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1900 - 1919 Historic Dates in San Bernardino and The Railroad:


April 30, 1900 - Casey Jones

       Casey Jones (1863 - 1900)           Illinois Central Railroad Locomotive No. 382 (4-6-0)

On April 30, 1900, at 3:52 AM a south bound passenger train crashed into four cars of a freight train.

Jonathan Luther "Casey" Jones was born in Missouri in 1863 and in 1876 moved to Cayce, Kentucky.  At age 15, he left home for Columbus, Kentucky to work for the Mobile and Ohio Railroad as a telegrapher and later as a brakeman and fireman. 

Jones moved to Jackson, Tennessee, still working for the Mobile and Ohio.  When asked by a fellow railroad man where he was from, Jones said he was from Cayce, Kentucky and the nickname "Casey" was born.

In 1888, he was hired by the Illinois Central Railroad.  On February 23, 1891, Casey was promoted to engineer and was later assigned to passenger runs between Memphis, Tennessee, and Canton, Mississippi, a run of about five hours.  This was one link of a four train run between Chicago and New Orleans.

On the morning of April 29, 1900, Jones pulled into Memphis from Canton where he was to lay over until the next day.   The regular engineer who was to make the night run was ill so Casey agreed to take his place. Engine No. 382, with Jones in the cab, departed about an hour and a half late.  

Casey Jones was known for his insistence that he 'get there on the advertised' time and when he got to Vaughan, Mississippi he was only a couple minutes late.  Two freight trains were on a siding but their combined length was longer than the siding. As they attempted to clear the main track an air hose on No. 72 broke, locking the brakes and leaving four cars of No. 83 extending onto the track at the north end.  

When Sim Webb, Casey's fireman, saw the caboose on the track he jumped from the cab, but Casey did not. Some say Casey Jones stayed with his engine because of his sense of duty and the value he put on human life. Jones died in the accident, but no other person was killed or seriously injured.

Wallace Saunders, who worked in the Canton roundhouse, wrote a tune remembering Casey that became a favorite of fellow workers.  Bert and Frank Leighton, a couple of vaudeville performers, spread the "Ballad of Casey Jones" across the country. The song was copyrighted in 1909.  In the 1930s, a book, a motion picture and a radio series added to the legend.  In 1962, Johnny Cash released his version of "Casey Jones". 

The official accident report said the 'Engineer Jones was solely responsible having disregarded the signals given by Flagman Newberry'.  Until his death in 1957, Sim Webb, Casey's fireman, maintained that 'we saw no flagman or flare, we heard no torpedoes'.

Note: A torpedo is a small device placed on a rail and makes a loud sound when the wheel of a train passes over it.



January 1903 - Santa Fe Bell

                           1903 Bell

The bell is from Santa Fe No. 1137, a 2-6-2 style steam locomotive. 

The engine was built in January 1903 by the Baldwin Locomotive Works and was in active service with Santa Fe until it was scrapped in 1953.

On February 1, 1964, the bell was presented to J. E. Lester, the Assistant General Manager in Topeka, upon his retirement after 45 years of service.

The bell was acquired by the Museum in 2014.



May 7, 1903 - President Theodore Roosevelt

President Theodore Roosevelt and his wife Edith, San Bernardino Souvenir Photographs, 1903

"The date was May 7, 1903.  President Theodore Roosevelt (the first U.S. president to visit San Bernardino), 'addressed the remark quoted above to a train attendant in San Bernardino---and he meant it.  He was not talking for the public ear but simply stating his convictions' [Extracted from The Daily Sun].

"President Theodore Roosevelt stopped at the Santa Fe Depot and spoke in Lugo Park (now Pioneer Park) located between 5th and 6th Streets and E and F Streets.

"Theodore Roosevelt is remembered as a big game hunter and a Rough Rider leading the charge up San Juan Hill during the Spanish-American War.  With the assassination of President McKinley, Roosevelt, not quite 43, became the youngest President of the United States.  He won the Nobel Peace Prize for mediating the Russo-Japanese War."

