Author: TracyRail (page 1 of 2)

“Days Of First Railroad”

When visiting the Tracy Historical Museum, if you only see what is directly in front of you, you may miss something magnificent farther above eye level.

Among those “somethings” is a rare and wonderful mural by the Oakland-born artist Edith Hamlin (1902–1992), whose other works included murals at Coit Tower and Mission High School in San Francisco, and at the Department of the Interior in Washington, D.C.

Muralist Edith Hamlin (Photo)

Edith Hamlin at work on the Mission High School mural, circa 1936.

Shortly after the United States Post Office opened at the corner of 12th and Adam streets here in 1937, Miss Hamlin painted a series of three murals depicting Tracy’s early history.

The first, entitled “Spaniards (1776-1848),”  and the third, entitled “Days of First Railroad (1878),” are displayed prominently in that same building, which is now our Tracy Historical Museum.

Unfortunately, the whereabouts of the second mural — “Overland Pioneers,” depicting a family traveling by ox-drawn covered wagon — is unknown.

Detail from "Spaniards" (Edith Hamlin, 1938)

Detail from “Spaniards” on display at the Tracy Historical Museum

“Days of First Railroad” bears the date of 1878, purported to be the year that the Central Pacific Railroad consolidated its operations from Lathrop, Bantas, Ellis and Midway at the spot originally known as Tracy Junction.

The locomotive represented in the mural is the fanciful “S.P.R.R. 42,” a brightly-painted 4-4-0 steamer in Southern Pacific Railroad livery that we have yet to find evidence of having existed.

Overland Pioneers Mural (Image)

“Overland Pioneers” being readied for display at the Tracy Post Office

Miss Hamlin originally attended the California School of Fine Arts in San Francisco, then matriculated to the Teachers College at Columbia University in Manhattan. Hearing that government-subsidized work for artists was available in San Francisco, Miss Hamlin learned to drive and migrated back west during the height of the Great Depression to join two dozen other artists in the mural project at Coit Tower.

Putting down stakes in San Francisco, she accepted a prized commission to paint the murals at the city’s Mission High School, attracting the assistance of the noted artist Maynard Dixon, who at the time was married to the eminent photographer Dorothea Lange.

(Miss Lange also spent a substantial amount of time in Tracy and its environs during this era, creating an iconic series of photographs while documenting Depression-era migrants … but that’s a tale for another time.)

Edith Hamlin's "Days Of First Railroad" (Detail Image)

Detail view of “Days of First Railroad”
(Click image for enlarged view)

From the evidence available, Mr. Dixon’s marriage to Miss Lange disintegrated, and he and Miss Hamlin were married in 1937 and remained together until his death in 1946 at the age of 71.

Miss Hamlin continued a distinguished career as an artist and curator of her husband’s life works, many of which are preserved at the Maynard and Edith Hamlin Dixon House and Studio, their summer home in Mount Carmel, Utah, where they worked and lived during their brief time together.

The couple’s other home and studio, located in Tucson, Ariz., has also been designated for preservation as part of that city’s heritage.

Edith Hamlin and Maynard Dixon (Photo)

Edith Hamlin and Maynard Dixon

Beyond California, Miss Hamlin worked throughout the southwest, notably in New Mexico and Arizona; she was one of the earliest artists to have discovered the unusual beauty of Taos, N.M., and she created lasting murals for the Arizona Biltmore Hotel dining room in Phoenix; and St. Ambrose Catholic Church and the Old Pueblo Club in Tucson, Arizona.

Miss Hamlin lived out the final years of her life in San Francisco, where she died in 1992.

For more about Edith Ann Hamlin, we invite you to visit:

 

 

 

Eastbound OAMJM At Tracy, 1981

Fresh into our yardmaster’s office today is this big win off of eBay, showing Southern Pacific Railroad SD-9 4426 and partner(s?) leading a string of cars under the old Eleventh Street overpass in 1981, headed out of town toward Banta and Mossdale.

This view can no longer be replicated for several reasons, not the least of which is the tear-down and rebuild of the old overpass.

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Southern Pacific Railway Yards, Tracy

The backside of this picture postcard has “Monday, Oct 25, 1948” penciled in script, so we’re guessing that this view of the Southern Pacific Railroad’s yard is from the mid to late 1940s.

The caption under the photo on the postcard reads “Southern Pacific Railway Yards and Shops, Tracy, California.”

If you’re looking at this photograph today, imagine yourself on the roof of the Tracy Transit Center, facing toward the new-fangled overpass that recently opened, taking 11th Street over the Union Pacific tracks.

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Jack Godwin, Carbona Station Agent

Jack Godwin served as station agent at the Western Pacific Railroad’s Carbona depot from 1954 until his death in 1974. Ten years after he arrived, wife and children in tow, the WP renamed the stop “Tracy” on their timetables, as well as on the station’s roof-top nameboard.

