History of Transportation in Imperial County, California
From: The History of Imperial County, California
Edited by: F. C. Farr
Published by: Elms and Franks
Berkeley, CA 1918


THE main line of the Los Angeles division of the Southern Pacific from just north of Bertram to the Colorado River at Yuma, for a distance of about ninety miles, was first operated in the spring of 1877.

From the present station of Niland (originally known as Old Beach and then later called Imperial Junction), a branch line runs south to Calexico on the international boundary line for a distance of 41 miles, first operated to Imperial in the spring of 1903, and thence to Calexico in the summer of 1904.

The above branch line thence continues easterly through the northern portion of Lower California and returns to Imperial County at Cantu, thence northerly for a distance of 2.6 miles to a connection with the first above mentioned main line at Araz Junction.

From El Centro a branch line runs west to New River at Seeley for a distance of 8.3 miles to a connection with the San Diego and Arizona Railway.

From Calipatria a branch line runs west and thence south for a distance of 12.6 miles to Westmorland, first operated June, 1917.

From Colorado, a station on the main line, across the Colorado River from Yuma, a branch line runs northeasterly, generally following said river, for a distance of 12.2 miles to Potholes, at the site of the government's Laguna Dam, first operated April, 1908.

From a connection with the Southern Pacific Company's branch line at Seeley the San Diego and Arizona Railway Company's main line extends westerly for a distance of 27 miles to a point on Imperial County boundary line about a mile west of Silica.

From a connection with the Southern Pacific Company's branch line at El Centro the Holton Interurban Railway Company's electric line extends easterly for a distance of about 11 miles to Holtville.


The San Diego and Arizona Railway Company was incorporated December 15, 1906, for the purpose of constructing a transcontinental railroad from San Diego, California, eastward through Imperial Valley, the intention being to connect with the Southern Pacific system at New River, a distance of about one hundred forty miles.

On account of numerous difficulties encountered, which were unforeseen and unavoidable, the construction work has been slow. However, the work is now progressing at a rate which indicates that within the near future Imperial Valley will be connected by a short line haul with another deep water port, and which will naturally open up additional markets.

In carrying out the purpose for which the company was incorporated, the railroad was planned and is being constructed for transcontinental business. The roadbed and structures are built for heavy traffic, and the curves and grades are the lightest possible through the mountainous country traversed, the summit (3650 feet elevation) being reached from San Diego with a maximum grade of 1.4 per cent. Terminal facilities have been provided on the same basis, the company owning over sixty acres in the San Diego shop site, 50 acres in freight yards and terminals, and have secured the right from State and city to sixty acres on the bay front for wharves; three hundred and twenty acres were secured for helper station, shops, etc., in Imperial Valley, near the "west side main canal."

In addition to the advantages offered for transportation of freight the line will prove attractive to the tourist. The scenery over the mountains and through the Carriso Canon is varied and attractive. Entering Mexico through a tunnel just west of Campo, the line runs for forty four miles through a foreign country ever interesting to the tourist, crossing into the United States again at Tijuana, which place is visited annually by thousands of tourists. The longest tunnel on the line - 2600 feet - is encountered in the Carriso Canon.

The company has recently purchased the San Diego and South Eastern Railroad, with some 85 miles of roadway, traversing the rich farming valleys surrounding San Diego, which will be a feeder for the transcontinental line.


The Holton Inter-Urban Railway Company was incorporated, along with the other utilities of the Valley, by W. F. Holt in December, 1903, with a capital stock of $200,000.00. The road connects El Centro with Holtville (a distance of about eleven miles) and is of standard gauge construction. The company carries both freight and passenger traffic and has recently put in service gas motor cars for carrying passengers, which have a special wheel attachment (the invention of W. F. Holt) permitting the cars to run either on the railroad track or on the public streets and highways. This innovation in railroad service is not only a novelty, but is a practical convenience to the public, which is showing its appreciation by very liberal patronage. The invention has created wide spread Interest throughout the country, and this method of transportation will no doubt be extended to the large railroad systems, particularly in connection with inter-urban traffic. The general offices of the Holton Inter-Urban Railway Company are also located at Riverside, under the same management as the other companies.

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