Railway centennial celebration is on track

John D. Spreckels applies a spike to a section of railway.

The Alpine Library on May 16 will offer residents and guests, the opportunity to hear about the centennial celebration of the San Diego and Arizona Railway sponsored by Campo’s Pacific Southwest Railway Mu­seum Association, Inc. and its history.

The association’s archivist, Bruce Semelsverger, will be giv­ing the presentation.

“The presentation begins with the early railroad history of San Diego and the arrival of John D. Spreckels,” said Semels­verger. Spreckels financed the railway.

Additionally, Semelsverger will go over the planning, build­ing and operations of the origi­nal railways.

Semelsverger noted John D. Spreckels first attempts to drive a ceremonial spike into the tracks did not go well.

“He (Spreckels) missed the spike, they reset it, he bent it, and then nailed it,” Semelsverger said. “It doesn’t say much for his spike driving skills, but third time was a charm.”

Like Semelsverger Alpine resident, Jim Lundquist, has been a volunteer at the Pacific Southwest Railway Museum Association, Inc. for decades.

“I’ve been a dedicated volun­teer since 1980,” said Lundquist, via email. “Prior to that we had volunteers keeping the museum going. I started in 1969. I’ve been in many positions over the years including president.”

His current volunteer work in­cludes another Alpine resident, Jim Tewksbury.

“Now I’m working on a new ex­hibit on early California history featuring the mine train donat­ed by Roy Athey, which ran for twenty-plus years,” Lundquist said. “The history of railroads, mining, and agriculture will be featured. Jim Tewskbury, from Alpine, is the leader of the west­ern town under construction.”

Entrepreneur John D. Spreck­els financed the railroad at a cost of $18 million, or roughly $123,000 per mile, in 1919. The May 16 presentation also will in­clude information about PSRM’s current, year-long 100-year cen­tennial celebration of the No­vember 1919 completion of the San Diego & Arizona Railway (SD&A), as well as details about a reenactment ceremony at PSRM’s Campo Railroad Park and Museum to be held Satur­day Nov. 16, 2019.

The presentation at the Al­pine Branch Library also will feature slides of old photos and stories. The railroad stretched 148 miles from San Diego to El Centro which included 44 miles in Mexico and took twelve years to complete.

A reenactment of the original ceremony will take place on No­vember 16, 2019 at the Campo location.

Railway centennial celebration is on track


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