(4-6-0); 1 light consolidation (2-8-0) and 6 consolidations (2-8-0). There was also one steel under frame private car for Mr. John D. Spreckels, built by the Pacific Electric Railway at Torrance, California, for a cost of $78,000.
Just as soon as the S. D. & A. was opened for business, the people of San Diego were ready to use the line for their services. Mr. John D. Spreckels was the president and the S. P. sent the balance of the officials to the property. These consisted of Traffic and Mechanical Departments which for a time handled the Operating Department.
Business on this railroad was very good and it was thought that the investment would be good. But 5 months later the first of the trouble that was to come to the S. D. & A. started.
On May 10, 1920, Tunnel No. 7, which was 1200 feet long was covered by a slide. This stopped operation of the railroad for 199 days, from May 10, 1920 to November 23, 1920, with a cost of $44,360 to reopen the line. Now comes ths training I mentinned by the S. P. of their officers. Now the S. P. reviewed their personnel and sent Mr. A. T. Mercier to the S. D. & A. from the Portland Division in 1921. He was a man that had all the basic experiences. The S. D. & A. is one railroad that has all three basic elements to contend with. The heat of Imperial Valley, the cold and snow of the mountain at Hipass and the excessive rains up to not too many years ago lasted from November to April. Mr. Mercier came to the S. D. & A. as vice president. I was on the Portland Division at the time. I came to the S. D. & A. in 1922. I came to the S. D.& A. as trainmaster, yardmaster and chief dispatcher, which titles cover the operating department. However there was then a superintendent at San Diego.
After the railroad was opened in 1920, business, both passenger and freight, was surging and the road was making money. The passenger business increased to such an extent a second passenger train was Inaugurated to run tri-weekly. It carried a through sleeper and coach, San Diego to New Orleans, connecting with the Sunset Limited at Niland. The regular passenger train handled a through sleeper and coach, San Diego to Chicago, connecting with the Golden State at Yuma. In 1923 this additional service was put on daily.
In 1922, we would handle 80 loads of rock per day out of Otay Gravel Pit, l800 cars of lettuce and cantaloupes a season from Seeley to El Cent ro. We also hauled trains of cottonseed from Imperial Valley to the Potash Oil Plant, near Chula Vista. We also handled livestock to Potash for feeding. 300 to 400 cars a season were handled out of El Cajon containing Citrus and Grapes. The lettuce and cantaloupe business ended in 1924 when the crops went by truck to El Centro.
But even with the loss of the lettuce and cantaloupes we would lo cate other business on our line. The Portland Cement Company bought a large deposite of gypsum and built a plant at Plaster City. The plant originally cost $1,000,000. The U. S. Gypsum Company later bought the plant and enlarged it by $7,000,000. We now handle up to as many as 86 loads per day from that plant.
From 1922, until 1926 our railroad did very good. We were again beset by heavy rains and on December 8, 1926 our railroad washed out from Carriso Gorge to El Centro. On the day of this washout I was on the passenger train from San Diego to El Centro, where I was to meet Mr. William Sproule, then president of the S. P. We were to handle his private car to San Diego that night. When we left Jacumba it commenced to rain, and by the time our train reached Carriso Gorge, we found the water was running over the track. I told the engineer to stop and I walk-ahead around the sharp curves to inspect the track. We made it through
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