The Ted Benson photo featured above shows Jack in a classic railroader’s pose, fingers on the telegrapher’s key, carrying on a conversation with his colleagues down the line in well-timed dots and dashes.

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The San Joaquin Daylight, May 1968

Southern Pacific Timetable 10

From the Southern Pacific’s official Timetable #10, issued on May 12, 1968, showing a portion of the schedule for the San Joaquin Daylight for the segment during which it traversed the so-called “Mococo Line” (from MOuntain COpper COmpany) from Martinez to Tracy and back again.

At this time, the San Joaquin Daylight would depart each morning at 8:58 AM, seven days a week, from the station in Martinez, taking about 48 minutes to travel the 48 rail miles to the Tracy depot.

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The Southern Pacific Employees Clubhouse (1913)

Here’s a tinted picture postcard of the Southern Pacific Railroad’s “Employee Club,” located for many years along an extension of C Street in the downtown Tracy railyard.

SP Clubhouse Sign

The sign above the Club’s front door…

The clubhouse served as a rest stop for SP train crews between trips — a place to grab forty winks, a bite to eat, or shoot some pool (or some bull) before hitting the high iron again.

The club lacked air conditioning in the early portion of the 20th Century, so a screened-in “porch” upstairs allowed off-duty workers to sleep beneath the stars and escape the oppressive heat of summertime evenings in the San Joaquin Valley.

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Tracy Yard Improvement Program Near Completion (1961)

Back in May 1961, the Southern Pacific Railroad began moving the first of hundreds of railcars to the “other side” of the Eleventh Street overpass in Tracy, marking the shut-down of operations in the city’s downtown area — ending nearly a hundred years in the sprawling facility that included a passenger depot, two roundhouses, numerous water tanks and freight docks in the “Bowtie.”

SP Tracy Yard Opens (Elroy Pope Photo, May 1961)The June-July 1961 edition of the railroad’s employee magazine, The SP Bulletin, featured a two-page article on the move, including photographs of the new yard being filled on Day One (May 16, 1961) and Tracy yardmaster Elroy Pope controlling operations from his perch in the new tower overlooking the rails, which covered (then and now) the territory from the Eleventh Street overpass all the way to Banta Road.

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Renaming One Of Tracy’s Three Schulte Roads

Tracy has three roads named Schulte Road. You know — if you come into town off 580 at Patterson Pass Road, then drive past the big Costco and Safeway warehouses, you are on Schulte Road, which dead-ends at Lammers Road.

But if you turn right onto Lammers, just before the train tracks you can make a left turn onto … Schulte Road.

If you drive to the end of that version of Schulte Road, which bottoms out at Corral Hollow Road, you can hook a quick, awkward and sometimes dangerous U-turn around the tracks, then drive a couple of blocks to the next signal light which is, of course … Schulte Road. Why wouldn’t it be?

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The Carbona Curve

If you live in Tracy or its outskirts, you’re undoubtedly familiar with the names of the several villages that rest at the city’s edges. You know, places like Tesla, Carbona, Banta, Lyoth, Kerlinger, Ludwig, and Rhodes.

Wait. You’re not familiar with all those names? Well, sure, Banta is fairly well known — there’s still something there — but what about Carbona?

You may actually drive past the “Carbona Curve” on occasion and not know that it’s there. In fact, if you ride an ACE train through Tracy to or from points east (such as Stockton or Manteca), then you’ve rolled through Carbona.

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Jimmie Dameron (1933-2015)

The Tracy Press and the Tracy Historical Museum have reported the passing of Jimmie L. Dameron, a retired Southern Pacific Railroad engineer and resident of the city for the past 55 years.

Jimmie Dameron (1933-2015)Mr. Dameron, who was 81 years old, died on October 29, 2015, at Sutter Tracy Community Hospital following a brief illness. He had been scheduled to present a discussion at the museum on October 21 covering his lengthy and colorful career with the SP when he fell ill. (The program has been re-scheduled for November 18, with Stephen Ridolfi replacing Mr. Dameron. Please click here for more information.)

Born in Turlock and raised in Delhi (Merced County), Mr. Dameron and his wife moved to Tracy in 1960 when he began his career as a brakeman with the SP. He later advanced to engineer with the railroad, and served as local chairman for the United Transportation Union.

Upon his retirement from the SP, he became a part-time engineer of the Redwood Valley Railway scale model live-steam train in Tilden Park in the Berkeley hills. Over the years, according to his obituary, he was an ardent devotee of steam locomotives and was a passenger  — and sometimes volunteer assistant engineer — on numerous steam-powered trains while traveling throughout the world. He also visited countless railroad museums over the years.

Read Mr. Dameron’s full obituary on the Tracy Press website.

 

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