This month’s History Mystery is submitted by George Raymond, Historian, E Clampus Vitus Chapter 41-49
Subject: Southern Pacific Railroad – Berenda Branch
Do any of the readers have or know how to obtain a map showing the route of the Berenda Branch of the Southern Pacific Railroad? It ran from Berenda to Daulton to Raymond.
Over time this stretch of railroad has been referred to as the:
- Yosemite branch railroad to Raymond
- Berenda branch
- Raymond branch
Later Southern Pacific records show that it was in the Merced Subdivision (Lathrop to Fresno) of the Western Division, of the Southern Pacific Railroad.
“Incorporated February 15, 1886, by the Southern Pacific Company. This twenty-one mile road from Berenda to Raymond, California, was constructed in 1886 and was operated by the Southern Pacific until it was consolidated with the Southern Pacific Railroad on May 14, 1888. Known as the Raymond Branch, the track east of Daulton was abandoned in 1942, and the balance of 10.43 miles between Berenda and Daulton was abandoned in 1956.
“The line to Raymond paralleled the Fresno River and the flume of the Madera Sugar Pine Lumber Company.
“For a space of twenty years before the Yosemite Valley Railroad was built up the canyon of the Merced River visitors to the Yosemite Valley reached the scenic wonderland by the southern route served by the Southern Pacific’s branch line to Raymond. In 1887 the rail line was opened from Berenda, near Madera to the foothill town of Raymond where the stage coach route lead through Wawona and into the Yosemite Valley.”
A Century of Southern Pacific Steam Locomotives, by Guy Dunscomb
The Western Railroader, January 1972, Volume 35 Number 1
Southern Pacific Depots in California, by Stephen M. Hayes
UPDATE: The North Fork History Group found information and a map of the Berenda to Raymond SP branch in their archives. This was in the form of a Calendar published by the Jay Chapel Funeral Home in December 1999. The subject matter of the calendar was History of Madera County Trains.