A Railroad Comes to Town
By the 1870s, iron rails ran coast-to-coast, connecting more of the interior of the United States than ever before. Towns and cities now could flourish away from the coasts and waterways that had been Americas main transportation networks. Food and manufactured goods could be distributed nationally. Railroads created new social, political, and economic ties among people spread across thousands of miles. To many Americans, a railroad connection promised new prosperity and new opportunities.
In Santa Cruz, businessmen and politicians fought to bring a railroad to town, dreaming of a boom in industry that would make their city the equal of San Francisco. Many local people invested in the proposed Santa Cruz Railroad, and after years of politicking and financial maneuvers, a 15-mile line was completed in 1876. It connected Santa Cruz to the farming town of Watsonville, which was served by Californias principal railroad, the Southern Pacific.