A big parade marked the opening of the Oakland, Antioch and Eastern Railway on April 5, 1914. The electric railroad connected Oakland with Contra Costa's Central County.
Now residents of Lafayette could get to Oakland by train, and it would take only 30 minutes. San Francisco was but an hour away. Eventually the OA&E would go all the way to Chico, but like BART today, it never did reach Antioch.
That Sunday, two special trains carrying 1,000 visitors from Concord, Walnut Creek, Pacheco and Lafayette arrived at the OA&E terminal at 40th Street and Shafter Avenue in Oakland. It was the pre-opening celebration of the OA&E.
"Oakland is more than glad to extend to you, our neighbors, the hand of welcome. You have the same interests that we have and you need our help, just as we need yours," said Ben F. Woolner, Oakland city attorney and official greeter.
Judge A.S. Ormsby of Walnut Creek and Mayor Edward J. Randall of Concord responded with a new slogan for the two counties, "Hands across the Hills."
The Contra Costans were escorted to Oakland's business section to look at the store windows, and then came the auto parade of several hundred automobiles. The cars were followed by trucks carrying school bands from Oakland and Antioch.
Prizes were handed out for the most machines of the same make. Buick won with 33 cars and Ford came in second with 22. Cadillac got third place with 20 cars. Mrs. W.H. Meyer took home $50 for having the best decorated car driven by a woman; Mr. A.B. Horner got the prize for the best decorated car driven by a man.
After lunch, the visitors toured the new city hall and then gathered at Lakeside Park, where they were entertained by the Oakland exposition band of 100 schoolboys.
"At 2:30 o'clock Silas Christofferson, the aviator arrived in his hydroplane having made the trip from San Francisco in 10 minutes," reported the San Francisco Call.
Christofferson brought a congratulatory message to Oakland Mayor Frank Mott from San Francisco Mayor James Rolph.
The San Francisco Call reported that there was heavy traffic of both passengers and freight during OA&E's first week.
"Last week the first cauliflower shipment of the season left Morgan valley over the Oakland and Antioch. The shipment completely filled three cars and was routed to Chicago."
The following Sunday it was Contra Costa's turn to greet Oakland and Berkeley visitors. Real estate brokers, who had new developments to sell, chartered a special train. Fare for the round trip was $1. These Sunday specials continued for several weeks.
J.H. Gerard of Oakland was selling one-acre plots in Lafayette. He said the location, sheltered by the Berkeley Hills from the fog and wind, was exceptionally favorable for raising chickens.
Daily, seven trains ran each way. Encouraged by high patronage, the OA&E management added an evening theater special.
Days Gone By appears on Sundays. Contact Nilda Rego at email@example.com.