c.1900 17

The Oakland, San Leandro, and Haywards Electric Railway (OSL&H) was one of the first electric inter-urban railways in California; for a time, it was the longest electric railway in the country. It was started by Horry W. Meek, Egbert B. Stone, and others in the 1890s. The name was sometimes shortened to the Haywards Electric line or railway when referred to in the newspapers.

In 1890, the county board of supervisors put forth an ordinance giving Meek, Stone, Charles E. Palmer, and William J. Landers the right to build a street railway from the charter line in Oakland to San Leandro, San Lorenzo, and Haywards. 1 Egbert's brother Andrew L. Stone was secretary of the company; in 1891 he said: "Most of us have large property interests along the line of our road. Our original purpose in building the road is to improve our property and give it increased value." 19

Frank Leland supervised construction of the line and later served as superintendent. Construction of the line from Hayward to 13th Avenue in Oakland began in 1891, and it opened on May 7, 1892. In 1893, the line was extended to downtown Oakland. 2 A Tribune article in 1893 suggests it had previously gone to 13th Street and Clay, so there may have been an earlier extension; regardless, by the end of March 1893, the railway ran to 1st and Washington. 3,4

opening day, May 7, 1892 in front of Oakes Hotel in Hayward 2

The OSL&H had a powerhouse and repair shops at Elmhurst. One map suggests the car barn was on the northwest corner of 96th Avenue and East 14th.

Nine conductors were fired in 1894 for charging and pocketing excess fares. 5 In 1895, the railway came under scrutiny of state regulators because they were also hauling freight. 6 They quit the freight business the next year. 8 But during that time, they also implemented one of the first "piggyback" railroad services. Wagons would be rolled onto train cars, then rolled off at the other end for the final delivery. 2,20

Western Railroader, May 1958 23

Roy D. Graves Pictorial Collection at UCB 21

1895 drawing based on photo 6

On the morning of May 20, 1896, the flange of one of the wheels on a westbound train broke, and the car was wrenched from the tracks as it came up from the 12th Street dam. Several people were injured, some of them seriously. 7 This led to several lawsuits being filed against the OSL&H.

Andrew L. Stone resigned as secretary in 1898, and was succeeded by Samuel B. McLenegan, who was formerly the superintendent of the San Francisco and San Mateo Electric Railway. 9

Meek brothers in center 2

The c.1900 photo of car no. 19 from the California State Library collection is labeled:

View of "Oakland San Leandro and Haywards Electric Railway" car no. 19; conductor (left) and motorman standing on running board; car open on side, inside, benches for passengers; sign on front of train: "23rd Avenue, Fruitvale, High Street, Seminary Park"; conductor identified on back of photo as "Chas Estey". ca. 1900. 17

Charles V. Estey, conductor, is listed in the 1894 voter registration. He was born c.1873 in Kansas, and lived in Elmhurst at the time. Estey isn't listed in the 1900 directory, but many employees of the OSL&H are listed living in Elmhurst. An interesting coincidence is that "Kruger" is written on the wheel in the photo; a William F. Kruger is listed as a motorman living in Elmhurst. It doesn't list him as an employee of the OSL&H, but that may have been an oversight or for space considerations.

In April 1900, the railway increased frequency to every 15 minutes. 10 Later that year, electricity from the powerhouse was used to light electric lamps along the county road (E14th). 11

The increased service and power demands may have contributed to 2 of the boilers at the Elmhurst powerhouse exploding on the night of November 3, 1901. Three people were injured, but amazingly no one was killed. Fireman (stoker) Mike Victor was flung 50 feet by the explosion, but escaped serious injury. 12,13

In 1901, William Henshaw, president of the Union Savings Bank, acquired a controlling interest in the OSL&H. Henshaw didn't admit to having transferred it to the Oakland Transit Company (which was controlled by the Realty Syndicate), but volunteered that they had made an offer. A few days later he announced the OSL&H had been sold to the Oakland Transit Company. 14,15,16

In 1906, the narrow gauge line was converted to standard gauge, which helped with the consolidation with the Oakland Transit Company; it became part of the Key System in 1908. 2

1898. Note the powerhouse in the lower left photo 18c.1891-1895 22

Links and References

  1. Ordinance No.— Oakland Tribune October 24, 1890
  2. History of the Electric Railway Hayward Area Historical Society
  3. A Welcome Change Oakland Tribune March 29, 1893
  4. Oakland's Claim for Fame Oakland Tribune February 14, 1894
  5. Flies In the Punch Oakland Times April 30, 1894
  6. The Oakland, San Leandro, and Haywards Electric Railway in Trouble San Francisco Examiner July 1, 1895
  7. A Disastrous Accident on the Haywards Road Oakland Tribune May 20, 1896
  8. Quit the Express Business San Francisco Call February 26, 1896
  9. Successor to A.L. Stone Alameda Daily Encinal July 13, 1898
  10. Fifteen Minute Service Oakland Enquirer April 9, 1900
  11. Dark Nights No Longer Inspire Terror on the County Highway Oakland Times June 21, 1900
  12. Boilers Explode at Elmhurst Powerhouse Oakland Tribune November 4, 1901
  13. People View Wreckage That Marks Elmhurst Boiler Explosion and Relate Narrow Escapes From Death San Francisco Call November 5, 1901
  14. Haywards Electric Line Los Angeles Times July 25, 1901
  15. Oakland Transit Makes An Offer San Francisco Examiner July 27, 1901
  16. Haywards Line Sold To Transit Company Oakland Tribune July 31, 1901
  17. "Electric railway car with conductor and motorman" (C)001376977CSL01-Aleph California State Library
  18. Alameda County: The Eden of the Pacific Tribune Publishing Co: 1898
  19. No Combination Of the Electric Roads and the Southern Pacific Oakland Tribune January 2, 1891
  20. 00000460, No. 100 Motor 'Jumper' and Two Flat Cars with Wagons of the Oakland-San Leandro-Haywards Electric Railway San Leandro Historical Photo Archive
  21. BANC PIC 1905.17500.41:190--ALB Roy D. Graves Pictorial Collection, Bancroft Library, UC Berkeley
  22. William Gardiner transportation collection 1869-1951, Stanford Libraries
  23. The Western Railroader May 1958 (numerous photos)