Railroads

An ox cart

An ox cart

In the rich soil the farmers grew grain, fruit, and other produce. People in San Francisco had gold to buy the food they needed from the farmers in Tulare County. The farmers had to take the food to San Francisco to sell it.

On a good road a horse or an ox could pull a wagon from Tulare County to San Francisco in about 12 days. But there were no good roads. It would take more than a month for a wagon to make the trip. A wagon could not carry enough food to feed the people and animals plus any food to sell. After that, the wagon would take another month to return! The farmers needed a better way to take their produce to market.

A train crosses a bridge in the San Joaquin Valley

A train crosses a bridge in the San Joaquin Valley

A new railroad was built in California that went from San Francisco south. In 1872 it reached Tulare County and stopped in Goshen, outside of Visalia. The farmers rejoiced! Now they carried their crops to the railroad on wagons, and loaded them into large rail cars. The trains carried their produce to the stores in San Francisco. There were no cars or trucks — they were not invented for another 30 years.

It cost a lot of money to send produce to San Francisco on the railroads. Sometimes the railroads raised their rates so that it cost more to send the crops than the farmer made. The farmers grew angry. They fought against the railroads. In 1880, at Mussel Slough in Tulare County, farmers and railroad men fought. Seven people were killed.