(from the wrtings of Nicolas Cataldo)

Click here to see all of the Presidents who have visited San Bernardino.


November 28, 1903 - Barney Oldfield

Barney Oldfield won his first race in 1902 in this Ford Race Car, "999". The car had a steering bar, not a steering wheel. (Henry Ford Collection)On November 28, 1903, Barney Oldfield, probably the most famous race car driver of his time, made his first appearance at Association Park in San Bernardino.

In January 1903 the San Bernardino Valley Traction Company (electric streetcar company) purchased the old Cole Racetrack on Mill Street near Waterman Avenue.  Renovation plans included a large grandstand, a baseball diamond and a football field.  The racetrack that had been used for horse racing was now to include automobile racing.  The racetrack was renamed Association Park.

Barney Oldfield, a bicycle racer since 1894, became a race car driver in 1902, when he participated in and won his first automobile race driving Henry Ford's first race car, the famous "No. 999".   Some of Oldfield's racing records:

*  In June 1903, he accomplished the first mile-a-minute performance in an automobile

*  In 1903 Oldfield became the AAA American National Champion

*  In 1905 he won the National Motor Car Championship 

*  In March 1910, he set a world speed record of 131.724 miles per hour

*  In 1914 and 1916, he finished in fifth place in the Indianapoilis 500.

*  In May 1916, he became the first person to lap the Indianapolis Speedway at more than 100 mph

Barney Oldfield refused to wear uniforms, often chewed cigars while he drove, talked loudly and swore often. He took his race cars to county fairs and other venues and gave the folks a show they would never forget.

On January 24, 1909, Barney Oldfield again raced at Association Park.  This time Oldfield drove his Stearns Six-Cylinder "Big Ben" against Gus Seyfried and his famous "White Flyer".


August 10, 1904 - Carnegie Library

Andrew Carnegie (1835 - 1919)                        San Bernardino's Carnegie Library (1904 - 1958) 

Andrew Carnegie made his fortune in the steel industry and is well known for funding libraries.

The above postcard shows San Bernardino's Carnegie Library, at the southwest corner of 4th and D Street, and behind it, the 1874 and 1898 courthouses located on Court Street.

In 1902, the city of San Bernardio was offered a $20,000 grant by the Carnegie Corporation and architects Burnham and Bliesner were selected to design the Classical Revival style building.  

The library was opened August 10, 1904.  In 1920, the Carnegie Corporation provided an another $7,600 for an addition to the building, and the city passed a $10,000 bond to support the expansion. 

The Carnegie Library was a beautiful piece of architecture with a wide staircase leading to the rounded, column-guarded entrance at center.  A dome protudes over the front corner of the library where large windows and a rotating door stand beneath the words "Public Library", that are carved into the stone.  Two lamp posts stand at the end of the staircase to light the sidewalk which extends down the streets on the left and right.

In 1957 the Carnegie Library was declared unsafe.  Rather than rennovate it, the city demolished it in 1958.

It was replaced in 1960 by a new library, located at 401 N. Arrowhead Avenue.  In 1984, it was demolished to make room for the County Administration Center.

At the time, the Municipal Auditorium, in Pioneer Park, was in need of rennovation and consideration was given to remodeling it to serve as a library.  Instead of converting the Municipal Auditorium into a library, it too was demolished and the Norman F. Feldheym Central LIbrary was constructed in its place.

Note: Andrew Carnegie funded 2,509 libraries throught the world, including 1,679 in the United States. From 1899-1917, the Carnegie Corporation provided grants to build 142 public libraries in California.   As of 2009, 85 of the 142 Carnegie libraries in the Golden State were still standing and 36 were in use as libraries.


July 9, 1905 - Scott Special

ATSF 485 (4-6-0) in San Bernardino, 1928 photo by R. P. Middlebrook (S. Kistler Collection). No. 485 was one of 20 Engines used for the 1905 Scott Special.

The Scott Special was the brainchild of Walter Edward Perry Scott, also known as Death Valley Scotty.  Or, maybe it was a publicity stunt by the Santa Fe Railroad.  We'll never really know.

