S-8 Railroads Lock Horns


Railroads Lock Horns in Bitter Rivalry

(Sun-Telegram Historical Writer)
Copyright (1960), The Sun. Reprinted by permission

...Continued from page S-7:

continued after the issue of April 7, 1860, and the new San Bernardino Herald issued its Vol. I No. 1 on June 16.

Ames didn't last as long in San Bernardino as he had in San Diego. He was developing an ever increasing thirst for California brandy and he found the issuing of a weekly paper interfered with his drinking time. Thus the Herald suspended in November.

A few more issues appeared at irregular periods then the creditors stepped in and appointed one J. S. Waite as editor in January 1861. Waite lasted three months. In April the paper was sold by the creditors to Edwin A. Sherman, who changed the name to the San Bernardino Patriot.

Sherman was ardently pro-Union. He had no sooner began his publication than he claimed to have received threatening letters advising he stop printing Union sentiments. San Bernardino was rated as a strong secessionist spot.

On July 27, 1861, Sherman told Maj. James H. Carleton that the pro-Confederate groups planed to blow up the Patriot office.

Sherman's reports brought a camp of California volunteers. A camp was established on the west side of Mt. Vernon Ave., south of Mill St. During the Mojave War in the 1850s the same site had been occupied by soldiers.


Later the camp was moved to the Tippecanoe crossing of the Santa Ana River on the "Mission Rd" to San Gorgonio Pass.

Southwest of San Bernardino the establishment had been Camp Banning during the Mojave War and Camp Prentiss. On Tippecanoe it was named Camp Carleton.

The camp of soldiers plus the organization of the Union League kept San Bernardino outwardly loyal.

Sherman and his newspaper did not last through the war, however. He was only printing 90 papers and was "starved out." He packed his press on a wagon and took it to the Esmeralda district at Aurora where he became an officer in the Nevada militia, a thundering oracle of the Union and also an ardent consumer of the same brandy that had laid low his predecessor, Ames.

Prior to the Civil War California pushed constantly for better communication. Courier mail service was established over the California Trail from Salt Lake west to Sacramento. Then James Birch obtained a contract for a mule mail between San Diego and San Antonio, Tex.

The big advance was in 1858 when the famous Butterfield Overland Mail was started from Missouri to San Francisco, but over a long ox-bow route that dipped into Texas and skirted the Mexican border through Arizona.


From Fort Yuma the line was planned to cross the Colorado Desert to Dos Palmas, the Coachella Valley to Palm Springs, the San Gorgonio Pass, San Timeteo Canyon, San Bernardino, Cajon Pass and over the Mojave to Tehachapi Pass, thence on to San Francisco.

A political tussle started over the route. Los Angeles raised a sizable fund and, without even the knowledge of the postmaster general, the route from Yuma was changed to the Carrizo Gorge, Temecula, Temescal, Chino, Los Angeles, Newhall and Tejon Pass.

San Bernardino was left high and dry way off the line. Butterfield's route had to quit when the Confederates held portions of the line through Texas and New Mexico. Then Uncle Sam started a stage line along the Old Overland route along with the celebrated Pony Express contract.

The valley witnessed an agricultural experiment in 1857 which proved so successful it changed the entire production scene in the next few years. Anson Van Leuven brought a few orange trees from the Los Angeles area and planted them on his ranch in Old San Bernardino. They thrived.


People drove for miles to see the phenomenon of the golden fruit actually growing on trees. Oter [sic] members of the Van Leuven family followed with more plantings, as did the Crams in East Highlands.

A Couple of decades later Luther Tibbets over in Riverside brought in an experimental seed-less orange which the United States Department of Agriculture had imported from Brazil for testing. It was the famous Washington navel.

Soon the foothill areas and much of the valley land were covered with orange groves.

Possibly there had been orange trees planted around the asistencia in the later mission period but, if so, none survived after abandonment of that outpost station; so the Van Leuven planting ranks as the first in the entire inland district.

Three years after the successful orange introduction, the streets of San Bernardino rang with the cry of "gold." Following the famous American River discovery of 1848, the gold miners and prospectors had gradually pressed farther and farther south along the Sierra Nevada.


Rich diggings were found at such places as Angels Camp, Murphys, Columbia, and Jamestown. Next it was the Maricopa country that produced new excitement. Then, in the late 50s, there was the big rush to the Kern River which brought the start of Keyesville, Quartzburg, Whiskey Flat, and Havilah.

