Anaheim’s ARTIC (Anaheim Regional Transportation Intermodal Center), known as California’s first high-speed rail station, never got its huzza. It’s an expensive transportation hub, but its creation had seemed a worthy venture. According to The Orange County Register, ARTIC was expected to generate 10,000 passengers a day when it opened in late 2014. It only generates 2,000 on weekdays.
A bullet train isn’t expected to pass through ARTIC until 2029, and there is concern that the train won’t be the money maker it is estimated to be. With estimates about ridership via ARTIC so off, the fight against the bullet train has continued on. A high speed rail line could cost up to $68 billion, and there are those who think that money would be better off spent elsewhere.
California has a long history of building railroads and trains. The difference between building railroads now and building them in the 1800s is that back then everyone wanted trains and railroads built. Their necessity was a given as part of public transportation. When the transcontinental railroad was finished, effectively linking California with the East coast for the first time, there was a celebration. The project was completed in 1868 with a golden spike connecting the last of the rails. It took years of hard, manual labor to complete the project.
A song called “Huzza for the Railroad” was written about the ambitious railroad project in 1856:
The cars will soon be on the track,
the locomotive screaming;
Across the continent and back, the trains
will soon be steaming;
With Fremont as our engineer; and Dayton by his side,
We’ll jump into the railroad cars and all take a ride.
Huzza for the railroad, huzza for the railroad,
The great Pacific Railroad on which we all will ride.
One of the wonderful things about used bookstores is that they hold gems such as “Oh, California.” 90’s kids who grew up in California will instantly recognize the cover as being from their elementary school social studies class. It has a picture of a red carriage in the middle and a black bandanna off to the side. Just from looking at the cover, it’s clear this children’s textbook about California is going to have something to say about transportation. That textbook is where all of the information about the transcontinental railroad has come from for this article.
A child’s history book, with a copyright date of 1991, shows the creation of the railroad as the beginning of the end of the covered wagon. Railroads and trains were a public transportation dream come true. Our view of the rail system, and its usefulness as public transportation, has changed much in just 150 years.