Southern Pacific – Belmont Underpass

Art - Southern Pacific logo

You hear these rumors and wonder if it’s true. Progress has its place, but I heard that the Belmont underpass is going to be taken out for the expansion of the tracks and line for the Union railroad’s High Speed Rail corridor. Another business owner had told me about his having to move from his location south of Fresno, in the area of Van Ness and Railroad. And it was in the Fresno Bee about the Olive Avenue and Weber proposed new overpass construction.
SP Belmont overpass East side rail East side rail, looking toward Roading Park.

SP Cropped of SP Belmont underpass -west sideWest side rail SP logo closeup – from pedestrian walkway.

If the Belmont underpass was in the Bee, sometime back, I missed it. It was appalling enough to notice several months [years?] ago, that the beautiful enameled, or ceramic, Southern Pacific logo spray painted with graffiti. It may have been cleaned once, but soon re-graffiti appeared, and on the east side rail also.
The High Speed Rail construction is progressing and it is interesting that it has a beginning locally at the Madera County, Avenue 12 location of Southern Pacific Railroad’s Borden Station. There is a history there, which is going to have to be a different posting.
I am not a particularly crazy-about-railroad type of guy, but I do have a nostalgic thing for a past time, and the past images. There was another thing about how I felt about the Union Railroad taking over the Southern Pacific. But, that is another issue too, and another piece later.
Timothy J. Desmond

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Where is Mudford?

Mudford is the town in two novels, “For Thou Art With Me” [1966], and “The Doc” [2010].

Mudford had come to be a place in California. We all know that many of the successful places sprang up and thrived because of the railroads.  But that doesn’t explain why places along the railroads like Borden, Trigo, Minturn, Berenda, Fig Garden, have ceased to be. Some of these were on the Southern Pacific line. Some were on the Santa Fe line. Southern Pacific is now Union Pacific. Santa Fe is now Burlington Northern Santa Fe or BNSF. It is an irony that these too lines, once “southern in origin” now have “northern” and “Union” names. It is known that if the railroad did not put in a station that would be the end for a place.  But, even then some of those places just didn’t become a place later, even if the railroad had a stop there initally.

A hundred years ago, this was the last place trekked upon by settlers in this valley.  Roads were built on the east side that ran along the Mother Lode region.  Roads were built along the west side that accessed the passes to the coast. The main way to get goods from Stockton to Millerton was on riverboats on the San Joaquin River. Firebaugh’s Ferry was a good crossing of the San Joaquin and the Butterfield coach line. But, here along this small river, the Chowchilla, spring floods left the ground very soggy with mud.  When some people began to cross this Chowchilla river, it was a muddy ford and that stuck too. Then the railroad came and the name Muddy Ford seemed just fine for everyone.  That was fine until the appearance of the well known Model T Ford automobile.  About the same time a newspaper editor ridiculed the name, related it to the muddy Ford automobile story and stated that the name was neither as manly as Gravelly Ford, on the San Joaquin River, nor was it as poetic as Firebaugh’s Ferry. 

This prompted the town leaders to change the name to many variations from Mud Ferry, Soggy Sod Crossing to Lux Landing. Lux Landing from Miller and Lux company and owner of much land near and far. At last they settled on Mudford, one word.  That seemed to please the town founders, many of whom were still living at the time, and also pleased any critics of the old name. The Doc novel available in the Kindle store at