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From: "Vera Reeves" <>
Subject: [ARIZARD-L] Mussel Slough Tragedy
Date: Wed, 7 Nov 2001 08:56:51 -0700
References: <>

The Mussel Slough Tragedy
In the long series of tragedies in Tulare County, that of Mussel Slough,
which occurred at a point approximately four and on-half miles northwest of
Hanford, then in Tulare County, on May 11, 1880, stands out as one of the
darkest blots on the county's history. The controversy between teh settlers
of the Mussel Slough district and the Southern Pacific Company over the
tenure and price of lands granted by Congress on July 26, 1866, to the
railway company to aid in the construction of railroads, is an incident
well-known in the annals of California.

By the Act of Congress the Southern Pacific Company was granted the odd
numbered sections of land, checker-boarded, for twenty miles on each side of
the proposed line through California. In 1867 the railway company filed maps
preparatory to proceeding with the work, but no actual construction wast
started until the time in which certain work had to be completed had almost
elapsed. There had been much vacillation on the part of the Land Department,
the railway companies, claiming the grant during the period intervening
between the making of the grant and the time of actual construction, with
the result that the settlers were not sure whether they were occupying
railroad land or property to which they were entitled. These new residents
developed the district into rich productive agricultural lands, introducing
a successful irrigation system, and greatly increasing the value of the
lands through their tireless efforts.
After the construction of the railroad, the price of land for the sections
claimed by the railroad company was fixed by hired railroad graders, who, in
their effort to please their employers, put an excessive valuation, though,
in pamphlets previously issued by the company inviting settlers to locate
upon the land, a price consistent with the government price of $2.50 an acre
was promised, all buildings and other improvements not to be considered by
the land grader.
The settlers hotly contested the high rates imposed and also the railroad's
title to the land.
The story of ensuing events is related by J. J. Doyle, one of the leading
settlers of the Mussel SLough country, to whom the settlers later entrusted
all actions taken to protect their rights.
[The chapter concludes with the complete 3-page Doyle account from the
Menefee, History of Tulare and Kings Counties, which has already been

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