Native Sons of the Golden West dedicated a mini-park in Calistoga on Saturday November 11th, commemorating the Napa Valley Electric Railway…
Pictures below courtesy of Grand Trustee Doug Love from Napa Parlor #62
From 1912 to 1937, the San Francisco & Napa Valley Railroad provided passenger and freight service between Vallejo Wharf and Calistoga using electric equipment powered by 600-volt overhead wire. As was the case with many short line railroads, the Great Depression and the growth of good roads and dependable motor vehicles doomed the SF&NV and passenger service was discontinued in 1937.
The railroad began in 1905, running between Vallejo and Napa. It opened service to Calistoga in 1912.
Until recently, a fragment of SF&NV’s rails remained in Washington Street in Calistoga. Calistoga Parlor dedicated the track-age in 1999 but, despite the efforts of Calistoga Parlor and other groups, the city removed the rails during repaving of the street.
Some original rails remained and Calistoga Parlor teamed with Calistoga Native Daughters and Grand Parlor to create a “mini” rail-road park adjacent to Washington Street, featuring a segment of the rail, the original 1999 plaque, a new plaque and photos of the railroad.
Grand President Joe Castillo and a team of grand officers dedicated the park on November 14. The dedication, originally scheduled for May 2, 2020, was postponed because of the Corona virus.
In 1901, Col. J.W. Hartzell and his brother H.F. Hartzell secured a franchise to build an electric railway line, which allowed them the right to build on city streets and along county roads. The line paralleled much of the already existing route of the Napa Valley Railroad. In April 1902, the Benicia, Vallejo & Napa Valley Railroad Company was incorporated. The line originated at the port of Vallejo where it met the ferry connecting to San Francisco. From there, it headed northwards for a total of 41.7 miles (67.1 km) to terminate at Calistoga, passing through Napa, Yountville, Oakville, Rutherford, and St. Helena. Construction of the railroad commenced in 1903 and trains began running from Vallejo to Napa following a grand opening on July 4, 1905. The line was extended to Yountville by 1907 and on January 1, 1908 the line extended St. Helena and followed by Calistoga on September 2, 1908. The railroad went through several reorganizations and name changes throughout its lifetime. It was named San Francisco, Vallejo & Napa Valley Railroad in 1906 and 1911 it was renamed San Francisco, Napa & Calistoga Railway Company. The railroad remained in operation until 1936. In 1938 22 miles (35 km) of track and power lines between Napa and Calistoga were removed.
The electrically powered railroad was the first west of the Mississippi River to operate on alternating current. Much of the early passenger equipment consisted of graceful wooden cars manufactured by Niles and very similar to some equipment of the Sacramento Northern Railway. By 1931 the line operated 9 motor passenger cars with 5 unpowered trailer passenger cars, and one electric locomotive with twenty freight cars. The line used 25 Hz AC at 3,300 Volts rather than the direct-current equipment used on most interurban railroads.
Two steel cars built in 1933 were the last traditional interurban cars built in the United States before PCC streetcars were designed.
Information courtesy Wikipedia