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The Madera County Historian
Madera County Historical Society Quarterly
(Used by permission)

THE "IRON HORSE" ADVANCES
compiled by
GUY CROW

Volume 1, Number 1, January, 1961

 Let us travel back a few years and find ourselves reliving some of those historic railroad construction days advancing through San Joaquin Valley.

FEBRUARY 7, 1672 - Arthur Brown, Supt. of Bridges of the Central Pacific Company, is preparing for the erection of the San Joaquin River bridge with a large force of men. The truss bridge is framed and ready for shipment at the company's yard in Oakland as soon as the railroad reaches the stream. Graders are preparing the roadbed in the county and, weather favoring, the grade will be completed as far as the San Joaquin River by middle of March. Surprise was expressed if the cars were not running by first week in June.

FEBRUARY 14, 1872 - The SNELLING ARGUS re-ports the Visalia division of Central Pacific is advancing southward and is completed to a point near the Chowchilla River southern boundary of Merced County.  At the "mile-rate-a-day" of progress, the road to Visalia would be completed about the last of May.

FEBRUARY 28, 1872 - Pile drivers are at work on the bridge across the Fresno River and graders on both sides of the stream preparing the road bed.  Track Is laid, construction trains running to the south side of Ash Slough, six miles south of the Chowchilla River, and progress continuing at our "mile-rate-a-day".  The Chowchilla bridge is a temporary one.  THE EXPOSITOR was informed that at least 2000 laborers, white and Chinese, are on construction and prophesied that the "Iron Horse" will be "snorting and panting on the banks of the San Joaquin River before the end of the month."

MARCH 6, 1872 - It is stated that the rails of the San Joaquin Valley branch of the Southern Pacific will be completed to the San Joaquin River within two weeks. It is learned that the railroad has bought two sections of land immediately south of the river for a townsite there and talk is arising among Millerton businessmen of moving to it.

MARCH 8, 1872 - Track completed to the Fresno River on March 11th and bridge also, A switch will be Installed south of the Fresno River for freight cars and goods may be hauled to that point from Merced.  Mule teams are hauling the river bridge timbers from the end of the road.  "The travelIng is horrible and twenty-four mules were attached to a timber hauling wagon."
MARCH 27, 1872 - Locomotive crossed the San Joaquin River on Saturday, the 23rd and track-laying south of it begun.

EPITAPH - our railroad had now reached what was to become Berendo. Leroy Dennis, former sheriff, erected a store and hotel, June, 1872, and on February 12, 1873, the first United States Post Office in what is now Madera County established. Berendo is no a relict of the past.

Last update: April 6, 2001
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