Nov. 10, 1897, was a day of celebration in Jamestown. Some 5,000 people waited in anticipation for the arrival of the first excursion train from Oakdale to mark the completion of the Sierra Pacific Railroad from Oakdale to Jamestown.
The five-car train was filled to capacity with 500 cheering passengers. The completed stretch not only connected Jamestown to Oakdale, but Stockton and San Francisco as well. Among the passengers from Stockton were the directors of the “road,” Prince Poniatowski, Frank Pierce, Hall McAllister, A. Sussman, A. Parker, E. S. Bullock and R. Bourne. About 100 of Stockton’s most prominent citizens were also on the train, including the City Council and Board of Supervisors.
W. W. Boothe, the editor of The Mother Lode and acting president of the day’s event, was the first of the speakers to address the crowd that was waiting impatiently for the main event.
And that event was driving in the last railroad tie of the Golden Spike, driven in quite heartily by the road president himself, Prince Poniatowski, the spike only staying in place a short time before being promptly removed and replaced with a more fitting (and less valuable) permanent replacement.
But that certainly was not the end of the day’s festivities. No, they were just beginning, and what a day it was. More speeches followed. George Reader of Quartz Mountain, secretary of the Miner’s Union as well as a prominent miner, continued to stir the already excited crowd into a frenzy of cheers with the promise of Jamestown and the surrounding area now being “brought into civilization”.
The long day ahead would include foot, horse and donkey races for starters. Music and dances would follow, and the Prince would present the Jamestown School District with $100 for a library fund.
The day concluded with yet another hot air balloon ascension and parachute jump (a Tuolumne County favorite), and more black powder explosions and fireworks. Civilization had arrived loud and clear on a promise made by the Golden Spike.
Billie Lyons is curator of the Tuolumne County Museum.