Saturday, September 11, 2010

Freight trains on Fourth Street?

Along with the Vasona Branch layout in the garage, I've also got a shelf layout focusing on the old San Jose Market Street station inside the house.

Originally, the Southern Pacific line from San Francisco curved east near present day Coleman Ave., crossed north of downtown San Jose, then turned onto Fourth Street and proceeded through downtown San Jose on its way to Los Angeles. The Espee had a fifty year franchise to run trains on Fourth Street starting in the 1870's, and by the 1920's, San Jose was sick of mainline trains snarling traffic and dirtying laundry hung outside. After a good deal of fighting with the locals, the Southern Pacific finally re-routed their mainline around the west side of town, and built the current station on Cahill Street near the Alameda. Any traffic jams after that point could only be blamed on the automobiles.

This photo from the Willow Glen Resident newspaper shows why the town wanted the Southern Pacific off Fourth Street. Apologies for the bad reproduction, but the newspaper hasn't gotten around to put the photo online.

One obvious detail I can see I need to add to my shelf layout: lots of cars stopped at the railroad crossing, cursing the railroad. I could even play a tape loop of drivers cursing to make the scene realistic, but then my layout would be rated NC-17.

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