Some gold was found in Bear Valley and also in Lytle Creek. To the Bear Valley diggings came an ex-easterner, William F. Holcomb, who had been disappointed in trying to find a good claim in the Kern River fields.

The only route open to Bear Valley was a steep pack trail up the Santa Ana Canyon which was choked with snow in winter months. The miners in the mountains were on short rations, so lots were drawn for some to hunt meat while others panned for gold.

Most successful bear hunter of the bunch was Holcomb, who on one hunt tracked a wounded bear over the valley's north ridge into an adjoining valley where richer gold deposits were found.


The new valley, promptly named Holcomb Valley, produced gold in such quantity that a full scale gold rush was soon underway.

Belleville, the biggest center of cabins, became a typical western mining Camp with saloons, dance halls and stores. For $2,000 Jed Van Dusen, the camp blacksmith cut a road down canyon to the Mojave Desert at Deadman Point and thence over the relatively flat land of southern Apple Valley to a junction with a new wagon road at the Verde Ranch.

The new wagon road was the Brown Toll Road built up the Cajon. John Brown Sr, owned the toll road franchise, and even operated a ferry on the Colorado River at the new army post of Fort Mojave.

With a road Belleville grew until it claimed briefly to be second in size to only San Francisco and Sacramento. The miners wanted the county seat moved there. They had an election and lost the fight by only three votes, even with one Belleville precinct's ballot box burned.

Tradition has it a county official kicked the box into a bonfire while the votes were being counted. He just didn't want to move up into the mountains.


Close on the heels of the Holcomb Valley gold discovery came news of rich silver deposits far out on the desert at Ivanpah. Those were the years of the big bonanza up in Nevada's Virginia City and the Ivanpah find sparked another big rush.

A few miles north of the San Bernardino-Inyo line a group of stage robbers was holed up in a canyon of the Panamint Range. They, too, found large silver out-croppings and Panamint City boomed with such queer business associates as United States senators and bandits.

Silver was cast in huge cannon balls weighing hundreds of pounds to foil robberies and a railroad was even started to connect Los Angeles and Panamint via Cajon Pass.

Caesar Myerstein, San Bernardino merchant, ran a stage line to Panamint. San Bernardino became more and more the supply and outfitting point for the mines. After Panamint came numerous mineral discoveries all over the Mojave Desert, the Waterman Mine north of Barstow and then, the biggest silver camp of all, the Calico.


On the heels of the Civil War a transcontinental railroad was built east from Oakland and west from Omaha to join at Promontory Point in northern Utah. The pioneer overland rails of the Union Pacific and Central Pacific were soon followed by rails down the San Joaquin Valley and by engineering marvels over the Tehachapi Pass.

This was the Southern Pacific which planned to build from the Tehachapi across the desert to the Cajon and thence west via the San Gorgonio Pass and Yuma. In Cajon Pass there was a brush between engineers of the Southern Pacific and the projected railroad to Panamint. The Panamint crew won and the SP built south from the Tehachapi to Newhall and Los Angeles and east, starting the town of Colton en route.

Colton and Riverside were, after San Bernardino, the pioneer American period towns in the county as it existed in the 1870s. The little mexican settlement at Agua Mansa, had been wiped out in a great flood in 1862 when the Santa Ana River spread between the present courthouse grounds and the bluff on the north side of Redlands.

Soldiers in their camp on Tippecanoe were flooded out and established a temporary camp north of San Bernardino where they dried out their luggage and food stuffs.


The 1862 flood brought a remarkable change in San Bernardino architecture. The native adobe, used by the pioneers along with cabins of logs, failed to stand up under the heavy rains. Walls and chimneys collapsed.

The rebuilding brought a better type of frame architecture along with some brick, which began making its appearance after a series of bad downtown fires.

San Bernardino had suffered a major setback in 1857 with the loss of the Mormon colonists. Another one came in the post-Civil War hard times of the 1870s. The mining boom tempered the effect of the second slump, although a severe drought cycle all but ruined dry farmers and cattlemen.

The drought completed what the high taxes of the 1850s had started for the large ranchos of the state. Few survived. New owners took over foreclosed ranchos saw that the day of large but scantily developed ranches was gone. Subdivisions followed and, spurred by more railroad construction, the fabulous boom of the 80s.

Redlands, Etiwanda, Rialto, Chino and Ontario were but a few of the new towns and cities that started in the 1880s. The main streams of settlement were from the Mississippi and Ohio Valleys. Climate, the land where there was no winter snow, became publicized as the California boosters talked and wrote to friends and prospective neighbors.


