Fresno to Huntington Lake

The San Joaquin and Eastern Railroad

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Map submitted by Andrew Laverdiere.

The San Joaquin and Eastern Railroad was built by the Southern California Edison Company in order reach "Dam #2" at Huntington Lake. Construction of the line started February 5th, 1912, and was completed July 10th that same year.

Abandonment of the line came on August 15, 1933.

The route depicted above was drawn from a USGS topographical map from 1914.

Thanks to Andrew Laverdiere for contributing information about this route.

See if you can find a copy of "The Railroad That Lighted Southern Californina" by Hank Johnston. It is the most comple history of the SJ&E ever printed.

Bill Steck
Bakersfield, CA
2/19/2012

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My husband, Roy worked for SCE from 1976 to 1993. We drove on the railroad grade from Big Creek to Auberry many times. It was bumpy and hot, but fun.

Kathryn Schamanski
Puyallup, WA
6/3/2012

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I spent every summer vacation at Huntington Lake from 1952-1971. I had great uncles and aunts that worked and lived at BIG CREEK. One of those uncles helped Mr. Johnston with that book. I've got his copy. Great read.

Dan Richmond
Manhattan Beach, CA
1/13/2013

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I was recently involved in the complete restoration of SJ&E caboose #50 as the team leader. It had been donated to the Central Sierra Historical Society at Shaver Lake in 2000. We completely took it apart beginning in 2007 and rebuilt it, finishing it in May of 2012. It may be seen at the CSHS museum inside the main gate to Camp Edison. I am glad to see others adding comments and furthering the historical value of this neat railroad.

Brooks Wilson
Fresno, CA
1/22/2013

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I noticed reference elsewhere on this site to a Shay Locomotive. The picture, however, depicts Climax #109.

Also, reference was made to a portion of the SJ&E being broad gauged. The whole line was standard gauged to facilitate moving materials and supplies to Big Creek, Shaver and Huntington using other railroad's cars without having to cross-load to narrow gauge cars.

Brooks Wilson
Fresno, CA
1/22/2013

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I heard a rumor that a locomotive from the SJ&E used to be located at a park in Santa Barbara but was sold and removed for rebuilding.

Ken Linville
Guthrie, OK
9/29/2013

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Two comments on previous submissions:

1] The SJ&E main line was built from a connection with the Friant Branch of the SP northeast of Fresno [El Prado] to Cascada, later Big Creek. There was a branch line to Shaver Lake as well. The track between Big Creek and "The Basin," later called Huntington Lake, was an incline [one car or engine at a time hauled up as much as and 80% grade in places. Power was supplied by an electric winch at the top.

2] SJ&E's engine #205, a Baldwin 2-6-2, was sold to the Santa Maria Valley RR and later put in the Santa Barbara County Fairgrounds at Santa Maria as a display. In 1983 the fairgrounds sold it to George Lavacot, a retired CHP officer living in OR. He moved it to Independence, OR, near Salem, where he has been rebuilding it. The original Vanderbilt tender was separated from the #205 during it's SMVRR days, but still exists in the Klamath Falls area. It is owned by two brothers who won't part with it. The #205 may be steaming now.

For a history of the SJ&E, read "The Railroad That Lighted Southern California" by Hank Johnston. There are four editions. The publisher is Stouffer who also owns/runs the Yosemite Mountain & Sugar Pine RR in Fish Camp, CA.

Brooks Wilson
Fresno, CA
11/26/2013

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I have recently received two notices of things supposedly having being written about this RR, but I don't see anything on the site to indicate that. Perhaps someone is trying to reach me through a different medium like FB, Twitter, etc.? I don't do those, so, if you want, e-mail me at Brooks@ADanceofLight.com . Thanks.

Brooks Wilson
Clovis, CA
12/6/2013

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Is observation car No.200 (Trona R.R. No. 100) still in Ridgecrest Calif.?

Ken Linville
Guthrie, OK
2/11/2014

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Ken Linville asked if SJ&E observation car #200 still existed. Yes, it does, but with qualification. Jack Tunn of Ridgecrest, CA, bought the car from the Trona RR to make it into a personal residence [see Hank Johnston's book]. The county [Kern] told him it was too narrow and would not meet code for a home. Tunn, being a retired metal worker, cut the car in half, lengthwise, and spread it apart, building it into a home. The observation deck is now the front porch and there is a two story structure above the other end of the car. It is truly a shame this happened, but you can still see the car today in Ridgecrest [Mojave desert near China Lake Naval Air Station. I took pictures, but have misplaced them, unfortunately. The information above came from the local historian.

Brooks Wilson
Clovis, CA
2/11/2014

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Hello all. I just took my truck up there today in fact and snapped some pictures. Including some of an old rail car of some sort abandoned on the side of the old railroad bed. :) Where would I send the pictures to submit them for consideration? Thanks!

Scottie Giese
Fresno, CA
9/14/2014

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Scottie Geise wrote concerning pictures taken of an old rail car on the SJ&E line railroad bed. This was an incline car probably used to deliver small items down the mountain side on Incline #2. The track was taken up in about 2005, but one section under this car was left. Some of the rail was saved and used to set caboose #50 on it at the Central Sierra Historical Society [CSHS] Museum at Shaver lake, CA. Southern California Edison owns the car, but the US Forest Service has their finger in the pie as well. The CSHS is trying to get it for the museum to be restored and to sit on some of the track mentioned above. There are pictures aplenty, but the CSHS might accept your submission.

Brooks Wilson
Clovis, CA
9/15/2014

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Brooks Wilson, you and your co-workers are to be commended on the restoration of the SJ&E caboose #50. My wife and I toured the caboose the weekend on June 13-14, 2015. The docent and I had a long conversation about the caboose, he telling me of the origin, rebuild and so on. I in turn told him about the operations of a caboose from the view point of a Conductor and Brakeman, as I had spent 40 years on the Pacific Electric, Southern Pacific and Union Pacific railroads, Then about 5 years after I retired (2005)I went to the Santa Maria Valley RR to help out the owner, a friend of mine. I worked as a Conductor and Engineer for about two years. I didn't get the docent's name, but he said he teaches at Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo. He asked me if I would become a docent once in a while when my wife and I come up to Dinkey Creek once or twice a year. "I would be honered to" I told him.

Virlon Smoot
Arroyo Grande, CA
6/16/2015

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Dear Mr. Smoot,

Thank you for your kind comments. There are still some things missing on the caboose, but we did the best we could with what we had. I am waiting for some brake wheel fittings to be made to finish that part of it. I wish I had had more money to do things a little better, but we still spent a lot of money doing what we did in spite of lots of donated wood, etc. If you do become docent and have questions, feel free to contact me at Brooks@ADanceofLight.com. I have all the records, photos, drawings, etc. from the project.

Brooks Wilson
Clovis, CA
6/17/2015

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