Contributed by Oakland Pioneers)
OAKLAND'S FIRST RAILROAD (No. 2)
By M. T. Dusinbury.
The first locomotive (for the local or Seventh street railroad) was built at the Vulcan Iron Works San Francisco, [and] was brought over in pieces on the Creek boat and put together at the Point. Afterwards they bought from the Market Street Railroad in San Francisco, then a steam line, a mongrel locomotive, known as "Old Betsy," but which was little more than a stationary engine in a box car connected up with a pair of driving wheels. Originally three cars were built at West Oakland and one was bought from the Market Street Railway in San Francisco.
Among the carpenters was a Scotchman of brilliant artistic attainments, who continually amused himself and the other workmen by drawing portraits on pieces of wood, or paper or whatever he could get hold of. Afterward he wrote a book entitled "Squibbs" which was published in San Francisco; then later went East and became famous. He was the well-known writer and artist "Palmer Cox," author of the "Brownies," who also wrote and illustrated for years in the publications of Harpers and others.
The foreman of the road was a Scotsman by the name of Macdonald, who was brought down from the Dalles in Oregon, where he had been engaged in railroad work. One day when we were working on the piling a fellow named Baker came along, asked for work, and was refused. Hanging around and watching the work, he told the foreman that that the piles would drive easier if we did not point them as we were doing. So we tried driving them with the lower ends square and found that they did drive much easier. "Mac" then set Baker to work and he held the job for a long time. I was originally a painter and my friend McBoyle was a drygoods clerk, and Stevens was a relative of mine by marriage. The first train ran on September 3, 1863, the road being known as the "Oakland Ferry and Railroad Company," and five trips a day were made, the fare being 25 cents. The boat running from the pier to San Francisco was the steamer "Louise," which was the first double-ender ferryboat on the bay.
I was conductor of this railroad up to 1870, when I entered the employ of the Oakland Bank of Savings, then located on the west side of Broadway, between Eighth and Ninth Street. There were only four of us altogether in the bank. P. S. Wilcox being President, John L. Browne cashier, a man named Outwater bookkeeper, and myself as assistant cashier.
A few years after the railroad started up, Larue, who was operating the Creek ferry, put his fare down to 5 cents, which resulted in his ferry being bought out by the railroad company.