Tuesday, July 08, 2014

CPRR change of ownership and route

From: "Clarence Basso" cbasso@charter.net

Can you direct me to an information source regarding the change of ownership of the Central Pacific Railroad to the Southern Pacific Railroad line in northern Nevada?

When did the SPRR acquire the CPRR right-of-way?

When did the SPRR modify its route west of Lovelock, Nevada, from roughly paralleling then US40, now I-80, to its route via Hazen, etc. and why? ...

—Clarence Basso, Reno, Nevada


Anonymous Anonymous said...

From: "Kyle Wyatt" kylekwyatt@gmail.com

Ahh, a common question, with an unexpected answer.

The short answer is that Southern Pacific Railroad NEVER owned Central Pacific.

The long answer involves corporate structures and strategies, as they evolved over the years.

About 1868 the owners of the Central Pacific, the "Associates" (as they referred to themselves – "Big 4" is a 20th century name, and largely inaccurate; there were generally either more than 5, Judah not included in that, or less than 5 – but all that is another story), acquired the Southern Pacific Railroad, which ran south from San Francisco (including the San Francisco & San Jose RR). The Southern Pacific RR was intended to form part of the southern-most transcontinental route authorized by Congress. A section crossing the coast Ranges into the San Joaquin Valley was intended, but never constructed. Instead in the 1870's the Central Pacific extended its own line south from Lathrop (near Stockton) to a point where it intersected with the intended Southern Pacific route.

The part of the Southern Pacific RR south from San Francisco continued to be operated by its own organization as the Southern Pacific RR, Northern Division (under control of the Associates, but operated independent of the Central Pacific organization), but the new line constructed in the San Joaquin Valley and continuing to Los Angeles and beyond operated as the Southern Pacific RR, Southern Division, and was leased to the Central Pacific for operation. Note that OWNERSHIP of both the Northern and Southern Divisions remained with Southern Pacific RR; only operational control was divided by leasing the Southern Pacific RR, Southern Division to Central Pacific. Continuing, the Southern Pacific of Arizona and the Southern Pacific of New Mexico were also leased to Central Pacific for operations, as were briefly the Texas lines (but that is also another story). Equipment (locomotives and cars) were also purchased in the name of the Southern Pacific RR; some being assigned to the Northern Division, and some operating on the Southern Division as part of the lease to the Central Pacific.

Continued below

7/09/2014 8:18 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

By the early 1880's the Associates (those that remained – Hopkins died in 1878) were not happy with aspects of their controlling organizational structure and decided to make a change. On March 17, 1884 they incorporated the Southern Pacific Company (no "Railroad" in the name) as a holding company, and ultimately an operating company. In early 1885 both the Central Pacific Railroad and the Southern Pacific Railroad were leased to the Southern Pacific Company. Note both the Southern Pacific Railroad and the Central Pacific Railroad corporations continued to exist. It wasn't until 1959 that the Central Pacific was finally merged into the Southern Pacific Company – the Southern Pacific Railroad having been merged into the Southern Pacific Company in 1955. So the Southern Pacific RAILROAD never owned the Central Pacific, and Southern Pacific Company didn't fully take the Central Pacific over until 1959.

This is only a brief outline of the various corporations organized, leased, and absorbed over the years. For instance the Central Pacific Railroad was reorganized and reincorporated as the Central Pacific Railway in 1899 to facilitate paying off the bonds that the Federal Government had loaned to the railroad during construction in the 1860's. (Note as a land grant railroad the Federal government GAVE land to the railroad, but did NOT GIVE money – they only loaned it, and it had to be paid back with interest. The government also got reduced freight rates on all Government freight – until after World War II, when Congress finally decided the land grant railroads had much more that adequately compensated the Government for support during original construction.)

To answer the other part of that question, the Central Pacific IDENTITY was gradually submerged and absorbed by the Southern Pacific IDENTITY between 1885 and 1959. The Central Pacific name continued to be used on equipment, etc, into the 1890's at least, and the CP reporting marks continued in use into the teens, and possibly the 1920's. But the other part is that equipment owned by different railroads controlled by the Associates was mixed around as needed from the 1870's onward, so you might see a Southern Pacific RR locomotive in Nevada, or a Central Pacific locomotive in Southern California.

The Harriman improvements of the first decade of the 20th century included altering the route to run via Hazen. While this line was longer than the original route, is had significantly less grade and so was more efficient. It also necessitated moving the Division Point from Wadsworth (which was bypassed) to Sparks.


7/09/2014 8:18 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Santa Clarita has announced the opening next week of the Vista Canyon Multi-Modal Center, the fourth Metrolink commuter rail station in the city:
"To bridge history, art and community together, the Vista Canyon Multi-Modal Center features a brand-new permanent art piece titled, 'Union at the End of the Tunnel.' The civic art piece was inspired by the joining of the Southern Pacific and Central Pacific Railroad tracks by a golden spike in 1876, highlighting the contributions made by the Chinese laborers recruited to work on the tunnel connecting San Francisco to Los Angeles. “Featuring a mix of historical photos and metal tubes, this art piece mimics the silhouette of the San Gabriel Mountains and evokes the rhythm of the railroad running across the landscape."

10/14/2023 8:34 AM  

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