It was reported that Scott met with the Santa Fe's General Passenger Agent, J. J. Byrne, at the railroad's office in Los Angeles on July 8, 1905.  Arrangements were made, thanks to a deposit from Scott of $5,500 in cash. The two agreed on a 46-hour schedule from Los Angeles to Chicago that would begin the following day.

Scott's money ($10,000) apparently came from a gold mine promoter named E. B. Gaylord. 

The passenger list for the train included: Scott himself, his wife, Ella Josephine ("Jack") Millius, Frank N. Holman, and Charles E. Van Loan, a writer for the Los Angeles Examiner.

There were 19 steam engine changes during the 2,265 mile trip from Los Angeles to Chicago.  

However, the three cars pulled by the various engines, made the entire trip: baggage car #210, dining car #1407 and a Pullam car, the Muskegon.

The Special made the trip in 44 hours and 54 minutes, breaking all previous records. 

It was not until the 1936 introduction of the Super Chief that Santa Fe trains would regularly exceed the speeds seen on the Scott Special.

Note: In a chapter about Santa Fe's "quest for speed" in EuDaly's Santa Fe 1992 Annual, he talks about the Scott Special, and how it was really just a publicity stunt set up and paid for by the Santa Fe. The run was real enough, but the "official" backstory peddled to the press doesn't bear much resemblence to reality. 

ATSF 1010 (2-6-2), the only surviving engine (Needles to Seligman), is at the California State Railroad Museum.


May 19, 1910 - Santa Fe...Industrial Parade

A Miniature Locomotive and Car, exhibited by the Car Department. Boys are in uniform as engine and train crew and girls as passengers. (photo by C. H. Shaffner)

* The San Bernardino Centennial Celebration, held from May 17-21, 1910, included many spectacular events and four days of parades: floral, automotive, live stock, and the most impressive of all, the industrial parade.

* On May 19, the Industrial Parade, viewed by tens of thousands, began with a band, banners, horseback riders, and several cars containing Mayor McNabb, Santa Fe executives and VIPs.  Many organizations from San Bernardino and surrounding towns participated, however Santa Fe outclassed any of the other exhibits.

* Santa Fe was represented by ten departments with floats descriptive of the work the men performed.  Some floats were drawn by a team of horses, while others were built and operated on an automobile chassis.

* First Prize for the best entry in the Industrial Parade went to Santa Fe's Locomotive Department, while the Car Department; the Bridge & Building Department; and the Store Department won 2nd, 3rd and 4th places. 

* The next day, the San Bernardino Daily Sun reported:

"With the terrific din of the hammers of the boilermakers, the clanging of the anvils of the blacksmiths, the pounding of the pile driver, the screaming whistles and the other resounding metallic noises of the clamor of activity, heard day in and day out about the great railway shops, the approach of the massive Santa Fe display announced to the waiting multitudes.  Alone, the great display of the railroad men would have made a notable industrial parade.  Through the streets of the city, lined with cheering throngs, the long procession of men and gigantic floats extending for a mile, itself".

Click here to see more of the Santa Fe Railway's participation in the Industrial Parade.


May 20, 1910 - Centennial of San Bernardino

The Cornerstone, where Father Dumetz named the valley & built a chapel, was at Bunker Hill (De Sienna Springs), near Inland Center Dr. & I St. 

The above cornerstone is featured in the 128 page supplement of a local San Bernardino newspaper in 1910.

Quoting from the "Capilla Ceremonies":

'On Centennial Day, May 20, 1910, Bishop Conaty of Los Angeles, laid with due ceremony the cornerstone of a new capilla [chapel] to be erected ...on the exact site of the first building erected in this valley by the white men...

'It is intended to establish in the mission a permanent museum of early day relics and to maintain it as one the show places of the [San Bernardino] valley.' 

On the cornerstone:

The cross was in memory of that first cross in that first chapel built by Padre Dumetz 100 years earlier.

"D. O. M." is a Latin abbreviation for Deo Optimo Maximo ("To God, the Best and Greatest").

May 20 is the feast day of Saint Bernardine of Sienna, a Franciscan priest born in Sienna, Italy in 1380, and for whom the valley was named.

