The San Joaquin and Eastern Railroad
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Is observation car No.200 (Trona R.R. No. 100) still in Ridgecrest Calif.?
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.
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 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, 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.
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.
I've heard rumors of a loco and cars in the home creek area on the west side of Huntington Lake. Story goes a company brought up their loco and cars and couldn't get them down after the SJ&E scrapped the tracks so they took it to the end of their spur lines in the woods and scrapped the track behind it. Would love to find out if this is true
Reply to Carson Dupree's comment: Yes that is a strong rumor and numerous people have tried to find it. It is believed to be over in the Black Rock / Point area. Someone once said he had seen it, but then couldn't find it again. Norman Saude, a contractor in the Shaver Lake area, believes the engine is Peterson's old Class "A" Climax that he used for his logging operations at the time Huntington Lake was being constructed [picture in Johnston's book "The Railroad That Lighted Southern California." Others think it is a Shay, but I support Norm's theory. All the Shays from the SJ&E are accounted for in a book on Shays I have. The Climax was reported sold, but was never delivered due to the track being cut as the water was rising too fast at Huntington Lake. People like Jeff Young, a logger in the Shaver area and member of the Board of Directors of the Central Sierra Historical Society, has also looked for the engine and cars. If you contact either of these two gentlemen, they will get your explorative juices flowing.
I've been exploring this area for several years on my Mountain Bike and hiking. Earlier this year a friend and I hiked the track that runs next to the penstocks in Big Creek. I have several great photos and would love to hear more history about this section of track. I believe it was used to haul equipment while they built the penstocks. I've read the track length is 6000 feet and the elevation gain is 2000 feet.
For Mike Hemman: Get a copy of Hank Johnston's book "The Railroad That Lighted Southern California." It is a great source of information on the SJ&E. Visit the Central Sierra Historical Society's museum at Shaver Lake [take the road off Hwy 168 past Shaver town into Camp Edison - it is on the right]for more information. They sell the book, by the way or you can get it from the publisher [the people who run the Yosemite Mountain & Sugar Pine RR at Fish Camp on the way to Yosemite].
The railroad actually crosses over a bridge over Millerton Rd, and goes straight and curves down. If you go into street view near the area, you'll find remaining bridge pillars in place.
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