Tuesday, May 10, 2005


From: Hsweetser@aol.com

Here are my thoughts on Coalinga:

The usual version is that there was a "Coaling Station A," "Coaling Station B" and "Coaling Station C," and that "Coaling Station A" was eventually shortened to "Coalinga."

There are several reasons for me to conclude this scenario is just a myth. To start with, the Huron branch was extended west in 1888 to serve just one mine, that of the San Joaquin Valley Coal Mining Company, and so it's unlikely there were multiple coaling stations. The name "Coaling Station A" does not appear on any SP documents that I know of. Finally, press reports indicate the name "Coalinga" was in use fairly quickly after the line opened to traffic on July 14, 1888. In other words, not much time for "Coaling Station A" to have been used:

August 22, 1888 Fresno Weekly Expositor (p.2) - "The mines are situated, as before stated, not far distant from the West Side railroad, being 3 1/2 miles from a station called Coalinga, which will be the shipping point of the coal."

The newspaper may have used the term "mines" because of multiple shafts, but really, there was just one mine at the location (which was closer to 3 miles from Coalinga). The end of the sentence implies that the shipping of coal hadn't even begun yet (i.e., "WILL be the shipping point of the coal").

October 5, 1888 Railroad Gazette (p. 661) - "The extension west from Huron in Fresno County, Cal., has been completed for about 21 miles. A new town called "Coalinga" has been laid out at the end of the track."

Until some convincing evidence indicates otherwise, I am not going to believe the "Coaling Station A" scenario.

John Sweetser