The Traveler
The Newsletter of the Lincoln Highway Association - California Chapter

Summer 2000


Roadside History

by Wes Hammond

On your next Sunday drive (or weekday ride), plan to visit a historical location or interesting spot. These sites will normally be located near the Lincoln Highway (U.S. 40/U.S. 50).

Mossdale Crossing County Park
Lathrop, California

With the driving of the gold spike at Promontory Point, Utah in May 1869, the Central Pacific and Union Pacific railroads completed the transcontinental railroad between Sacramento and Omaha, Nebraska. However, passengers, baggage, and freight still had to use riverboats to move between Sacramento and the San Francisco Bay Area. It was not a true transcontinental railroad.

A plan was put into effect to complete rail travel to the Bay Area. The San Francisco Bay Railroad Company completed a line south from Oakland to Niles (now part of Fremont) in August 1868. That same year, the Western Pacific Railroad (not the same as the later Western Pacific of 1909) completed a line north from San Jose to Niles. In 1868, the Western Railroad commenced building a line east from Niles and south from Sacramento. In early 1869, the Western Pacific and San Francisco Bay railroads were absorbed into the Central Pacific Railroad.

The line being built east and the line being built west met at Mossdale on the San Joaquin River in August 1869. The bridge built over the river at this point completed the railroad. On September 8, 1869, the first train crossed the bridge.

Directions to Mossdale Crossing County Park

This park is adjacent or very near to the original Lincoln Highway.

From I-5 northbound:

  • Take the Mossdale Rd off-ramp.
  • Turn right on Mossdale Rd. Proceed about 100 yards.
  • Turn right and go under I-5 (sign reads, "To I-5 South, To I-205").
  • Turn right at Manthey Rd. Proceed to the park, which will be on the left.

From I-5 southbound:

  • Take the Louise Ave off-ramp (sign also reads, "To Mossdale Crossing County Park")
  • Turn right to Manthey Rd.
  • Turn left, and proceed 1.7 miles to park.

There are two historical markers, and picnic tables are available.

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