Friday
Jul252014

June 19, 1888 - S. B., Arrowhead & Waterman R.R.

S.B.A.W.R.R. = San Bernardino, Arrowhead and Waterman Railroad. The tracks ended at Harlem Springs and never got to Arrowhead Springs.

The San Bernardino, Arrowhead & Waterman RailRoad Company was incorporated on October 28, 1887.  It then obtained a franchise from the County for a narrow gauge steam railroad from San Bernardino city limits at 6th and Waterman to Harlem Hot Springs at Base Line St. and Pepper Ave. (now Victoria Ave.).

An engine, two open passengers cars, lumber and rail were purchased.  Construction on the steam road to Harlem Springs began on January 12, 1888 and its grand opening took place on June 19, 1888.

Also in June, the company secured a franchise for a horse car line to transport passengers from 7th Street and A Street (now Sierra Way) to downtown San Bernardino.  By November, 1888, the horse car line to the Santa Fe Depot was completed.  Two horse cars were bought for $1,100 each and two mules were obtained.

In November the company constructed its engine house, machine shop and stables on its at 7th & A Streets.  

By January of 1891, the "City Extension" from 7th and A Streets to the "Union Motor Depot" on Third Street (between E and F Streets) was completed.  This depot served all three of the city's motor lines: to Redlands, to Riverside and to Harlem and later both the Southern Pacific and Pacific Electric operated from this location. 

The high hopes of the promoters did not materialize.  The road failed to be profitable, in part due to the expensive cost of coal for Engine No. 1, seen below.  

Engine No. 1 had been operating on coal imported from Australia. In 1895 Water Kohl had the engine converted to oil at the Santa Fe shops.

On March 6, 1893, operations on the narrow gauge were suspended.  In January, 1894, the horse line, starved for passengers, was abandoned as being unprofitable.

In September of 1894, the company filed papers in insolvency procedings.  On November 30, 1895, the stock was sold to the Kohl brothers and John Andreson and the railroad became known as the "Kohl Road".  The Kohls turned it into a successful venture and six years later sold the old Harlem Motor Road to the San Bernardino Valley Traction Company, an electric streetcar company. 

(from Ira Swett's Tractions of the Orange Empire.)

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