The Last Portion of a Pivotal Railroad in California Makes Its Debut

October 23, 1914

In a late-afternoon ceremony near the city of Eureka in northwestern California, the last 200 feet (61 meters) of track of the Northwestern Pacific Railroad (NWP) was officially dedicated. This celebration specifically occurred at Chain Rock Bridge. The completion of the PWP occurred just about seven years after that line was created by the consolidation of six companies held by the Santa Fe and Southern Pacific Railroads. 

A major and unexpected complication on the day of the ceremony commemorating the line’s completion involved a landslide along the PWP route at Seneca Creek. This landslide ended up blocking the tracks at that location for a few hours and preventing trains of various dignitaries from as far away as San Francisco and Oakland from making it to the ceremony on time. Nonetheless, the ceremony took place (in the words of one newspaper account) “without a hitch” and was well-attended.  

Alice Palmer broke a bottle of champagne on the rails as part of the celebration. Her father, NWP president W.S. Palmer, then drove a golden spike into the ground there. This was followed by speeches from presiding officials in attendance and a benediction that concluded the ceremony. 

The completed PWP would play a significant role in the growth of that region of California, facilitating the transport of the abundant supply of redwood trees in that area to long-distance markets. The extension of the PWP line – popularly known as the “Redwood Empire Route” – to Eureka helped make that city a formidable force in the timber industry and earned it the nickname of “timber capital” of California.

Additional information on the dedication ceremony for the final section of the Northwestern Pacific Railroad (NWP) is available at San Pedro News Pilot – 24 October 1914

For more information on the NWP, please check out https://sunnyfortuna.com/railroad/

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