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Sep 03

1890 Cuesta Grade Tunnel

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Construction scene from the building of tunnel No. 1 on Cuesta Grade circa 1890. The picture is from a booklet that the Tribune published at the time of the railroad opening.

Geography and technology can shape a community.
Cuesta Pass was a major obstacle to travel. Before it was tamed by the railroad and later the freeway the easiest way to move big items was by ship.
Today communities like Port Harford or San Simeon are footnotes in the area’s transportation evolution.
Are you using a whale oil fired computer?
I didn’t think so.
Ah Louis helped provide the labor for the costly multi tunnel construction project. A vibrant Chinatown in San Luis Obispo was one result of the construction.
Towns like Guadalupe thrived with the railroad, others like Santa Maria would have to wait for the freeway to fuel their economic ambitions.
Quoting from historian Dan Krieger’s Tribune column Sunday, October 10, 2004:

San Luis Obispo was on the main line. On May 5, 1894, daily train service was established between San Francisco and San Luis Obispo.
Since the 1850s, communications with “the city” had been chiefly by steamer from Port San Luis. With luck, passengers and goods on board from San Francisco arrived 15 to 20 hours later at what is now Port San Luis. It took between two and 12 hours, depending on the time and the day, for the Pacific Coast Railway to transport goods from the Harford Wharf into our county seat.An information revolution began. Local bankers, lawyers and wealthy investors had grown accustomed to reading the San Francisco newspapers as much as a week after they were printed.
Now the papers arrived on the day of publication.

Related posts:

  1. Cuesta Grade Accident 1963