove and Contra Costa county, and which was abandoned after its purpose had been usurped by the construction of the Carquinez bridge which opened in 1927. This is the first of a series of blast experiments on the hulk ordered by Capt. Claude B, Mayo, academy superintendent. Carrying out his orders, Lt. George W. Myers, maintenance engineer at the Academy, supervised work of demolition experts who inserted charges of stick dynamite in the ferry, with the purpose of blasting the ship’s remains into sections. These sections will be dragged to shore with safety and greater facility, and then disposed of, probably through burning.
The old Contra Costa ferry remains are one of three hulks ordered eradicated by Captain Mayo, primarily in the interests of safety, following the recent drowning of a little girl who had slipped through the boundary fence of the Academy grounds, and fell unnoticed from one of the hulks on which she was playing. Remains of the other two ships have been burned to the water line and are now barely visible.
Of interest to many Vallejoans who used to travel regularly on the old ferry is this short history of the “Contra Costa,” compiled yesterday by Captain Mayo and released simultaneously with the start of the ship’s destruction.
“Fast disappearing into the pages of history are two familiar landmarks at the California Maritime Academy – the old sailing ship “Bangor,” and another more familiar to Solano and Contra Costa county residents, the car ferry, “Contra Costa” now being burned and wrecked to clear up the shoreline of the Academy.
“Little is known locally of the history of the Bangor. However the Contra Costa is well known to many as the car ferry that ran between Benicia and Port Costa for many years. The State Department of Architecture asked for bids from local contractors for the removal of these hulks when it was decided that the California Maritime Academy was to be established at its present location, back in 1943.
“However, because of the urgency of wartime work, and the possibility of costly delays which might be encountered by the contractors, bids were determined at such a high figure that it was decided to let the old hulks stay as they were. Recently, the personnel at the Academy decided that the old hulks should go.
“The job was started by first burning them down to the water line last month. Now the Healy-Tibbetts Construction Company, demolition experts, are conducting preliminary experiments toward blasting.
“Final disposal will be accomplished by dynamiting at advantageous points; afterwards dragging the pieces up to a spot on the shoreline and burning them.
The history of the Contra Costa was given to the Maritime Academy by an old Vallejo resident, Carl Z. Kimball, formerly a switch-engine engineer with the Southern Pacific, and who, in the old days, pushed cars on and off the “Contra Costa” before the first World War I. Kimball, or “Pop” as he is better known to his friends.

3/07/2008 4:58 PM  
Blogger CPRR Discussion Group said...

From: "Katharine F. Baker" kfb2+@pitt.edu

Didn't SP archive its employment records? And if so, aren't they available for scholarly research? I'm curious to know whether my great-grandfather was a night watchman the whole 35 years he worked on/at the "Solano," as I'd guess that was only his final position in his later years when he may no longer have been physically up to doing harder labor. Supposedly he badly injured (fractured?) a leg near the end of his working years, resulting ultimately in his retirement. Would SP have records re this accident?


3/07/2008 5:24 PM  
Blogger CPRR Discussion Group said...

From: "Karen McBrayer" kmcbrayer@comcast.net

My name is Karen L. Ertle-McBrayer. I was asked by my sister-in-law to fill out a family tree form. Out of curiosity I googled the name of my Great Grandfather - Capt. J. K. Remington. I had heard stories about him and had tried before to find out info to no avail. I was surprised to come up with the article about his death.

Do you know if there is any more information about him? ...


3/31/2012 2:39 PM  
Blogger CPRR Discussion Group said...

From: "Evan Lawley" evan.lawley@gmail.com
Subject: PBS program CA gold

... I just watched the PBS program talking about the Solano. The historians on the program repeatedly said they have not yet come across a larger ferry in history. I'd like to share with you a possibly contender. The rail ferry that shuttled locomotives, etc. across Lake Baikal at the turn on the 20th century to continue their journey on the Trans-siberian railway. The ship was called the Baikal. Here's a photo. Was it larger? ...

—Evan Lawley, The Pennsylvania State University

11/18/2012 11:46 PM  
Blogger CPRR Discussion Group said...

From: "Kyle K. Wyatt" kylekwyatt@gmail.com

The Baikal appears to have only had a single track, and carried 25 cars, considerably smaller than the Solano.


11/19/2012 11:36 AM  
Blogger CPRR Discussion Group said...

From: "Kevin Bunker" mikadobear45@yahoo.com

The "larger" definition depends on how we consider the size of the hull, deck capacity and gross vessel weight.

There were US-Canada Great Lakes car ferries that held as much or more than the Solano or its sister Contra Costa, and were in a sense sea-going ships with ship-like bows that opened to admit cars to the holding decks. The Lake Baikal ferry was another contender, and somewhat resembled the Great Lakes car ferries. There were also other pre-WW I open deck car ferries (not too unlike the Solano and Contra Costa) used by SPCo's Texas & Louisiana Lines to transfer cars in the Gulf Coast Mississippi delta.

—Kevin Bunker, Oakland, California

11/19/2012 11:49 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yes, the common method of publishing pictures in 1860's-1880's newspapers and magazines was to copy photographs by hand as wood block engravings to make into printing plates.

5/29/2015 8:14 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

From: "Nano García" cryolla@gmail.com
Subject: Building Solano HO Scale

I’m planning build Solano in HO scale for my point to point layout called Montecastro Cajon Pass, here in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

I still on research stage, and I having difficult to obtain clear sizes. ...

Could you tell me some tips for construction? ...


4/28/2016 7:03 AM  

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