The fiasco of the old San Joaquin Valley Railroad that began construction on July 4, 1891 and ended 1892 with a failed dream, in many ways began Clovis. In the late nineteenth century several embarrassing revelations generated evidence for those who believed that the Southern Pacific Railroad had corrupted state and local politics.
David Colton served as the manager of the railroad’s political interests in California. Following Colton’s death in 1878, his widow sued the big four RR for cheating her out of part of her inheritance. At the trial Mrs. Colton introduced hundreds of letters and other documents signed by her late husband with railroad officials. The letters brought to light the conspiracies of railroad executives to influence elections and votes in the state legislature.
Collis Huntington and Leland Stanford feuded in the early 1890s when Huntington publicly denounced Stanford for using large amounts of railroad money to secure Stanford’s election as a senator. Stanford’s private secretary later published a series of letters that implicated him in the corruption by the railroad.
The San Joaquin Valley Railroad suspected conspiracies captivated people throughout the state to the turn of the century.
Built in part to replace the Fresno Flume Irrigation Company’s log flume, the railroad had great promise for the area. Starting at a site now under Shaver Dam, the flume traveled 42 miles into the valley ending at the Clovis Lumber Co. Today, the old lumber company site is home to the Clovis Rodeo Grounds and Clark Intermediate School. The flume and lumber company shutdown in 1914, but Clovis kept on growing.
Part of the old failed San Joaquin railroad, were several outbuildings. When the railroad died Clovis Cole managed to keep some of them but over the years they fell into disrepair. Clovis Historical Society refurbished the only remaining depot of three buildings saved by Clovis Cole.Now located at Clovis Ave. and 4th Streets, the Tarpey Depot re opened to the public August. 1, 2000 following extensive historic restoration.
About Town Taste walking adventures steps back in time on its Antiques & Art tour this Saturday 4/16 at 10a. We’ll visit the old depot and so much more, as we walk through Clovis enjoying the art, antiques and tasty bites in the charming old town area. Advance reservations needed via info@AboutTownTaste or 559.392.4471 just $25pp including the food!