About two weeks following the historic gold-spike ceremony marking the completion of the San Diego & Arizona Railway, on November 30, 1919, the first SD & A train departed San Diego for El Centro, CA, the eastern terminus of the new line. It was there that connections could be made to the Southern Pacific Railroad and its national rail system. The next afternoon, December 1, 1919, the first return trip arrived back in San Diego at Union Station (formerly and currently the Santa Fe Depot). A massive crowd awaited this momentous arrival. John D. Spreckels was in the cab of the locomotive leading the historic arrival. To kick off a 6-day celebration, called “Transcontinental Week,” Mr. Spreckels hosted a grand banquet that night at the Hotel del Coronado, which he owned. On the menu were “Brawley Rack of Lamb, Printanier,” “Candied Sweet Potatoes, Jacumba,” and other tasty delights.
On the evening of Friday, November 1, 2019, as part of a year-long SD&A Railway Centennial celebration, the Pacific Southwest Railway Museum will attempt to duplicate many of the details, and especially the spirit, of Spreckels’ banquet. The SD&A Centennial Gala Dinner will include all of the 1919 menu ingredients, but with a modern flair and a scrumptious vegetarian option. Delectable appetizers, salad, sides, and dessert will escort the imposing meal. To pay homage to Spreckels’ Coronado location for his 1919 banquet, this Gala Dinner will also be held in Coronado and, where else, at the John D. Spreckels Center at 1019 Seventh Street, right next door to the Coronado Public Library and across the street from Spreckels Park, both donated to the city of Coronado by the revered philanthropist and guiding force behind the SD&A Railway.
The evening will also include a no-host happy hour and well-stocked bar with specialty drinks custom-designed for the occasion, musical entertainment, and a brief history of Spreckels’ “Impossible Railroad.” A lively and entertaining after-dinner speaker will make for a full and enchanting evening. Of coure, there will be the obligatory champagne toast to the 100-year-old railroad, and guests will be invited to take home their specially engraved flute. Door prizes include an all-expense paid stay at Coronado’s Glorietta Bay Inn, formerly the home of John D. and his family for almost 20 years until his death in 1926 at age 72.
In honor of the historic 100-year career of the venerable SD&A, dinner will cost $100 per person, and the number of dining guests will be capped at the maximum of 100. Dinner tickets must be purchased in advance since no tickets can be sold at the dinner venue (no exceptions). Dress will be “comfortable chic” with suit or sports jackets for men.
Ticket sales will begin soon, so please check back later.
(last updated August 24, 2019)
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SD&A Groundbreaking Festival (September 7, 2019)
SD&A Centennial Celebration Day (November 16, 2019)
SD&A Centennial Calendar of Events (throughout 2019)