- The Petaluma and Santa Rosa Railroad began laying track in April, 1904. The first car into Sebastopol carried cement and crushed rock for the floor of the new powerhouse then under construction.
- The P&SR was a juice line, so-called because it ran on electrical power not because it carried apple juice as cargo.
- The P&SR's first four passenger cars Nos. 51, 53, 55 and 57 were named Petaluma, Santa Rosa, Sebastopol and Woodworth respectively. They cost about $6,000 each and were built by the American Car Company of St. Louis, Missouri.
- Original P&SR passenger cars were painted brown. Management decided to paint them white which confused motorists into thinking they were chicken houses. So the cars were painted yellow with red trim for the third time.
- The P&SR system included the ferryboats out of Petaluma. The first Steamer Gold built in 1883 by a San Francisco company, burned in 1920 at Petaluma long with the wharf, warehouse and 12 boxcars.
- In 1914, the P&SR made 12 round trips daily from Petaluma to Sebastopol, 19 trips from Sebastopol to Santa Rosa and 16 trips from Sebastopol to Forestville.
- The P&SR's last ferryboat, the paddle wheel steamer, Petaluma II, made her last trip August 24, 1950.
- P&SR ridership peaked at 757,759 in 1914. The P&SR dropped passenger service in 1932 when riders had dwindled to 53,586.
- The P&SR was one of the slowest interurban trains in the West with speeds averaging 18 mph.
- Sebastopol's P&SR Depot built in 1917, currently the West County Museum, was designed by Brainerd Jones, the Petaluma architect who also designed Sebastopol's Carnegie library (demolished in the 1970s.
Press Democrat, 1905
Even Luther Burbank got into the act using the P&SR services to promote the railroad and his work.
Distinguished Men To Call On Burbank
William H. Crocker, millionaire and president of the Crocker-Woolworth National Bank of San Francisco, Will S. Tevis, millionaire, United States Judge W.W. Morrow of the Circuit Court, and Edgar Sartus, writer and scientist are expected today to visit Luther Burbank and be guests on a trolley party of Director Frank A. Brush of the Petaluma and Santa Rosa Railway.
According to the present plan, Burbank will accompany Mr. Brush to Petaluma this morning on a special car and they will meet the visitors. A run will be made to the Burbank experimental grounds in Sebastopol which grounds will be inspected. The party will then come to this city to visit Burbank's home on Santa Rosa Avenue.
Sebastopol Times: July 7, 1906
C. Wightman and his son-in-law, F.B. Norton and nephew, Wight Norton, had a miraculous escape from a horrible death last Wednesday July 4th. While driving up Main Street, their buggy was struck by a northbound electric car, turned over and the occupants thrown to the street. The horse was also knocked down.
Fortunately, all escaped with a severe shaking up. Mr. Wightman was driving along close to the track and attempted to pull out when
he heard the car approaching them from the rear. But before he could get the vehicle clear the car struck him.
Sebastopol Times, January 7, 1907
The P&SR was very marketing minded from the start. They ran excursion trains to promote ridership.
The balloon ascension on Thursday afternoon was a very successful affair and several 1000 people witnessed the ascent and descent of Captain Callaghan, an old time aeronaut. At about 2,000 feet the drop was made. The parachute opened and Callaghan descended with perfect ease landing about 500 yards east of the lagoon. Everybody was pleased with the exhibition.
The electric railroad company had to run many extra cars to accommodate the 1000s of people who came from all parts of the County to witness the balloon ascension.
People had a difficult time adjusting to the railroad being in the roadways where they drove their horse and buggies.
The people of Sebastopol were worked up to a high pitch of excitement last Monday morning. The cause of the disturbance was a terrific blaze in Chinatown, which while it lasted, roared like a seething tempest.
About 7:15 o¹clock Willie Palmer while passing by what is known as new Chinatown, discovered clouds of smoke coming through the roof of one of the houses. He immediately applied the whip and spurs to the steed he was riding and, like Paul Revere, rode through town with hurricane speed, spreading the alarm as he passed. Someone rang the school bell and a few seconds later men, women and children rushed frantically from their homes and places of business. The race towards the scene of the conflagration was of the nature of a steeple chase, some clearing high fences with a single bound, while other feet hammered he middle of the street. Chief Palmer of the local fire department, although he made a poor start, finished with the leading sprinters and was one of the first to reach the blaze.
In less than ten minutes after the fire started it was evident that
the two rows of buildings were doomed to total destruction. A strong
north wind was flowing and sheets of flame fanned by the breeze, leaped
high in the air. The heat was so intense that no one could approach near
the burning structures. It was a difficult task to save other property from the fury of the wind and flames.
Someone suggested that the hood and
ladder truck be used and a search warrant was issued by Chief Palmer.
