San Francisco & San Jose Railroad

The San Francisco & San Jose Railroad (SFSJRR) was incorporated in 1859 to “provide rail service between the counties of San Francisco, San Mateo and Santa Cruz”. As a practical matter this means a railroad that runs south from San Francisco harbor, past Mission Bay, along the west side of the South Bay and terminates near San Jose.

The 1859 mini-game determined that the SFSJRR was able to obtain funding necessary to begin construction.

Players have expressed a strong interested in becoming investors in this railroad.


Proposed Route

The railroad will follow this proposed route – roughly paralleling the El Camino Real.

  • Beginning in San Francisco near Rincon Point – the IRL terminus of the Bay Bridge
  • 9 mi southwest to a TBD depot near Lake Merced
  • 9 mi southeast along the Santa Cruz foothills to Milibrae (near San Andreas Lake)
  • 7 mi southeast crossing the San Mateo Creek near San Mateo
  • 7 mi southeast to Redwood, near the confluence of Redwood Creek and Bair & Greco Islands
  • 7 mi southeast crossing the San Francisquito Creek near Palo Alto
  • Approx 17 mi southeast crossing the Guadalupe River near San Jose

NOTE: IRL this route would be developed in the late 1860s and 70s by the Southern Pacific Railroad as part of their mainline connecting San Francisco and San Diego.

Three parts of the plan are noteworthy.

  • Redwood has deep-water port access, but several hundred yards of marshland must be crossed to reach it.
  • A second railhead will start from the south end (San Jose) in 1861 with the two teams rushing to meet each other by winter 1863.
  • The plan for the final 17 miles from Palo Alto to San Jose bypasses the existing communities of Alviso & Santa Clara. This seems like a terrible oversight as it will prevent the company from benefiting from the traffic those communities provide.

Current Operations – San Francisco to Lake Merced

Right of way in San Francisco proper proved difficult to secure and construction is delayed until summer. Track laying runs peaks at two miles per month (400 feet of track & 270 cross-ties per day). This rate is “good” considering the manual process and the limits imposed by the terrain, logistics, supplies of iron rails and timber – plus the difficulty of finding experienced manpower. The surveyors and engineers hope to accelerate track-laying once they hit the flat lands along the bay – perhaps up to 1 to 1.5 miles per week, or higher!

By the end of 1859 the railroad has completed a station at Lake Merced, with active work at a railhead going to the southeast. The railroad operates one full-size locomotive providing twice-daily local service along the line. Both passenger and freight service is available. A smaller “yard engine” built by the Union Iron Works handles traffic at the depot at San Francisco, and a dedicated engine is expected in early 1860 to haul supplies to the railhead.


Management and Funding

The SFSJRR is owned by a consortium of California businessmen with extensive investment from “back East”. Michael Donahue serves as president, with Peter Donahue as chairman and Juana Briones de Miranda as secretary & land agent.

Up to $2,000,000 in stock and debt are authorized by the charter, and the completed railroad is expected to cost over $1,300,000. Operational costs are likely to run at least $300,000 per year.

  • $75,000 for right of way and demolition in San Francisco
  • $25,000 for right of way and demolition in San Jose
  • $100,000 for the deep-water access at Redwood
  • $50,000 to bridge the Guadalupe River
  • $40,000 in smaller crossings and ravines
  • At least $900,000 for the track itself ($15K per mile)
  • $70,000 for station & depot facilities
  • $30,000 for engines and equipment

The company has raised $300,000 in working capital, including $75,000 in secured debt provided by the City of San Francisco itself.

The company has also obtained numerous government incentives not immediately payable.

  • Tax incentives and reduced docking fees from Port of San Francisco worth approximately $10,000/year over the next five years
  • Reimbursement from the State of California of $5,000 for each mile of track completed.
  • Right of way and secured debt from the city of Palo Alta worth $20,000 – payable once railheads are either two miles east of Redwood or two miles west of San Jose
  • Secured debt from the city of San Jose worth $30,000 – with $5,000 payable once the Guadalupe River bridge is completed, $5,000 payable upon connection to Palo Alto and $20,000 payable on the first anniversary of continuous rail service from San Francisco to San Jose.

San Francisco & San Jose Railroad

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