Rapid Transit, Circa 1872

“QUICK TIME—THROUGH BY STAGE FROM SAN FRANCISCO TO SAN DIEGO IN LESS THAN THREE DAYS,” was the headline on an item in the “Local Intelligence” column of the San Diego Union on September 26, 1872.

The local agent for the San Diego and Los Angeles stage line told the Union that, by authority of Mr. Seeley, who co-owned the stage line with Mr. Wright, “the time between this city and Los Angeles would be reduced to 23 hours” as of that date: “By the new arrangement the stages will leave San Diego for Los Angeles at 11 am, arriving at the latter city the following day at 10 am. Returning the stages will leave Los Angeles at 2 pm, and will arrive here at 1 pm the day after.”

I haven’t looked very deeply into how punctual the stage lines were, so I can’t say how closely they were able to keep to that 23-hour trip schedule. There’s a bit more obvious a contradiction in the paragraph that follows as far as characterizing the itinerary as being totally “by stage.”

Regarding the Los Angeles to San Fran leg of the trip, the article states that upon reaching LA, San Diego passengers would transfer to “the Telegraph stage line, which connects at Tipton–the present terminus of the S. P. R. R. [Southern Pacific Railroad]—with the cars [railroad cars, that is]. The latter line, together with the cars, carry the passenger through in 48 hours from Los Angeles to San Francisco.”

Maybe it was the paper’s reporter or editors who slipped up. But the article did accurately conclude that this route “”makes the traveling time between the cities of San Francisco and San Diego less than by steamer.” [The travel time by ship then was twelve days with stops.]

So it was faster, and with another advantage, according to the article: “Persons with a constitutional objection to seasickness will now look with more favor on the land route….”

Sources for this post included historic San Diego newspapers and the book, City of San Diego and San Diego County: The Birthplace of California, by Clarence Alan McGrew, published in 1922.

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