After the fire fiend had spent his fury the truck and a single ladder
were found in a vacant lot.
Had there been a breeze from the east,
it is safe to say that the entire town of Sebastopol would today be a
mass of charred ruins.
The fire originated in the house occupied
by Sang Tai. It is said that a Chinaman, while smoking opium in the
upper story of the building, upset a coal oil lamp and instead of
smothering the blaze with a blanket he fled from the scene in terror.
Although the alarm was turned in early it was utterly impossible to
subdue the flames owing to Sebastopol¹s woeful lack of fire fighting
facilities. The structures were all built of redwood and they burned
like tinder. About one hour after the fire started the buildings
composed a smoldering heap of ruins. Fifteen Houses including the Joss
house, were completely wiped out.
The buildings were occupied by
Sang Tai, Wing Hop, Wai Lee, Sing Wah, Hop Wah, Han Wah, Quong Wah, Hung
Chun, Hong Fat, Ling Fat, Wah Sing, Fe Kee, Chung Hi, Chung Chun and
The buildings belonged to Henry S. Barnes of this place
and were valued at about twenty-five hundred dollars. The reconstruction
of the houses is still a question of doubt.
At midnight Thursday, the local Chinamen ushered in their new year with all the pomp customary to the time. Firecrackers and bomb shells were exploded and the pow-wowing was deafening.
The white population turned out en masse Friday evening and all made a tour of Chinatown. The Mongolians were not very hospitable this year, as they claim that times are hard, but they give away such presents as they can afford.
Last Thursday evening, while the local Chinamen were having a
hilarious time, officer Woodward appeared in the celestial realms and
stirred up a little hornet¹s nest. The Mongolians charge that the
official demanded the sum of five dollars from each merchant for the
privilege of exploding firecrackers. The levy of a firecracker tax
being a novelty to the Chinese, they refused to comply with the order.
Lung and Ah Woy took the floor and engaged in a debate with Mr.
Woodward as to the legality of his demand. One word brought on another
and finally a fistic encounter was in order, the Chinamen coming out
second best. The following morning Ah Lung and Ah Woy looked as if they
had been run through the mill. They were ³heap very mad² and sword out a
warrant charging the officer with battery.
The case will come up before Judge Brown at Santa Rosa next Friday.
The oldest and most important of the Chinese newspapers, the Peking Gazette, dates from the eighth century. It is a kind of bulletin of laws and official organ, publishing the details relative to every movement and incident in the imperial court, as well as the officials and a record of the sittings of the tribunals. These communications are furnished to the Gazette¹s editor by the functionaries of the palace; they are set up with an infinite care and are printed only after having been revised and corrected very attentively. They are not published consequently till two or three days after having been communicated to the editor, who meanwhile keeps publishing a daily unofficial edition of the Gazette. The paper is sold in the streets of Peking by news vendors and criers. The subscription price of the official edition is about $4 a month, of the unofficial edition $3. There is a manuscript edition which costs $3 monthly.
Outside of the capital the first Chinese paper published appeared at
Shanghai about 30 years ago. It was soon followed by the Tien-tsin
Journal and the Canton Journal. These newspapers were founded by
Europeans, who were in fact, only nominally in charge, the real
inspirators and editors of those independent sheets being literati,
mandarins anxious to place themselves beyond the reach of imperial
persecutions. There are indeed no restrictive laws against the press in
China, but neither are there laws guaranteeing the freedom of writing
and speaking, so that Chinese journalists are always at the mercy of the
The Shanghai News, which is the type of Chinese
independent papers, is sold for 1 cent a number. It contains an
editorial similar to a magazine article, well studied, well written and
treating of political and social questions. Official decrees are
published in the columns of The News, as well as local information,
cable dispatches and sporting reports, for there are horse races at
Shanghai. The regular reporters are able and intelligent; they disguise
themselves in order not to be recognized as belonging to The News corps.
But they have not yet come to the practice of interviewing.
French Jesuit missionaries have founded a 1 cent newspaper, which was a
monthly at first and is now semiweekly. It is read by the Chinese
Catholics. There are also a few scientific and literary periodicals. It
must be noted that as a general rule the Chinese papers do not published
articles bearing on questions of actual and practical politics, so that
there are in the empire no opposition or semiofficial organs. They
usually are satisfied with publishing an eclectic review of affairs.
They are read in the most faraway provinces. The Shanghai News
circulation is about 15,000 daily numbers, and that of the Canton
Gazette amounts to 3,000 numbers. Since 1885 The Shanghai
published an illustrated weekly supplement, which is a very curious
specimen of Chinese art in that line. Besides those native papers in
Chinese there are some printed in English at Hongkong, a few in
Portuguese at Macao and one German paper at Shanghai. New York Tribune