They were right on target to ask, because the Mossdale railroad bridge, which still stands today, has a unique place in the history of the transcontinental railroad.
As the late Earle Williams, the longtime Tracy historian, mentioned on numerous occasions when talking about local railroad history, the Mossdale bridge — and not the golden spike at Promontory Point, Utah — was the last link of the transcontinental railroad.
The year was 1869, and the golden spike that connected the Union Pacific from the east and the Central Pacific from the west was driven May 10 by Leland Stanford, president of the Central Pacific.
Meanwhile, construction of the Mossdale bridge over the San Joaquin River was under way. For several months, passengers heading to San Francisco got off a train on the east side of the river and crossed on a ferry to a waiting train headed across the Altamont Pass to Niles and the Alameda Ferry slip, the last leg to San Francisco.
Finally, on Sept. 8, 1869, the Mossdale bridge was put into use, and the first real transcontinental train passed over it to complete the rail link to both coasts.
Of course, in 1869, Tracy was not yet a reality, and the westbound trains stopped at the coaling station of Ellis, some 3 miles west of what eventually became Tracy, to add engines for the push over the Altamont Hills.
The Johnson City Kid
Also last week, I mentioned two grandsons of Tracyites who were drafted by Major League Baseball teams and are playing on farm teams.
And now there’s a third. He’s Steven Ramos, who was drafted in the 22nd round of the 2010 draft by the St. Louis Cardinals. The former Ahlone College standout is now playing center field with the Johnson City Cardinals of the Appalachian League.
At Johnson City, Steven is doing very well, indeed. He leads the Appalachian League with runs (24) and stolen bases (12) and is batting .377.
He told Trey Williams, sports editor of the Johnson City Press, that he likes the area.
“I grew up in a country town,” he said. “This is kind of like home. The accent’s the only thing different.”
Steven is the grandson of Kathleen “Cookie” Toledo, a lifetime resident of Tracy, and he’s the son of Manuel and Chris Ramos, also native Tracyites.
I don’t believe Tracy ever has had a native playing in the major leagues, but one of these guys could make it to “the bigs.” We’ll keep track.
• Sam Matthews, Tracy Press publisher emeritus, can be reached at 830-4234 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.