WESTERN PACIFIC IS BORN
It was said that Walter J. Bartnett was a man of force
and had a real ability as a genuine promoter. It also seemed
Bartnett possesed two characteristics favorable to a
promoter, imagination and persuasiveness. He possesed an
imagination in the real sense of the power to conceive and
he also possessed the ability to make you see, to visualize,
as he did, the pictures and promises which his imagination
conceived. About medium height and rather slender, he was a
man of rather striking appearance having a dark complextion,
with long coal-black straight hair. His ability to impress
himself, as well as his views, on others was immediately
made evident in any conference or gathering.
Although Bartnett had failed to find any buyers in New York to purchase the Alameda and San Joaquin Railroad Company in early 1902 he had not given up. Returning to San Francisco empty handed he then conceived the idea of selling the Alameda and San Joaquin as a part of a new transcontinental road. He then set about gathering local investors and facilitated the incorporation of the San Francisco Terminal Railway and Ferry Company as well as the Stockton and Beckwith Pass Railway Company which then secured franchises and terminal options in Oakland and Stockton and began making right-of-way locations through the Feather River Canyon and Beckwith Pass.
Shortly after the incorporation of the Stockton and Beckwith Pass Railway Company Bartnett again journeyed to New York with the franchises, terminal options and right-of-way locations in his possesion. Unknown to Bartnett, H. H. Yard, whose cousin was an engineer for Gould, had been sent out to California to aquire a right of way for Gould’s proposed western extention. He succeeded in the that endeaver and beat Bartnett at several points, most notably on the grade up the Feather River Canyon. It was when things had reached that point that Bartnett went East to see what he could do with his scheme. He now had the Corral Hollow road and two paper companies which included a number of surveys, although he had no terminal facilities in San Francisco as of yet because he could not, at the time, disclose the real condition of his project. He was obliged to be mysterious for obvious reasons. Yard of course knew what Bartnett was doing, but Bartnett knew nothing of what Yard was doing except what he could guess. Yard, by securing the better right of way for his Butte and Plumas railroad, of course placed a lever in the hands of Gould to force Bartnett at the right time to come to his terms.
Not originally intending to get the backing of George Gould, or rather not certain that he could get it, once in New York he did though, call on Gould. During this visit he convinced Gould that these companies could not be ignored. If Gould could have arranged a satisfactory adjustment of the freight question with Harriman he would probably would not have entertained the offer now in front of him. Gould’s reaction though was this man is working on a similar project and this project will further my expansion to the Pacific Coast. Bartnett and Gould then signed an agreement dated February 6, 1903, which provided for the formation of a new company that would take over the various corporations which they each had previously organized so as to build and equip a railroad from Salt Lake City, Utah to San Francisco, California.
With Gould’s signature now affixed to this agreement Bartnett returned to San Francisco arriving on the evening of February 17, 1903. Upon his return, when asked about the reports concerning Gould, Bartnett at first declined to talk, but finally said: "I will neither deny or affirm these stories. All I will say is that both the companies I represent are acting in good faith and will build the roads they have mapped out.
Bartnett then brought together eleven trusted men who on March 3, 1903, gathered at the Safe Deposit Building in the law offices of Booth and Bartnett in San Francisco, California. It was in this office that a meeting was called to order in which its sole purpose was the formation of a new railroad company. Henry F. Fortmann was elected chairman of the meeting and B. M. Bradford elected Secretary. After a general discussion it was resolved by these gentlemen that a corporation be formed to be known by the name of Western Pacific Railway Company.
As entered into the record of that initial meeting the articles of incorporation were filed with the County Clerk of San Francisco that same day. Readers of the San Francisco Chronicle the next day reached page 14 before they learned that those eleven men had sat down around a table and organized a new transcontinental railroad, readers of the San Francisco Call found it on the front page while the Oakland Tribune had it on the last page.
Capitalization of the road was fixed at $50,000,000 with the capital stock divided into 500,000 shares with a par value of $100 each. Walter J. Bartnett who had been involved in the formation of the San Francisco Terminal Railway and Ferry Company and the Stockton and Beckwith Pass Railway Company was the largest subscriber for stock in the new corporation. Publicly Bartnett would only say that he and the other incorporators represented Eastern interests.
The articles set forth that there had been actually subscribed $1,500,000. The names of the subscribers and the amounts set against their names as stock subscriptions were: Henry F. Fortmann, $1000; J. Dalzell Brown, $1000; A. C, Kains, $1000; John Treadwell, $1000; Fred M. West, $1000; Walter J. Bartnett, $1,490,000; James Treadwell, $1000; David F. Walker, $1000; George A. Batchelder, $1000; John Lloyd, $1000; Charles A. Gray, $1000. All of the incorporators were well known in California. Henry F. Fortmann was president of the Alaska Packers Association, J. Dalzell Brown was general manager of the California Safe Deposit and Trust Company, A. C. Kains was officially connected with the Pacific Coast branch of the Canadian Bank of Commerce, John Treadwell and James Treadwell were prominently identified with mining in Alaska, Fred M. West was the president of the Stockton Savings and Loan Society, Walter J. Bartnett, an attorney, was president of the San Francisco and San Joaquin Coal Company and also connected with the California Safe Deposit and Trust Company, David F. Walker was a banker and capitalist with large interests at Salt Lake, George A. Batchelder was the Pacific Coast representative of E. H. Rollins & Co., John Lloyd was president of the German Savings and Loan Society of San Francisco, C. A. Gray was an assistant of Mr. Bartnett whose interest would be taken by other parties later.
C. A. Gray then traveled to Sacramento and appeared in the office of the Secretary of State on the afternoon of March 4th for the purpose of filing the articles of incorporation, at the same time proffering $5005 for the requiste filing fees, $100 on each $1,000,000 of capital stock, plus the fees for the certificate and recording. The Southern Pacifc Company now threw up the first of what would be many roadblocks and the certificates were not issued as requested.
Julius Kruttschnitt, general manager of the Southern Pacific had, upon learning of the incorporation, sent word to Secretary of State C. F. Curry that he would appear before him on March 6th to argue against the issuance of the asked for articles of incorporation. Mr. Herrin of the Southern Pacific Company asserted that there was already a franchise for the “Western Pacific Railway Company” in existence, which was owned by the Southern Pacific Company and which had several years to run although that road was not then in actual existence. Secretary of State Curry said he was friendly to the new railway enterprise and although the interests in the new company were different, the sameness of the names was a cause of concern. He further stated he wanted to look into the facts of the matter and be right before he took any action; so therefor postponed issuance of the articles until the morning of the 6th.
Upon investigation of SP’s assertion the Secretary of State discovered that a Western Pacific Railroad Company had been organized on December 13,1862; that on November 2, 1869 it consolidated with the San Francisco and Alameda Railroad Company and the San Francisco Bay Railroad Company; on June 22, 1870 the Central Pacific Railroad Company of California and the Western Pacific Railroad Company formed themselves into one corporation under the name of the Central Pacific Railroad Company; on December 17, 1877 Southern Pacific Railroad Company and other railroad corporations then existing under the laws of California, were legally consolidated, and a new corporation thereby formed under the name of the Southern Pacific Railroad Company.