COMPILED BY THE LATE CLAYTON GUEST
This collection consists of a large number of original and copied photographs, nearly all of the public timetables and brochures ever published, 40% of all employee timetables, passes, numerous versions of employee and public issued tickets, menus, advertisements, regulations and rule books, company forms, correspondence, and miscellaneous related papers.
Also in the collection are materials related to the companies that depended on the railroad line, including Yosemite ( Sugar Pine) Lumber, Yosemite Terminal , Yosemite Portland Cement, Yosemite Transportation (Stoddard Stages), National Lead Company, and a host of mining organizations in the Merced River Canyon.
The bulk of the collection was purchased at antique, postcard, ephemera or railroad shows, as well as “horse trading” with other railroad collectors. Not to be overlooked are many universities, museums, and libraries across the country as well as Federal and State archives which have been an invaluable source of information. Also, several relatives of YVRR employees have contributed to the collection. This valuable compilation of Merced and Mariposa history will be permanently housed in the Mariposa Museum and History Center archival vault and made available for educational uses.
Mr. Guests Yosemite Valley Railroad history website is being maintained by his family and can be viewed at yosemitevalley railroad.com.
By Ron Loya
The Yosemite Valley Railroad began to operate an 87 mile route from the city of Merced to the town of El Portal in 1907. Until that time, getting to the mining towns and districts of Mariposa County as well as to the newly designated Yosemite National Park was a long and arduous journey on windy, dusty roads by horseback, wagon or buggy.
Even though the train service made such a trip faster and easier, the $18.50 cost of a ticket was most times, out of reach for all but the very well off. While the original intent of the line had been to provide passenger service to the Park, the Yosemite Valley Railroad Company was quick to encourage the growth of freight traffic. In a short period of time the company developed a significant amount of business in transporting logged timber to mills, as well as mined limestone, barium, cement aggregate and other minerals, including low grade gold ore from high country locations to the San Joaquin valley. On the trip into the mountains from the San Joaquin Valley, heavy machinery needed for hard rock mining and milling could now be offloaded closer to the mines.
With the opening of the All Year Highway to Yosemite in 1926, and the increasing use of diesel trucks to deliver lumber to mills in the San Joaquin Valley, the railway’s fate seemed to be sealed and train use began to decline in the Merced River Valley. By 1945 the railroad had become a relic of history as all passenger and freight runs permanently ceased.