Click here to view selected articles from the 1910 special edition of The Evening Index.

Note: For related stories see "May 20, 1810"; "May 20, 1960" and "May 20, 2010".


January 7, 1911 - Didier Masson

Didier Masson (1886-1950)                   1910 Curtiss-Willard Banshee Express, renamed "Pegasus" in 1911 

It  had been  slightly  more than  seven years  since the  Wright  Brothers  flew the world's first powered  flight  at  Kitty Hawk  when a daring  young  barnstorming  pilot  attempted the  first commercial  flight  in  the  country  by flying from  Los Angeles  to  San Bernardino with his unique cargo.

Didier Masson, a French pilot, took off from Los Angeles at 7:05 AM on January 7, 1911, with several bundles of the Los Angeles Times strapped to the wings of his biplane.  The plane, renamed "Pegasus", was the 1910 Curtiss-Willard Banshee and was powered by an eight cylinder, 50 horsepower Hall-Scott engine. 

Masson was to stop in Pomona on his way to San Bernardino.  However, the pilot got lost and running low on fuel landed in a field near Cucamonga.  Masson got a ride to Pomona where he picked up his ground crew and returned to his biplane.

After refueling and repairing the landing gear, Masson took off and headed east.  He landed in San Bernardino at 12:40 PM at Association Park, located off Mill Street between Waterman and Tippiecanoe.

After lunch at the Elks Club, Masson planned to put on a brief aerobatics show at San Bernardino and then fly back to Pomona for a second performance.  Unfortunately, he crashed on takeoff.  Masson was uninjured, but his airplane was damaged and the pilot never returned to Pomona.  

Masson may have arrived several hours later than expected, but he achieved an aeronautical first when he landed in San Bernardino with his cargo of newspapers.  Masson went on to fly as a mercenary in the Mexican Revolution and then in the Lafayette Escadrille during World War I.


February 08, 1911 - Pacific Electric

In 1885, the San Bernardino Street Railway started operations with a Horse (actually a Mule) Car. 

In 1888 the San Bernardino & Redlands Railway established a route between the two cities.

In 1902 the San Bernardino Valley Traction Company began operations with the first electric streetcar line in San Bernardino.

On February 8, 1911, the Pacific Electric (PE) bought the San Bernardino Valley Traction Company.

PE, with its famous Red Cars, expanded its operations to over 1,100 miles of track in Southern California and provided service between San Bernardino and Los Angeles from 1914 to 1941.

In the above photograph the Pacific Electric Red Car #1299 is seen with San Bernardino's St. Bernard Hotel (577 West 3rd Street) in the background.

Click here to see a photo history of streetcars in San Bernardino.


March 6, 1911 - National Orange Show

Click here to view a photo history of San Bernardino's National Orange Show.


September 20, 1913 - Pavilion

The wooden Pavilion, San Bernardino’s first public auditorium, was built in 1890 and was dedicated on New Year's Day in 1891.  It was located in the park where the Feldheym Library is now located.

The Pavilion soon became a very popular gathering place hosting everything from political rallies to religious meetings to social affairs, conventions, fairs, dances and parties of all kinds.  Company K of the local California National Guard used the basement to store ammunition.

In 1904, over 1,000 attended the reception and banquet for visiting railroad engineers.  By 1910, Mrs. Beeman was conducting a kindergarten class there.  

During political campaigns, audiences of 3,500 to 4,000 filled every corner of the famous old building. The Pavilion was used for the last time when Governor Hiram Johnson spoke before a large crowd in 1913.  

Shortly after 1:00 AM on September 20, 1913, the Pavilion caught fire and was consumed in a spectacular blaze.  Explosions of ammunition stored in the basement blew the burning fragments of the roof into the air, and flames roared upward hundreds of feet.

After the fire the only question on everyone's mind was, "When will there be erected another to take its place?" It was 10 years before the Pavilion was replaced by the Municipal Auditorium (September 10, 1923).


