On The Map: Bowles

On The Map: Originals

Today it’s called “social fundraising”. Back in the day, it was unheard of for a group of people to pool their resources and do something big like fight the railroad. That is exactly what happened and it changed forever who gets to say what is on the map.

A lot of these “On The Map” stories start off with “The Central Pacific established a community or Southern Pacific Railroad established a community”, and so on and so forth.

The problem is, the central and southern pacific railroad got together and formed a lease agreement in 1885, effectively creating a monopoly. That meant They could charge whatever high price they wanted to transport their good for sale, and the local farmers, they just didn’t like it.

In 1895, Claus Spreckles (as in the Spreckles Sugar Company) pledged $500,000 to build what would be called the San Francisco and San Joaquin Valley Railroad: IF three million additional dollars could be raised. It attracted a bunch of small investors and the 3 million dollar goal was reached. For that reason, this line was called “The People’s Railroad”.

It took a year for them to build the railway from Stockton to Hanford, and by 1898, it reached all the way down to Bakersfield. Local farmers were thrilled  that they didn’t have to live by the rules of the Southern Pacific Railroad anymore.

A number of communities were established along “The People’s Railroad” including this one whose name comes from one of the original pioneer families to settle in this area.

That family name is Bowles, on the map of Fresno County.

With Josh Dean behind the camera, I’m A.J. Fox.

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