Thursday, January 6, 2011

Mayor Lachmund Accused of Conspiracy in 1911 Railroad Fracas

Mayor Louis Lachmund was not just the "hoppiest" mayor - he might have been the most colorful and contentious ever!

Here he is accused of conspiring with City Council to put a rival railroad company out of business. He also has a restraining order filed against him.

This controversy was a chapter in the competition between the Oregon Electric and the Red Electric lines (and wikipedia entries on the Oregon and Red Electrics).

Portland, Eugene & Eastern appears to have failed to gain a franchise in Salem; ultimately its successor, the Red Electric, was built on the west side, going Corvallis, Independence, Gerlinger, McCoy, and McMinnville.

The Oregon Electric is the line running through Ankeney Bottom, along south River Road, through the Boise property and Front Street, and thence to Keizer Station and prime hopland around Hopmere, Waconda, St. Louis, and the rest of French Prairie. (Here's a bunch of photos of the Oregon Electric.)

Information on Alvadore Welch of the "welch road" is not convenient online, but this citation may be useful. It appears to be another name for the Portland, Eugene & Eastern, which he had purchased and named.

The minutiae of rail lines can be baffling and train experts will have to fill in the details!

But anyone can marvel at the ruckus and chaos in Salem government from a century ago (September, 1911). Nowadays, instead of private ownership of railroads or toll roads, the roads are publicly owned. As inefficient as governments might be, the railroad robber barons, and the graft they created, were much, much worse.


Portland, Eugene & Eastern, the Welch Road, Charges Conspiracy Between the Oregon Electric, Hill and Mayor Lachmund to Put it Out of Business - Complaint Also Shows the Southern Pacific Herriman, is Mixed up With it in its Franchise - This is Exactly What the Journal Stated Some Days Ago, and What the Mayor so Insistently Denied
Charging that Louis Lachmund, as mayor of the city, and the Oregon Electric railroad and its agents and employes entered into a conspiracy to annul and deprive it of its franchise on Front street, and that the mayor and the agents and employes of the Oregon Electric have openly declared that unless the defendant will grant to the Oregon Electric the right to use its, the defendant's tracks on Front street, that they will tear up the track, the Portland, Eugene, and Eastern railroad, through its attorneys, Kaiser, Salter & Pogue, this afternoon filed a suit in the circuit court asking that the mayor and the employes of the Oregon Electric be restrained from interfering with the use of its tracks on Front street until its right with relation to them can be determined. Judge Galloway, after an examination of the complaint, granted a temporary restraining order, and it was served on the defendants by the sheriff this afternoon.

Battle on in Full

The suit as predicted in the Journal several days ago marks but the beginning of a batle to be waged between competing railroad lines for invading the valley and for franchises in the city. The prediction was made that back of the movement to have declared forfeited the franchise of the Welch line was the fine Italian hand of the Hill people and that is just what is alleged in the complaint. It was also asserted that the Welch line had entered into a traffic arrangement with the Southern Pacific on Front street, and this is admitted in the complaint filed, and it bears out the assertion that the real battle is between the two railroad giants, the Southern Pacific and the Hill lines.

Granted on One Condition

After alleging that the council granted the Portland & Eugene & Eastern Railroad company a franchise on Front street from Center to Ferry in 1910, it is alleged that it was granted on but one condition, and that was that the company should have in operation in the city over two miles of line, and this condition it is alleged the company has fulfilled. It is contended that the laying of track in advance of pavement, or the repair of tracks, are not conditions of the franchise, as it contains a clause that should the company fail to do this, the city should do it and charge it up to the company.

Purchased S. P. Track

It is then alleged that the Southern Pacific has a franchise on Center Front Street, but that it expires September 8, and that the Portland, Eugene & Eastern railroad in April purchased an interest in the track and agreed it should be used by the Southern Pacific. Since then the Oregon Electric was granted a franchise on the same street and on the same ground as one of the tracks owned by the Portland, Eugene & Eastern on Front street, it is alleged. It is further alleged that the Portland, Eugene & Eastern asked the council for turnouts and switches for its tracks but that the council refused to grant the request. The investment of the company in the city is alleged to be $70,000.

Influenced Council

For the purpose of contriving how they could wrong and injure the plaintiff and deprive it of vested rights, and from using its present track on Front street, Mayor Lachmund and the Oregon Electric and its agents and employees [employe/employee is not consistent] then entered into a conspiracy to wrongfully influence and persuade the council to annul the franchise of the company, it is alleged, and did so prevail upon the council to declare the franchise forfeited and to institute a suit for that purpose in the circuit court.

It is further alleged that the mayor and the agents of and employees of the Oregon Electric have openly declared that unless the plaintiff will grant the Oregon Electric the right to use its track on Front street that they will tear up the track, and with a view of restraining them from in any way interfering with the track, a restraining order is prayed for, and as has been said, was granted by Judge Galloway.

As the situation now stands, the Portland, Eugene & Eastern is restrained in a suit brought by the city from laying its track, and the city of Salem, and its mayor and the agents and employes of the Oregon Electric restrained from in any way interfering with the tracks of the Portland, Eugene & Eastern until the last filed is finally determined by the circuit court.

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