Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Question: Date station name changed from Burson to Helisma

From: "Salvatore Manna" dharmadog@earthlink.net

I live in a small Calaveras County, California town called Burson. It was founded when the San Joaquin & Sierra Nevada railroad built a station here in 1884. By 1888, the Southern Pacific had purchased the narrow gauge line and in 1904 converted it to standard gauge. At some point--believed to be between 1888 and 1912--the railroad changed the name of the station from Burson to Helisma. Where can I access, or have someone access for me, a series of annual railroad maps or timetables, for example, that could pinpoint the year of the name change? I have scoured the Internet, any book I could lay my hands on, County archives, etc. – I'm a professional journalist – but have yet to find an answer. HELP!




Blogger CPRR Discussion Group said...

I'd pay a visit to the California State Railroad Museum Library in Old Sacramento – open to the public Tuesday through Saturday from 1:00 to 5:00. They have a large number of Southern Pacific timetables in their collection. Check the Stockton Division employees timetables before 1920 (and perhaps start before 1912). Alternately you could look in the Official Guide of Railways (issued monthly with timetables of all railroads). The librarian might also know of some other source on Southern Pacific station names.

I've spent some time researching the San Joaquin & Sierra Nevada line, primarily in the narrow gauge days, but hadn't noticed the name change. I'm guessing it was at the time of the gauge change (1904) or shortly after.

Kyle K. Wyatt
Curator of History & Technology
California State Railroad Museum
111 "I" Street
Sacramento, CA 95814

My work address is: kwyatt@parks.ca.gov
My personal address is: kylewyatt@aol.com

6/07/2005 8:59 PM  
Blogger CPRR Discussion Group said...

From: "MacGregor, Bruce A" bruce.macgregor@hp.com

Something you should be aware of (but may or may not answer your question) are financial records of the San Joaquin & Sierra Nevada housed at both CSRM– the State Railroad Museum in Sacramento, as well as Stanford University Special Collections. These records are cash books and journals, and record primarily financial data about the SJ&SN. They are lengthy and labor-intensive to go through. I personally have not looked at them (I know a historian who has surveyed a portion of the SJ&SN records) but have spent time looking through similar records for other California railroads of the period. In the case I'm familiar with, the cash books of the North Pacific Coast listed stations in order to report on the monthly income from ticket sales, freight forwarding, and other kinds of revenue-producing transactions. If you're willing to systematically look through these books (assuming there is a complete record) you might well uncover the year and month that a station name was changed.

There are a lot of variables– foremost whether CSRM or Stanford has a complete enough run of SJ&SN records to include the date you're after. I'd start with CSRM's research library and try to access dates of their holdings on-line. You'll have to actually go to the CSRM library to use the material.

Good hunting


6/07/2005 9:43 PM  
Blogger CPRR Discussion Group said...

From: littlechoochoo81@netzero.net

If you can find access to the Official Railway Guides for 1888 to 1904 or whatever date you want they will show you the names on that branch under listings for Southern Pacific. The Library of Congress should have a full set and the California State Railroad Museum may also have those years. My Official Guides are not complete.

Lynn Farrar

6/08/2005 10:43 AM  
Blogger CPRR Discussion Group said...

From: "Mullaly, Larry" LMullaly@roguecc.edu

My suggestion would be to go the California State Railroad Museum Library in Sacramento and ask for the "Southern Pacific Officers and Agencies" listings for the years 1888-1904. Assuming the branch line is listed at the time the change took place, it should be relatively easy to verify the year of the name change.

From about 1895 on the library also has usually complete sets of "Southern Pacific Employes' [sic] Timetables." If you can locate the division to which the branch was assigned, you should be able to find the appropriate timetables."

Good luck!

Larry Mullaly

6/08/2005 5:25 PM  
Blogger CPRR Discussion Group said...

From: littlechoochoo81@netzero.net

Thanks to Larry Mullaly I looked in my own station list and found the change to have taken place between March 1, 1891 and August 1, 1892.

6/09/2005 5:37 PM  
Blogger CPRR Discussion Group said...

From: Hsweetser@aol.com

The best source for such information are Southern Pacific documents called "List of Officers, Agencies and Stations," which can be found in the collection of the California State Railroad Museum Library in Sacramento.

In the list dated April 17, 1890, the name was Burson. In a Western Division employee timetable dated August 1, 1906, the name was Helisma, so this narrows the search a bit.

It may not be necessary to visit the library in person to get the information. Try asking the staff to send you photocopies of the "List of Officers, Agencies and Stations" between 1890 and 1906, specifically, the pages that show the Lodi Branch or the Valley Spring Branch (the line could be listed under either name). Or maybe the staff could determine from the lists when the name was changed and foward this info. Then they would not have to mail a bunch of photocopies.

Many of the SP "List of Officers, Agencies and Stations" documents in the library have handwritten notations on the pages that were added by the original owners that give exact dates of name changes.

Western Division timetables would probably not be too helpful since the library has only one before 1906, which has a July 3, 1904 date.

John Sweetser

6/13/2005 6:34 PM  

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