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Why Build a Railroad to Avila? - Andrew Merriam
Railroad Museum
San Luis Obispo, CA
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Why Build a Railroad to Avila? - Andrew Merriam
Tuesday July 11  2017 10am - 12 noon

Railroad Museum,  San Luis Obispo

Urban planner and museum restorer Andrew Merriam will tell you great stories about how the emerging technologies of the 19th Century-- the railroad and steamship -- helped bring the San Luis Obispo area into a closer social, economic and cultural relationship with the rest of California.

The presentation will cover how John Harford, a local community leader, initiated the concept of a railroad connecting the Countys interior to a pier at the Countys best harbor  Avila.  The process included the construction of a 3 narrow gauge railroad connecting the City of San Luis Obispo to a new pier where Port San Luis is today.

In the 1870's, San Luis Obispo County was relatively isolated.  Stagecoaches handled passengers. Horse drawn freight wagons or cattle drives exported local produce. Ships moved goods and people, but shipping required a safe system of piers and improved harbors.  This was an obvious lack in the County during the post-Civil War era.   Improved transportation was critically needed to grow a county that had  only a few thousand people at that time. By creating a rail/marine connection, the local population could import goods needed for growth and export produce and products to support and pay for their emerging lifestyle.  And this new transportation system allowed safer and faster connections throughout California.

Please feel free to arrive at 9:30 a.m. for this course if you would like to tour the Railroad Museum before the class begins

Andrew Merriam always had an interest in ships and trains. His graduation from San Luis Obispo High School in 1959 was followed by Architectural and Urban Planning degrees from Cal Poly and Columbia University in New York City. History is an obsession. He has written articles and prepared historic structures reports/evaluations for CalTrans and local agencies.  His resume includes the restorations of the Point San Luis Light Station and the local Railroad Museum.

If you would like to have the password for the member price for this course, go to www.lifelearnerscc.org for information on how you can become a member.


Railroad Museum (View)
1940 Santa Barbara Avenue
San Luis Obispo, CA 93401
United States



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