Railroading to Southern California
Railroading to Southern California.

      Once the last spike had been driven in the transcontinental railroad, one could board a train and ride it all the way from Chicago to San Francisco. Actually the rails ended in Sacramento and folks bound for San Francisco had to board a steamboat there to make it the rest of the way to San Francisco (more on steamboats below). Ten years later, in 1879, Southern Pacific completed the first railroad from Oakland to Los Angeles, beating its competitors to Southern California by about six years. Immediately the railroad interests, who had acquired substantial land interests, started advertising Southern California as a unique place where people with health problems, particularly those of a respiratory nature, could come for a cure. Particularly notable in this effort was a book written by Charles Nordhoff in 1872, entitled, California: For Health, Pleasure and Residence. One early resident of Sierra Madre reports, "A large portion of the early residents came to Sierra Madre because they were victims of tuberculosis. Many who came early enough lived to a good age, but there were many ghostly victims in the last stages of the disease to be seen, not only on the streets of Sierra Madre, but in Los Angeles and on the Trains." Sarah Trussell was also having respiratory problems and it is likely that the Trussells came to Sierra Madre for similar reasons. The Trussells arrived by train in July 1881.

      One of these original steamboats, "the Delta Queen" (above) is still in operation on the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers. Listed among the country's National Historic, monuments, she has 87 state-rooms, teakwood handrails and polished Siamese ironwood floors. Trips can be arranged through the Delta Queen Steamboat Co. in New Orleans.