July 2, 1915 - Pioneer Park

Relaxing Under a Pepper Tree in Pioneer Park in the Early 20th Century (Postcard courtesy of the San Bernardino Historical and Pioneer Society)

When the expected Indian attack never materialized, the original Mormon settlers in San Bernardino decided to move out of the fort they had built in 1851.  In 1853 the City of San Bernardino was laid out like a miniature Salt Lake City.  The town was one mile-square, laid out in blocks containing eight acres each.

A block-square public park was established in the center of town.  It was located between 5th and 6th Street and Salt Lake (E) Street and California (F) Street.  The park in the early years was called the "Public Square", then "City Park" and "Lugo Park" (for the Lugo family, the first owners).  

On July 2, 1915, the City Council officially established the name of the park as "Pioneer Park".

Over the years numerous buildings were erected in this eight-acre park, including:

*  1880, St. Catherine's Convent School (torn down in 1927 to build the California Hotel)

*  1890, Pavilion (burned down in 1913)

*  1908, Log cabin of the Pioneer Society (burned down in 1973)

*  1910, Catholic Church (still stands at 5th & F Streets)

*  1923, Municipal Auditorium (closed in 1979 and demolished in 1982)

*  1927, California Hotel (went out of business in 1972 and was torn down in 1985)

*  c.1928, St. Bernardine's Catholic High School (replaced in 1981 by apartments for seniors)

*  Various War Memorials (most still remain)

Today we think of the park as the home of the Feldheym Library (opened to the public in 1985).

Click here to see photographs of the buildings and more of Pioneer Park.


November 16, 1916 - Santa Fe Depot Burns

The photographer is looking northwest at the remains of the first Santa Fe Depot after the 11:00 PM fire of November 16, 1916.  This once beautiful two story wood frame and brick structure was built in 1886, three years after the first passenger train arrived in San Bernardino.

This depot was located about 350 feet east of the current depot, just north of Third Street between what is now K Street and Kendall Ave.  A Fred Harvey Lunch Room and newsstand were located within the depot.

Also, destroyed in the fire were 30 years of Santa Fe records, covering every aspect of the Los Angeles Division.

Click here for a photo history of the first Santa Fe Depot in San Bernardino.


January 1, 1917 - NOS Rose Parade Float


  In 1917 the National Orange Show (NOS) sponsored its first entry in the Tournament of Roses Parade.  

  The first Tournament of Roses was staged in 1890 by members of Pasadena's Valley Hunt Club.

  The first National Orange Show was held in 1911 at 4th and E Streets in San Bernardino.  

  Hence, the arrowhead symbol on the front of the float commemorates the 7th year of existence for the National Orange Show.

  The San Bernardino Historical and Pioneer Society has photographs of 26 entries in the Tournaments of Roses Parade by the National Orange Show between 1917 and 1965, and 11 floats sponsored by the City of San Bernardino between 1978 and 1988.

Click here for a photo history of the National Orange Show.

Click here to view photos of Rose Parade Floats by the City of San Bernardino and the National Orange Show.


July 15, 1918 - Current Santa Fe Depot

The above photo shows the current Santa Fe Depot while under construction in San Bernardino in 1917.  The $800,000 depot featured mission-style architecture with domes, towers and a tile roof.  It opened to the public on July 15, 1918.  

The depot was restored in 2002-2004 and tracks were added and realigned in 2015-2017. Today, the depot serves Amtrak and Metrolink passengers.

It is home to the San Bernardino History & Railroad Museum, and the Santa Fe Railway Historical & Modeling Society (SFRH&MS) which maintains the Western Archives of the Santa Fe Railroad.

Government agencies located within the depot include: SBCTA (San Bernardino County Transportation Authority), SCAG (Southern California Association of Governments) and LAFCO (Local Agency Formation Commission for San Bernardino County).  

The depot is across the tracks from the BNSF intermodal facility.  Over 100 freight trains pass by the depot each day.

Click here for a photo history of the Santa Fe Depot from 1917 to 1940.

Click here for a photo history of the Santa Fe Depot - 100 Years in San Bernardino.

Santa Fe Depot still standing and open for business in San Bernardino.