Barry Eberling’s recent article, “Tale of Two Train Stations,” heralds the coming of Fairfield’s “first” rail station. But, contrary to local lore, the Peabody station will actually be our city’s second depot.
Sometimes archival research uncovers surprising facts. Recently, while digging through historical records for another purpose, I found accounts about Solano County’s first railroad – completed in 1868 and running from Vallejo to Sacramento. I also found frequent references to the railroad’s “Fairfield Station.”
For example, the Weekly Solano Herald of Oct. 17, 1868, describes a political rally in which the Fairfield Station played a prominent role.
Mass rallies occurred across California in the fall of 1868 – prompted by enthusiasm for the Republican presidential candidate Ulysses S. Grant. Even fledgling Suisun City drew a crowd of nearly 1,400 Grant supporters on the evening of Oct. 12. Some folks from nearby Maine Prairie arrived in wagons and buggies. However, most out-of-towners arrived at the Fairfield depot on chartered trains from Vallejo and Davisville (now Davis).
After being greeted by roman candles and rockets at the station, the surge of debarking passengers were led four abreast in a grand torchlight procession to Suisun City’s plaza. Hours later, wearied by long-winded but stirring oratory, they trudged back to Fairfield for the train ride home.
The Fairfield Station was relocated to Suisun City in 1878 when a branch of the first rail line was built to Benicia. The original line through Fairfield was altered to create a junction of the two lines in Suisun City. Modern aerial photos document the scarified land where the earlier tracks to Fairfield once lay.
So when the long-awaited rail station on Peabody Road is completed, it will not be a historical first. It will be reclaiming Fairfield’s past.
Archivist & local historian