|Promontory Summit, Utah, May 10, 1869|
On November 7, 1891, twelve carloads of people flocked to the Long Beach seashore to witness the opening of the Los Angeles Terminal Railroad (known locally as the Terminal Railroad). Flags were flown from housetops and a large crowd of people awaited the visitors. A stop made at Pacific Park (today's Lincoln Park) allowed many more to board the train before it reached the terminus on Rattlesnake Island (later renamed Terminal Island in honor of the railroad).
|Los Angeles Terminal Railroad|
At the end of the line, passengers disembarked. They were given time to see the site of the city’s proposed new wharf. They then returned to
, got out and mingled with the crowd. A dedication ceremony followed with a golden spike
driven into the rail line by Miss Lucia Burnett (no relation to the author),
daughter of the general manager of the rail line. Long
The spike was a facsimile of the regulation railroad spike, but made of solid gold, according to the Los Angeles Herald; it was engraved with the inscription: “Last spike driven by the Terminal Railroad at Long Beach, Cal.” The mallet then passed to W.H. Goucher, President of the Long Beach Board of Trustees, and Mayor Hazard of Los Angeles, each of whom gave the spike a couple of blows and drove it home.
Edward Lockett, Secretary of the Long Beach Board of Trustees, gave a welcoming address. He was followed by C.M. Wells, President of the Los Angeles Chamber of Commerce who spoke about the importance of transportation to a region. T.E. Gibbon, general attorney for the Terminal Railroad, followed Mr. Wells, thanking the people for their good will and welcome. As legal counsel, he pointed out the Terminal Railroad was building a rail line all the way to Salt Lake by themselves, but was working with other rail lines to secure as direct a route as possible to form another transcontinental line.
|San Pedro Bay - 1897|
|Long Beach 1890|
After all the grandiose speeches came what everyone was waiting for --- the barbecue. A hungry crowd of 1500 rushed from the speaker's stand to the large tables set up in
Pacific Avenue alongside the park. Two plank tables resting upon piles of
railroad ties extended 200 feet along the thoroughfare. They were heaped with smoking meats, stacks
of white bread, coffee and apples. The
men carved meat while dozens of boys and girls carried the portions to the
eager guests. There was plenty of meat
(beef, mutton and pork), bread, coffee and apples to go around. The Long Beach
band and Ahrend's band of
furnished the music. The festivities
ended with a grand ball. Some visitors even
brought home the bones from the barbecue as souvenirs! (Los
Angeles Times 11/8/1891) Los Angeles
A Trip Over the Terminal Railway Described
A preview run of the rail line was held October 23, 1891, when manager Thomas B. Burnett arranged a trip for 200 farmers in
A July 1898 article in an issue of Terminal Topics, the monthly magazine of the Los Angeles Terminal Railway, described a rail trip from the Terminal Station in
to Long Beach and on to . The cost of the fifty-mile round trip from Terminal Island Los Angeles to was 50 cents. There were two terminals in Terminal
Island , one at First and Alamitos, the
second on the northeast corner of Ocean and Pacific. Passengers who did not leave the train at Long Beach Long Beach found themselves whirling along the ocean to , described as “a new and very
attractive resort, where neither money nor labor is being spared to make a most
charming place of amusement and recreation for the people.” From Terminal Island the train passed through “a luxurious country
of gardens and dairies, acres of blackberries and strawberries, green alfalfa
fields and waving corn, passing flocks of sheep and herds of cattle.” Four trains daily and five on Sunday made it
easy for a businessman to summer at the beach and continue to work in Los
Angeles . Los Angeles
In November 1900 the Los Angeles Terminal Railroad became the Salt Lake and Los Angeles Terminal Railroad when it was decided to extend the line to Salt Lake City (San Francisco Call 11/27/1900). On January 29, 1901, the board of directors of the Salt Lake and Terminal railroads formally transferred the Terminal to the Salt Lake, Los Angeles and San Pedro Railroad. (LA Herald 1/29/1901). It was William Andrews Clark, a Montana mining baron and United States Senator who was the main investor in the project, giving the rail line the informal name of “The Clark Road.” The railroad operated independently until April 1921 when the Union Pacific acquired Clark’s interest in the rail line.
Clark County, Nevada, was named for W.A. Clark bringing the railroad through the state and creating the city of Las Vegas. Clark also had major investments in the Long Beach area. For more on Clark, and the railroad read my January 2014 blog - A fortune, an heiress and sugar beets.
And my September 1914 blog - the Burnett District and the Terminal Railroad.
What Happened to the Gold Spike?
The 17-5 karat gold spike from Promontory Summit is now displayed in the Cantor Arts Center at Stanford University. But what happened to the Terminal Railroad spike? If it was indeed “solid” gold as reported in the press it would have been too valuable to leave in the track and would have soon been removed, turned over to the railroad company and replaced. Most likely the original or replacement spike had little gold and may have just been painted a gold color. In any case, around 1911 two boys pried the 8 inch long spike out of the rail track, thinking it was pure gold. The police recovered the spike and placed it in the junk room at police headquarters where it was discovered in 1913. It was then put on display at the Chamber of Commerce. (Los Angeles Times 4/13/1913) What happened after that remains a mystery.