James Fair Alfred Davis

Dowd, 1903

  Leland Stanford


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Narrow-gauge crossing into Drawbridge

James "Slippery Jim" Fair and Alfred "Hog" Davis are described by O. L. "Montey" Dewey as "large-bodied, self-made men." Taking on Leland Stanford and his "Big Four" partners, Huntington, Hopkins, and Crocker, was not a job for the faint of heart. Fair and Davis were more than up to the task. Historian Clyde Arbuckle describes "Slippery Jim" thusly, "Fair, who combined indescribable rudeness with incredible cunning, entertained no fear whatsoever of the "Big Four" individually or collectively." These were big, wealthy, burly bastards who could kick ass and take names.

Before its completion in May, 1880, the bay terminus of the S.P.C.R.R was moved from Newark to Alameda, a speedier solution for San Franciscans who would take the steamboat ferry to Alameda before boarding the train. The trip from San Francisco to Santa Cruz, including the steamboat ride, was three hours and fifty-five minutes and cost $3.50. The same journey by stagecoach took two days and cost in excess of $40.00 (after lodging and meals) - not to mention the discomfort.

In 1887 Fair sold the line to Leland Stanford and it became part of the Southern Pacific. It continued as a narrow-gauge line (3 feet between rails) until 1906 when it was changed to standard (4 feet 8 1/2 inches between rails) shortly after the earthquake of that year.

The photo, circa 1903, shows the train crossing Mud Slough into Drawbridge. By this time, numerous hunting cabins and homes dotted Station Island. If you look very closely you can see Ann Byrnes waving to the engineer from in front of her cabin, The Recreation. John Byrnes is, presumably, taking the photo.

By 1955, trains no longer stopped in Drawbridge on a regular basis, but could be flagged down. The ghosts of Drawbridge are unable to stop the train now.



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