San Francisco and San Jose Railroad

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San Francisco and San Jose Railroad
Locomotive #11 of the SFSJ.
Locale San Francisco Peninsula
Dates of operation 1863 (1863)–1870 (1870)
Successor Southern Pacific
Track gauge 4 ft 8 12 in (1,435 mm)
Headquarters San Francisco, California

The San Francisco and San Jose Railroad (SF&SJ) was the first railroad to link the communities of San Francisco and San Jose, California, running the length of the San Francisco Peninsula. The company incorporated in 1860 and opened the first portion of its route in 1863, completing the entire 49.5-mile (80 km) route in 1864. The company was consolidated with the Southern Pacific Railroad in 1870. Today, Caltrain and the Union Pacific Railroad continue to operate trains over the company's original route.


The company incorporated on August 18, 1860[1] with Timothy Dame as president and the company headquarters in San Francisco. The railroad was cofounded by San Francisco blacksmith, Peter Donahue, who had established the Union Iron Works. Donohue's friend Henry Newhall, a successful San Francisco auctioneer, became the third founder of the railroad.

Grading and construction of the line began on July 15, 1861[1] using redwood ties and 50-pound-per-yard (25 kg/m) rail.[2]:214

The line opened between San Francisco and Menlo Park on October 17, 1863 and reached San Jose on January 16, 1864. The railroad cut what had previously been an eight-hour trip by "steamboat and stagecoach" to three-and-a-half hours.[3] The first full-sized steam locomotive produced in the state of California, an American 4-4-0, was built for the SF&SJRR by the Union Iron Works in San Francisco. It was appropriately named the California. Its inaugural run was August 30, 1865, during which it set a speed record of 67 miles per hour (108 km/h).[4]

The Southern Pacific Railroad acquired the company in March 1868,[1] and the Southern Pacific and Central Pacific were consolidated as the Southern Pacific on October 12, 1870,[1] nearly seven years to the day after the first trains ran between San Francisco and Menlo Park.[2]:214 Today the tracks are owned by the Peninsula Corridor Joint Powers Board, also known as Caltrain, that operates commuter rail over the route. The Union Pacific Railroad maintains trackage rights over the line for freight traffic.[citation needed]

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  1. ^ a b c d Dunscomb, Guy L. (1963). A century of Southern Pacific steam locomotives, 1862–1962. Modesto, California: Modesto Printing Company. pp. 405–406. LCCN 63-14308. Retrieved 12 July 2016. 
  2. ^ a b Robertson, Donald B. (1998). Encyclopedia of Western Railroad History - Volume IV - California. Caldwell, ID: The Caxton Printers. ISBN 0-87004-385-4. 
  3. ^ McGovern, Janet (2012). Caltrain And The Peninsula Commute Service. Arcadia Publishing. 
  4. ^ "About Henry Mayo Newhall". Henry Mayo Newhall Foundation. 2000. Retrieved 2007-04-20. 

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