Tigers and trains

June Horlador Bond writes:

“Both my sisters attended Stockton College and COP in the late ’40s and early ’50s.  Just beginning elementary school, I remember attending the football games with great excitement; new stadium, crowds, exciting football teams, sitting in the the Tommie Tiger section, seeing the live tiger, walking straight-up steep stairs to get into the stadium, etc.   

“I have been reading the recent articles on the demolition of the stadium and noticed that none of them have mentioned the train tracks that ran along the north side of the stadium.  As a child, I loved watching the opposing team rooters get off train cars that pulled right to the back of the stadium; seeing the Fresno State bulldog get off the train was a real highlight for me!  Since there has not been any mention of the trains arriving at the stadium, I began to wonder if it was a dream or just inaccurate memory.
“I recently spoke with Mr. Eddie Macon to tell him about the ESPN feature “51 Dons”. Mr. Macon is mentioned and a picture of the stadium is shown.  It was a touching conversation as he vividly remembered details of the game and then got teary-eyed.  During the conversation, he said. “There must have been 8 trains that came from San Francisco!”  So, it wasn’t a dream!!
“Is there information on those tracks; how and where did they connect to the “main” tracks so rooters could arrive at the back of the stadium?”

I remember the Western Pacific spur running along the north side of the stadium. As a young man I saw their trains — or an engine, at least, usually pulling a boxcar or two – using the tracks every day. I did not know about trainloads of fans. That’s wonderful trivia. 

The tracks used to come up through midtown, cross a swing bridge over Smith Canal and follow the south bank of the Calaveras River to the east, where the railroad apparently serviced some industrial sites. The old right of way still cuts through town and is probably visible on Google Earth. Going the other way, it dropped south through town to the main yards. I am contacting local archives to see if one has a picture.

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    Michael Fitzgerald

    Mike Fitzgerald is The Record’s award-winning metro columnist. His column runs in the paper three times a week. Born in San Francisco, he was raised in Stockton. His column covers diverse beats including, sometimes, the offbeat. Read Full
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