As those who responded to the photo reported, the photo indeed shows the Mossdale Y (See Page 25) on the east side of the San Joaquin River in 1925. That junction, which long connected U.S. Highway 50 and State Route 120, is now a maze of highway and railroad bridges and freeway grade separations.
But what of the name, Mossdale?
Raymond Hillman and Leonard Covello, in their book, “Cities and Towns of San Joaquin County,” give us the answer.
The location, where the depth of the San Joaquin River is shallow and the current slower than elsewhere, had been the site of ferries moving back and forth across the river since 1848. That was the year John Doak established a ferry using a boat made of tule elk hides stretched over a framework of willow poles.
Doak and his partner, Jacob Bonsell, operated the ferry until 1851, charging $3 for a man and a horse, $8 for a wagon and $1 for foot passengers.
In 1856, the ferry was purchased by William S. Moss, who operated it for decades. The ferry finally ceased operation in 1890 with the construction of an iron-truss highway bridge.
So there you have it. The crossing was named after the last operator of the ferry.
Moss, a native of Virginia, owned some 10,000 acres near the crossing. He also had a home in San Leandro and for a time owned the San Francisco Examiner.
He sold the Examiner to George Hearst, who turned the paper over to his son, William Randolph Hearst, and that started the largest media empire of the early 20th century.
Several new bits of useful information on the exact elevation of Tracy have arrived and need to be added to the earlier reports.
Jeff Pribyl, a native of Tracy and a San Francisco architect, looked into the original elevation benchmarks that railroad survey teams left on points along the tracks extending from Oakland (through Tracy) in 1914-16.
At Tracy, the first generation of benchmarks were located at the base of two water tanks in the Tracy Southern Pacific yard, one where Central Avenue now crosses the tracks and another to the west near where C Street once crossed. Records show an elevation of 62.6 feet near the easterly location and 62.3 feet near the former C Street.
Those readings correspond closely to the original railroad elevation figure of 61 feet.
Jeff also reported that at the east abutment of the 11th Street overpass, the elevation is listed at 61.2 feet. Farther east, about halfway between Chrisman and Banta roads, it is given at 37.73 feet.
And finally, Tracyite Steve Riddle used the GPS on his car to check elevations. Near Raley’s in south Tracy, it hit 70 feet, and at Schulte Road and Tracy Boulevard, it is 67 feet. Those readings seem to be on target, but a reading of 29 feet at the water tower at Sixth and Tracy Boulevard seems low. The GPS must have had a hiccup.
I’ll settle for 61 feet as Tracy’s basic elevation and let it go at that.
• Sam Matthews, Tracy Press publisher emeritus, can be reached at 830-4234 or by e-mail at email@example.com.