After the discussion a while back about the 'Friendly' Southern Pacific and Western Pacific's fight over Valley Wholesale Grocery's spur in Sacramento back in 1935, I'd have assumed that the two railroads would never get along, and certainly wouldn't encourage customers on their line to use the competitor even a bit.
Then we get photos like this one, again from the John C. Gordon collection at San Jose State. Go off and look at the full photo for a moment, then come back here; it's worth examining in detail.
Now, the photo's pretty innocuous - brick warehouse, lots of Western Pacific cars, non-specific industry name, some late 1920's color (like billboards and probably a Model A). My first guess would be that it's some random industry on the WP in San Jose, but a quick glance through Track and Time's track diagrams don't hint at any likely sites around San Jose... nor in Oakland.
PG&E generating plant just off Montgomery Street in San Jose, next to the Santa Cruz branch (and eventually just south of Diridon Station), but... nah, can't be - why would WP boxcars be there?
Cowell Cement's retail operation was at 583 West Santa Clara Street... right where HP Pavilion and the Shark Tank is now. Zoom in on the building, and see the number "591" suggesting that we've got the address right.
So what we really have here is a photo of a warehouse along the former Cahill Street just south of the Alameda / Santa Clara Street and north of San Fernando Street. These warehouses would be disappearing in a few years, torn down so Diridon Station can be built on this exact location. If I could read that truck license plate towards the right of the photo, I might even be able to guess at the year of the photo, or perhaps the "Kopp's Transfer" gives another detail.
I still have no clue why Material Supply Corp. is receiving so many WP cars. Maybe the SP was remarkably friendly during the 1920's about spotting cars for the WP. Maybe those ICC reciprocal switching rules were iron-clad, even when the cars needed to be delivered to an SP-owned building. Or maybe Material Supply was getting most of its incoming supplies from the WP...
But the photo does highlight what the West San Jose area looked like before Diridon Station went in, and it almost convinces me to backdate my layout a couple years. I've modeled this area as if the construction and track raising for Diridon Station had started in 1932 or 1933, but the area for these warehouses is just an underused siding and a temporary station in a passenger car up on blocks. If I was willing to get rid of the Alameda underpass and the slightly raised ground level, I could get a lot of traffic from that warehouse... and I'd also get the advantage of the insane traffic levels that would be prototypical in the late 1920s.
Got ideas why there's so many WP boxcars spotted here, see something interesting in the picture, or got an opinion on whether I should move my layout back a few years? Add a comment and throw in your two cents!