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California \ San Joaquin & Sierra Nevada Railroad

San Joaquin & Sierra Nevada.

The San Joaquin & Sierra Nevada was incorporated in 1882 to connect the growing population of Calaveras County and its farmers with the deep water ports of San Francisco. Unsatisfied with the Southern Pacific's rates and service as well as high taxes at the Port of Stockton, local promoters took it upon themselves to build their own railroad to avoid the higher rates of the alternatives.

Stretching from Bracks Landing (10 miles west of Woodbridge on the San Joaquin Delta) to Woodbridge and Lodi and then east to the Sierra Nevada foothill town of Valley Springs. The railroad was incorporated on March 28, 1882 and construction was completed on April 15, 1885. The railroad was built as a common carrier with copper mining being its primary traffic. The track was built using 35/40 lb steel rails. There was also a portion of the line that ran from Woodbridge then west for 10.6 miles to Bracks Landing, a location on the San Joaquin Delta. Brack's Landing was located on the Brack Tract on the east side of South Mokelumne River, between Hog Slough and Terminous.

On March 15, 1888 the San Joaquin & Sierra Nevada was consolidated into Southern Pacific Railroad's (SP) subsidiary, the Northern Railway Company. In 1897, the Northern Railway abandoned the track between Woodbridge and Brack's Landing and converted the rest of the line to standard gauge. The following year, the Northern Railway was consolidated into the Southern Pacific.

In 1925/1926, Southern Pacific extended the branch line 8 miles east into the Sierras to its ending point known as Kentucky House (or Kentucky Home). The last 4 miles of the branch at Kentucky House were sold to the Calaveras Cement Company in April 28, 1929. The Calaveras Cement Company closed the plant at Kentucky House in 1984. Prior to 1984, the SP was operating three freight trains per week between Lodi and Kentucky House. The branch was listed in Southern Pacific timetables as the Kentucky House Branch and interchanged at Lodi with the SP mainline that ran from Stockton - Sacramento. After the cement plant closed, the branch was used to store railroad freight cars. Eventually the tracks were removed. The line from Woodbridge to Lodi is known as the Woodbridge Branch and terminates near the General Mills plant in Lodi.

Revised: November 7, 2017

Reference Data Available Online:


A History of the San Joaquin & Sierra Nevada Railroad. by Randy Hees.
An indepth look at the railroad from inception to its sale to the Southern Pacific.

Southern Pacific 1010, the history of a single California narrow gauge passenger car. By Randy Hees.
Outlines the history of the SN&SN's first passenger car which would later become Southern Pacific 1010.


Collected San Joaquin & Sierra Nevada Photographs.
Images collected from private collections, libraries and historical societies.


The Route Of The San Joaquin & Sierra Nevada For Google Earth. By Andrew Brandon.

California \ San Joaquin & Sierra Nevada Railroad
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