Modesto and Empire Traction Company

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Modesto and Empire Traction
Modesto and Empire Traction Company (logo).png
Reporting markMET
LocaleModesto-Empire, California
Dates of operation1911–present
Track gauge4 ft 8 12 in (1,435 mm) standard gauge
HeadquartersModesto, California

The Modesto and Empire Traction Company (reporting mark MET) is a Class III short-line railroad operating in California's San Joaquin Valley. It is owned by the Beard Land & Investment Company and the Beard family has always owned the railroad. The Beards have also created the Beard Industrial Park where the MET's customers are located. The railroad was unique in that it had operated exclusively with GE 70-ton switchers built between 1947-1955 for nearly 50 years(a former Southern Pacific EMD SW1500 switcher has been added to the roster as of late). The MET operates on 5 miles (8 km) of mainline track, as well as an addition 48.7 miles of yard and industry track, providing switching services in the Beard Industrial Park. The MET interchanges with the Union Pacific (ex-Southern Pacific Transportation Company) at Modesto and with the BNSF Railway (ex-Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway) at Empire.


The MET handles 24,000 cars per year (1996 estimate).

Products shipped include:


The MET was incorporated on October 7, 1911 by Mr. T. K. Beard. On November 1, 1911 it leased the Modesto Interurban Railway (MIR). Passenger service was the primary service for the railroad when it started in November 1911 but only lasted until 1917. The MET went to diesel-only operation in March 1952.

Modesto Interurban Railway[edit]

The Modesto Interurban Railway was incorporated on March 23, 1909. The railway was created because only the Southern Pacific served Modesto and the Santa Fe Railway bypassed Modesto by 5 miles (8 km) to the east at Empire. The Modesto Interurban Railway linked the Santa Fe Railway with Modesto. On April 12, 1909 the grading commenced. Just days before the Modesto & Empire Traction began taking over the railroad, the Modesto Interurban Railway completed construction and operated its first train. The railway originally proposed in 1908 to build 9.5 miles (15.3 km) of track from Modesto along McHenry Avenue and then directly to Riverbank. By November 1, 1911 the Modesto & Empire Traction was leasing the railway.


  • Fickewirth, Alvin A. (1992). California railroads: an encyclopedia of cable car, common carrier, horsecar, industrial, interurban, logging, monorail, motor road, shortlines, streetcar, switching and terminal railroads in California (1851-1992). San Marino, California: Golden West Books. ISBN 0-87095-106-8.
  • Robertson, Donald B. (1998). Encyclopedia of Western Railroad History - Volume IV - California. Caldwell, Idaho: The Caxton Printers. ISBN 0-87004-385-4.
  • Stindt, Fred A. (1996). American Shortline Railway Guide (5th ed.). Waukesha, Wisconsin: Kalmbach Publishing. ISBN 0-89024-290-9.
  • Walker, Mike (1997). Steam Powered Video's Comprehensive Railroad Atlas of North America: California and Nevada (Post-Merger ed.). Faversham, Kent, United Kingdom: Steam Powered Publishing. ISBN 1-874745-08-0.

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