Ninety years ago, give or take, Teddy Roosvelt came through San Jose. I ran across the May 12, 1903 San Jose Evening News article about the visit during my search for anything about the Ham Packing fire. Oh, my it was eventful. Better yet, it had railroad content.
Along with the very proper and factual news article from the Evening News's own crew, the paper also quoted from what the big city journalists were writing, and I've got to say they seem awfully jealous of San Jose. I suspect it's living in that fog all the time that makes them bitter. Or they're not eating enough prunes.
The President Didn't Have a Good Time in the Garden CityOn the positive side, it wasn't all noise and dust for Roosvelt, for the Evening News reported the following from its own ace reporters:
This is what Edward H. Hamilton, of the San Francisco Examiner, who has been representing that paper as a member of the President's party since its arrival on the coast, has to say about the visit to San Jose yesterday:
President Roosvelt today had one of the pleasantest and one of the most unpleasant experiences of his entire journey. The pleasant experience was at the Felton Big Trees; the unpleasant one here at San Jose.
Santa Cruz managed her celebration with much tact; San Jose with none. As a consequence this Garden City is having unpleasant things said about it up and down the Presidential train, which has been shifted to a quiet siding at Campbells so the President can sleep.
LUNGS VS. STEAM WHISTLES
Nothing seemed to go just right here at San Jose. The stand for the speaking had been erected right at the station. [Broad gauge or narrow station? I'm guessing the narrow gauge station.] When the President was in the midst of a sentence a locomotive sent up two long, shrill blasts. Now, the human lungs are powerless against a steam whistle, and the President was worsted in the contest. Hardly was this annoyance over when another engine began clanking its bell. Then a third began puffing and coughing as it backed along the track. All this was within 200 feet or less of where the President was trying to make himself heard. Had I been President there would have been remarks not on my original program, but Mr. Roosvelt pulled through without any show of annoyance or temper. Harrison would have been very good under similar circumstances.
GAVE HIM A ROUGH RIDE
Hadly was this ordeal over when the President and his party were put to the torture of a drive of two hours in a thick dust. Whoever was responsible for that journey has something coming to him among the torments of the world beyond. The route was to Santa Clara, then to Campbells and then back by another way. Evidently the local committee thought that as the president had been a Rough Rider he would enjoy a rough ride. They gave it to him.
As if there would not be enough dust for the President in the ordinary nature of things, a gallant cavalcade of local riders rode out in front of the President's carriage and kicked up the dust in cloud after cloud. Citizens in carriages and automobiles kept along as near to his carriage as possible, just so there could be no doubt that he could hereafter say "I am of the soil of San Jose." And so for the greater part of two hours, the Presidential procession was a prostrated pillar of dust by day."
"Hereafter, if you want to prevent a man from getting a Presidential appointment, just say he was on that committee which arranged the San Jose drive."
"There'll be no more tariff on prunes," laughed another.
"Soon after the return of the Presidential party from the drive through the valley last evening the special train in which the night was spent was drawn to Campbell and side-tracked. President Roosvelt was tired with the days experiences and it was decided that his rest would be less disturbed away from the noise and bustle which prevails around the local yards.So the next time you're out in downtown Campbell, look at the railroad tracks and remember that President Roosvelt slept there.
And a challenge for the South Pacific Coast fans among us: so do you think the Presidential train was a narrow gauge train or a standard gauge train? Newspaper articles say that there was standard gauge all the way to Wrights in 1903 (but not through the summit tunnel). Got a guess? Put it in the comments.