Railroad rivalry was the mainspring of this great boom. San Bernardino, left without a railroad by changes in the SP plans, was terminus of the little California Southern, the other end of which was National City, a San Diego suburb.

Then the Santa Fe came west from New Mexico under the franchise of the Atlantic & Pacific which it had bought. At Needles on the Colorado River it was blocked temporarily by a Southern Pacific branch from Mojave across the desert.

Some maneuvers, the threat of parallel lines across the relatively unproductive desert, and the trade of some New Mexico and Sonora trackage gave the Santa Fe the Needles-Mojave line.

Then Fred T. Perris, San Bernardino County surveyor, found the east pass through the Cajon and the little San Bernardino rail terminus was linked into the transcontinental system.


The Santa Fe built down Santa Ana Canyon from Riverside, and also to San Bernardino via Pasadena and the foothill route. Once the new railroad reached California, the great railroad war started.

Tickets from the Mississippi River to Los Angeles sold for lower and lower prices until they were down to $5; finally, for a few hours, to just $1. Then the railroads decided both were losing. So back up went the fares but not until Southern California's [sic] population had doubled.

Some of the many new "cities" didn't survive the boom. In San Bernardino few can now point out the location of such places as Gladysta, Grapeland or even Rochester.

Gladstone and Port Chicago in Los Angeles County have been forgotten.

Health seekers came in droves on the heels of the boom. Beaumont and Banning, the latter especially, became havens for persons with respiratory troubles.

Hot springs, so numerous in California, sprouted resort and sanitarium hotels. San Bernardino Valley and the San Jactnio Valley were liberally dotted with such spas for whose waters great curative powers were claimed.

Some of the mast extravagant claims were those printed by Darby & Lyon, Arrowhead Hot Springs proprietors during the 1880s.


Agriculture, meanwhile, continued to advance with the growing local market, making possible cultivation of many crops that it did not pay to send east.

Apricot and peach orchards dotted the cooler valley lands that were not climatically suited to citrus, and grapes were planted in baronial sized tracts to fill up the light soils of the Cucumonga district.

During the 1880s it became evident that many places did not have enough water to develop as their founders visioned. Rochester, for instance, planned 5,000 acres of oranges and an equal grape acreage. The grapes would grow all right, but the citrus needed a water supply that was non existent.

Grapeland built a large cement faced reservoir and then, by court order, was prevented from drawing on Lytle Creek for its wants.


The pioneer stone dam was built to create Big Bear Lake, but company plans to include irrigation for the more distant Moreno Valley were balked.

Water development through creation of great mountain reservoirs was still the dominant idea to sustain future Southland growth in the early 1900s.

The huge Lake Arrowhead reservoir was created but others, in such spots as Grass Valley, were never built.

The growth of the 1880s produced not only expansion of cities and agricultural lands. It also brought inevitable rivalries and tensions.

The cultural background of the new communities was at considerable variance with the older California thinking. In general the new residents from the East and Midwest were more prone to adopt restrictive legislation.

Riverside, especially, felt that San Bernardino with its traditional "live and let live" philosophy was no place for a county seat. The courthouse, built in 1874, was hopelessly outgrown but bond issues for a new one were defeated.


Finally the Board of Supervisors started a new courthouse by direct taxation. Riverside decided to form its own county.

In 1910 San Bernardino felt very proud. It celebrated its centennial with elaborate parades and pagantry [sic] lasting for a week.

A cornerstone was laid on the site where historians said Fr. Francisco Dumetz had conducted the first services May 20, 1810, and named the valley.

Bishop Conaty of the Los Angeles diocese came out and officiated at the cornerstone rites.


The next year, 1911, San Bernardino held the first National Orange Show. In 1920 the city had reached over 18,000 inhabitants, having practically doubled in population each decade since 1900.

The 1920s brought even more rapid growth, with city limits extended north to Little Mountain practically rebuilt with such structures as the Andreson Bldg., Harris Co. department store, Antlers and California Hotels, and the present Court House.

Advance slowed during the depression years of the 1930s. And building was restricted during the war years of the early 1940s, only to more than make up far the lag in the ballooning expansion that began with V-J Day.

Today. May 20, 1960, marks 150 years since the first small start of white civilization was made in the great Southern California interior at San Bernardino.

Here now a city of approximately 100,000 residents covers the scenes where the conical brush huts of native families gave way to the adobe ranch homes and cattle fields of rancheros and later to the homes and farms of devout God-fearing colonists from Salt Lake.

Such, in brief, is San Bernardino's story -- the story of a century and a half.

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