Los Angeles and Independence Railroad - History

History

The Los Angeles and Independence Railroad Company was incorporated in January 1875 with Francisco P. Temple, John P. Jones, Robert S. Baker, T. N. Park, James A. Pritchard, J. S. Slauson, and J. U. Crawford, as directors. Col. Crawford was the engineer and general manager.

The 16.67 miles (26.83 km) of track between Los Angeles and Santa Monica were privately built without government subsidies or land grants, all in a little over ten months - primarily using 67 Chinese laborers imported for the task. Right-of-way between Los Angeles and Santa Monica was given by local ranchers who were anxious to have access to a railroad. The line opened October 17, 1875, with two trains a day running between Santa Monica and Los Angeles; the fare was fixed at $1.00 per trip, freight at $1.00 per ton.

Opposition to continued construction East of Los Angeles by Southern Pacific Railroad's refusal to allow crossing of their main line tracks, and the unexpected depletion and closure of the Panamint silver mine in 1877 (owned by Jones), led to severe fiscal difficulties for the young steam line. On July 4, 1877 the Los Angeles & Independence was acquired by Southern Pacific.

New owner Southern Pacific extended the existing wharf to allow access to larger ships by 1891. The wharf allowed ship-to-shore offloading, making the line a freight and passenger hauler of growing importance.

However, the U.S. Government's 1899 decision to build a breakwater in San Pedro and create the Port of Los Angeles, effectively doomed both natural harbors' (Redondo Beach and Santa Monica) use for commercial shipping traffic.

With the Port of Los Angeles nearing completion in 1908 and Santa Monica shipping traffic ceasing, Southern Pacific leased the railroad line and Santa Monica wharf to Los Angeles Pacific (a forerunner to Pacific Electric) which electrified the portion between the long wharf and Sentous (La Cienega) in that year. The remainder of the line was electrified by 1911 when various electric railroads merged under the Pacific Electric name. The wharf was demolished in 1913.

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