Eastern District

Ontario & San Antonio Heights Railway Company

Posted on: February 5, 2013 by Pacific Electric 5 Comments
Steve Crise Collection

Steve Crise Collection

An engraving showing the Ontario & San Antonio Heights Railway Company from the foot of the line, in Ontario, looking north to Upland and Mount Baldy.

From the indispensable ERHA Site:

The line began operating with mule cars in 1887, a mule hauling the little single-truck car from State St.(Ontario) due north to San Antonio Heights, about ten miles north and 1200 feet higher; on the return trip the motive power climbed aboard a tiny trailer and coasted down with the car. When O&SA electrified the line in 1895, the mules became the property of a nearby rancher; the story goes that the temperamental animals pulled the plough fine uphill, but refused to work downhill.

A thirty-acre amusement park was built by the company of San Antonio Heights, with a powerhouse adjoining. Heavy crowds were transported along Euclid Ave. in the early days, for the line connected Ontario with Upland, provided connections between the SP Station at Ontario and the Santa Fe Station at Upland, and cared for the thongs bound for pleasure-seeking at the Park. Euclid Ave. was famous for it divided highway; in the wide center strip was a double line of huge pepper trees, and between the rows of trees, set a grass-covered private way, went the single track of this line.

Owned after electrification by Ontario Electric Company, the line became the property of the Pacific Light & Power Corporation. in a merger in 1908. Mr. William G. Kerckhoff, at that time president of PL&P, energetically pushed the expansion of the O&SA by building its branch to San Bernardino. However, the O&SA was purchased by SP on 13 April 1912 and this line, plus the line from Upland to Pomona, passed into PE hands.

Steve Crise Collection

5 Responses

  1. Bob Davis

    February 5, 2013

    The station at San Antonio Heights is now the centerpiece of an historic display area, and the shell of the Stone Castle hydro-electric plant still stands a few blocks east, covered with vines like a “set” for an adventure movie. A replica mule car and a fiberglass mule are on display in a shelter in downtown Ontario. After passenger service quit around 1928, the track was gradually cut back until the last mile or so was salvaged by Orange Empire volunteer track workers in 1975-76

    Reply
  2. Steve Crise

    February 5, 2013

    Thanks Bob! I’ve seen pictures of the O&SAHRR car barn that was supposed to be just south of present day Holt Blvd. Any thoughts on the location of the car barn?

    Reply
  3. Ralph Cantos

    February 6, 2013

    has anyone taken a recent photo of the STONE CASTLE ELECTRIC PLANT. I for one , would love to see what it looks like today

    Reply
    • Jeff

      August 13, 2017

      Just took one today. It looks the same as it has for years.

      Reply
  4. Patrick JACOBS

    January 23, 2016

    Dear Sirs,

    The story of the Ontario – Orange Alley mule tramway has been often published, e.g. in “Scientific American” january 25, 1890:
    https://archive.org/stream/scientific-american-1890-01-25/scientific-american-v62-n04-1890-01-25#page/n8/mode/1up

    … and even in France in the same year:
    http://cnum.cnam.fr/CGI/fpage.cgi?4KY28.34/216/100/432/0/0
    This one is under copyright, but others (with illustration) are in the public domain, e.g. in “La Science Fran├žaise”.

    Did you know that?

    Funny story!

    Best regards
    Patrick JACOBS
    (French railfan living in Germany)

    Reply

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