Manteca’s seventh Mural in a Weekend project will portray the final link of the Transcontinental Railroad being completed at the nearby Mossdale Crossing on Sept. 8, 1869.
The Manteca Mural Society is looking for volunteers of all skill levels to help paint the mural on the east facing wall of The Spin Cycle, 161 Yosemite Ave., on the Manteca Pumpkin Fair weekend Saturday-Sunday, Oct. 6-7 from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. both days.
For more information and to sign-up visit www.MantecaMurals.com or call Gayl Wilson at (209) 825-4700 or email her at Gayl@MantecaHomes.com.
The design is by muralist Dave Gordon.
The final link in the 1,800-mile transcontinental railroad was not at the much-celebrated meeting of the Union Pacific and Central Pacific on May 10, 1869 at Promontory, Utah where the track building efforts met each other. It was at Mossdale Crossing on the San Joaquin River.
Building the last link of the Transcontinental Railroad simultaneously started from the Bay Area and Sacramento and met at the San Joaquin River. The first train crossed the bridge on Sept. 8, 1869.
For several months in 1869, a passenger would board a train in New York City and travel west until they reached Mossdale. At that point, they would unload their luggage, cross the river by ferry, and board another train on the other side of the river before the trestle was completed.
The brass plaque depicting that historic event — California Registered Historical Landmark No. 780-7 — has since been stolen from the stone monument on the north side of Mossdale Crossing along Manthey Road.
The Transcontinental Railroad had been talked about for 30 years before it was actually started. The original plans called for a route from the Missouri River to Oregon. Later plans favored the southern route through Texas, New Mexico and Arizona to Southern California. It was cheaper and easier than going through the Sierra mountains. But, as the Southern Congressmen and Senators left to form the Confederate States of America that meant that the only legislators voting on the bills for the railroad were the Northerners. They did not want to put this key national link in the South. So the “Central Route” was chosen from Omaha to San Francisco.
The country was in the midst of a civil war when the work on the Transcontinental Railway was started in 1862. It was a tremendous undertaking. There were no heavy machines to do the work. All of the work across the deserts and through the mountains was done by hand, with only the help of wheelbarrows and horse or mule wagons. They did not even have the technology of dynamite but used black powder packed into hand drilled holes in the stones to blast their way through.
Finding labor was difficult since there was a civil war in progress. At that time many Chinese were escaping from terror and poverty in their country. They made a perfect work force for the railroad. Even though they were small, they were very capable workers. All workers were originally paid $30 per month and given food and lodging. But the Chinese were paid an extra $1 a month to cook their own food given they did not like American fare. There were also Irish immigrants and blacks escaping the aftermath of the Civil War as well as soldiers for the north and the south after war.
The iron rails, railcars and engines had to be shipped around South America to San Francisco then loaded onto ships to Sacramento which took months. The equipment, hundreds of barrels of black powder each month, nitroglycerin, food, and other supplies all were part of the logistical web that needed to be untangled.
Previous Mural in the Weekend murals include “Pitching Pumpkins”, “Manteca Snow”, “The Family Center”, “Our Bountiful Valley”, “Free for All” and “Cow-munity.” That is in addition to two murals painted exclusively by children that adorn the outside walls of the Library Park restroom building.
Manteca is nearing 40 murals overall.