For over 11 months the Southern Pacific Railroad prevented a train from entering San Bernardino from the South. Southern Pacific used legal and physical means to prevent the train from crossing the SP east-west track at the Colton Crossing.
Virgil Earp (a special agent for Southern Pacific and later the first City Marshall of Colton) led the group that prevented California Southern Railroad from heading north to San Bernardino.
On September 13, 1883, after a court order was issued and an "at grade" crossing (called a "frog") was installed, the first train arrived in San Bernardino from National City (just south of San Diego). The train, pulled by Engine No. 4, was operated by the California Southern Railroad, later owned by the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway.
Fred T. Perris, a civil engineer and surveyor for the railroad, was at the whistle. (Photograph by H. B. Wesner)
Note: On August 28, 2013, a public celebration was held to dedicate the opening of the new Colton Crossing Rail-to-Rail Grade Separation. After 130 years the east-west Union Pacific Railroad tracks were raised to pass over the north-south BNSF Railroad tracks. This will alleviate congestion at the crossing, which accommodates more that 100 trains each day.
This chair was in the personal box of James Waters, who is pictured at the right. James Waters, along with Herman Brinkmeyer (seen on the balcony of the Opera House), built the San Bernardino Opera House in 1882, four years before Los Angeles had an opera house of its own.
The Opera House featured everything from Italian Grand Operas and Shakespeare's plays, to musicals and magicians, and to vaudeville and silent movies. All of the greats performed in San Bernardino's finest theater, including Lillie Langtry, Al Jolson, Lillian Russell, Harry Houdini, Will Rogers, Sarah Bernhardt, Edwin Booth, the Barrymores and many more.
The Opera House was located on the east side of D Street between 3rd and 4th Streets and was torn down in 1927.
The chair and the painting of James Waters were donated to the San Bernardino Historical and Pioneer Society by Mary Renter, the great-great-granddaughter of James Waters.
Click here for a detailed look at the Opera House.
Click here for the story of Jim Waters, from mountainman to builder of an opera house.