History 1910 - 1947

Greetings fellow train enthusiast.  What I'm trying to do is show a quarter century of trains on the Tidewater Southern Railroad.  I started railfanning the Tidewater Southern around 1972.  At that time the crews and equipment were a separate entity but still under the umbrella of the Western Pacific.  I hope to show photographically the evolution of trains on the TS (Tidewater Southern).

The TS Ry started out as an interurban electric railway.  It was to run from Stockton California to Fresno down the San Joaquin Valley.  The Tidewater & Southern Railroad was incorporated to build a standard gauge railroad from Stockton south in 1910.  By 1910 the silt had built up to a point it forced back river navigation on the San Joaquin River to Stockton.  Earlier boats had been able to navigate as far south as Fresno.  Hence the name "Tidewater" in the name was fitting.  The T&S RR. laid about four miles of rail on a graded road bed of nine miles between Modesto and Turlock.  Another company with the title of Tidewater & Southern Transit Company was incorporated in February 1912.  This company graded some roadbed near the Merced River.  In March of 1912 these two companies consolidated to form the Tidewater Southern Railway.

Construction continued during 1912 which meant that a stretch of electric railway was able to open in October from Taylor street, Stockton to Modesto for a mileage of 32.23 miles.  The first equipment consisted of a home built, wooden steeple-cab, electric locomotive #100 which was built on a flat car.  The shops of the Central California Traction Company in Stockton built it to work freight service.  Three Jewett-built combination cars numbered #200, #201 and #202 were the first passenger equipment on this little railway.  Stockton Electric Railway, a jointly used track with Central California Traction Company was used from the down-town terminal to the city limits.  There trains ran on their own track with 1200 volts D.C. with overhead construction for the trolleys.

Tidewater Southern was operating 24 trains daily between Stockton and Modesto in 1916. The 33 mile trip took 65 minutes.  Picnic trains were run to the Stanislaus River during nice weather with special rates in effect on Saturday evenings and Sunday roundtrips.

In July, 1916 the Tidewater Southern put its 16 mile extension to Turlock into operation. Plans for further extensions down the valley never materialized with electrification not going past south of Modesto.  Interurbans never made it to the passenger depot in Turlock.

The southward extension dovetailed into plans of the Western Pacific Railroad.  With that in mind, a majority of stock was purchased in 1917 by the Western Pacific of the Tidewater Southern Railroad.  With new ownership Western Pacific steam locomotive 126 was purchased by the Tidewater Southern.  A ten-wheeler, it was used in construction of the railroad south of Modesto and renumbered to Tidewater Southern #1.  1917 saw the freight only extension to Hilmar of 8 miles built with it opening in July.  March 1918 brought the completion of the freight only Manteca branch of 6.6 miles.  The route into Stockton saw a change, by leaving the original route of Sharp Lane, to Ortega on a 3.6 mile line to down-town Stockton in 1917.

June 1921 saw the purchase of  a standard 60-ton GE freight motor numbered 106.  This was to handle the freight traffic which was on the increase.  The Tidewater Southern owned two cabooses numbered 301 and 302.  Two second hand cabooses replaced the original cabooses in 1939 keeping the same numbers.

Passenger demands brought the use of two Holman-built trailers from the CCT on a as need basis.

Increasing numbers and use of automobiles brought a decline in passenger revenues despite  the excellent service.  A cut back in service brought the number of trains to 18 and even lower number of 8 trains daily by 1932.  The last electric interurban ran on May 26,1932 with the line being cut back to Ortega.  Passengers were carried with a daily mixed freight pulled by steam.

The interurban cars were used as caboose-coaches for a short time after being de-motored and trolley equipment removed.  Later on they were de-trucked to be used as section houses at Hatch.

With the exception of 2.1 miles between Modesto and north to Aurora and yard trackage, due to a franchise in Modesto barring steam on Ninth Street, all overhead was removed.  The two electric motors #100 and #106 continued to haul the freight trains the 1.5 miles down Ninth Street and do the local switching.

Western Pacific steam engines were used often to handle the perishable fruit and vegetable traffic rush.  WP # 124 a consolidation was used along with a ten-wheeler form the 90 series engines during these rushes.  Sierra Railroad #32 a Baldwin-built 2-6-2 was purchased in 1940 by the Tidewater Southern.  This small engine had been built in 1932 for the Angles Branch and was well suited for the former interurban's light trackage.  In 1941 it was renumbered to 132 to avoid confusion with WP #32 in Stockton.  Tidewater Southern engines were and still are serviced in Stockton at the roundhouse.

During W.W.II the TS would borrow whatever diesel switchers it could, in desperation, from the WP.  This started the dieselization on the TS, however it wasn't until after the war that the TS was able to purchase its own diesels.  A 44-tonner from GE was purchased in 1947 and given the number #135.  It was purchased in November with the Sacramento Northern fleet of 44-tonners.  April saw the arrival of two 70-ton GE switchers numbered 141 and 142.