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California Genealogy and History Archives

San Bernardino County and Riverside County


CHARLES E. GAINES, present street superintendent of Riverside, is a civil and construction engineer with many years of successful experience in the building and rebuilding of railroads and other public works. He was identified with railroad building in a number of southern states, and finally, during a three months' leave of absence, came to California and became so enamored of the charms of the Golden State that he never resumed his work in the East, and it may be stated has never had cause to regret the decision that made him a factor in the affairs of Southern California.

Mr. Gaines was born in Lewis County, Kentucky, June 28, 1878. His father, Thomas Moore Gaines, was also a native of Kentucky, of Maryland and Virginia stock. The Gaines family was one of sixty-eight that crossed the mountains by wagon train and were the first to colonize in Bracken County, Kentucky, each family taking up a section of land in that wilderness region. Gaines is an English name, and members of the family were in the Revolution. Thomas Moore Gaines is also a resident of California, living in San Diego County, where he is a supervisor in the Indian service and has been identified with the Indian service in the West for twenty years. While in the East he was prominent in the York and Scottish Rite bodies of Masonry, and for nineteen years was high priest of the Chapter. His wife was Mary Florence Wells. She is a native of Kentucky and is also living in San Diego County. She is of English-Welsh descent and of Revolutionary stock. Her father, Jacob Wells, was a provost marshal in the Union Army during the Civil war and assisted in heading off Morgan's raid through Southern Ohio.

Charles E. Gaines acquired a public school education, graduated from high school at Vanceburg, Kentucky, in 1896, and also attended the Jones & Kelley Business College at Lexington, Kentucky. During vacations he had his first experience working with a crew under Mr. Prather, who was under Chief Engineer A. E. Childs on the Collis P. Huntington division of the Chesapeake & Ohio Railroad. He continued the same work for two or three years after graduating. For one year he was with the Kinnekenic & Freestone branch of this railroad that penetrated what is known as the Boone-Furness and Herald and Johnson tracts in Northeastern Kentucky, where were originated great volumes of tonnage of iron ore, glass sands and freestone for bridges. At that time Mr. M. E. Ingalls was president of the Chesapeake & Ohio and the Big Four. Mr. Gaines was employed on the Big Four system under Chief Engineer G. W. Kittredge, and also for the purchasing agent, George Tozzer. Following that he was under C. W. Cheers, general superintendent of construction, in the reconstruction of the Chattanooga, Rome & Southern Railway. Then followed a period of employment with the Atlanta, Birmingham & Atlantic Railroad, working jointly for George Dale Wadley and Alexander Gorman, general superintendent of construction. This work involved the joining up of several smaller lines and extending the system from 139 miles to 740 miles from Brunswick, Georgia, to Birmingham, Alabama, with a "Y" into Atlanta. In this work Mr. Gaines had charge of much of the grading and roadbed construction and also the building of bridges.

The three months leave of absence which he spent in California came in 1908. After going as far as San Francisco he returned to Los Angeles and soon afterward sent in his resignation to the Southern Company and joined the Pacific Electric Railway Company. This corporation employed him in straightening out and making a complete record of the rights of way, and he served as right of way agent and then in charge of all the company's paving and street construction in the various towns served by the system. Altogether he was for eight years with the Pacific Electric. For two years he was in the contracting and paving business, building roads in Los Angeles, Ventura, Kern and Kings Counties. In Mono County he built the dam at Grant Lake for the Southern Sierra Power Company. During the period of the World war he was with the D. C. Jackman interests, his time being divided between the Ray Plant in Arizona and the Chino plant in New Mexico.

Mr. Gaines came to Riverside and in September, 1920, was appointed street superintendent, and he is now employing his broad experience and abilities in this important responsibility. On coming to Riverside he also bought a four acre navel orange grove at the end of Grove Street. Besides looking after his oranges he has embarked rather extensively in the poultry business. At the present time his plant contains a flock of eight hundred pullets, and he plans additions that will bring it up to a normal average of five thousand. He also has an apiary of 117 stands, and this he also plans to increase steadily.

Mr. Gaines is a member of the County Farm Bureau. He is a past senior deacon of Lodge No. 305 F. & A. M. at Waycross, Georgia, is a member of Lodge No. 672, Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks, at Pasadena, California, is an independent in politics, and while in Georgia served as a member of the County Central Committees of Ware and Glynn counties. He and his wife are members of the Christian Church at Alhambra. December 12, 1899, Mr. Gaines married Edith Van Norman, who was born in Los Angeles County, California. Her father, Joseph M. Van Norman, was a pioneer Texas cattleman. Mrs. Gaines represents an old southern family of Holland Dutch ancestry, and is a member of the Daughters of the American Revolution and the Daughters of the Confederacy. They have one daughter, Ysabel.


History of San Bernardino and Riverside Counties 
By: John Brown, Jr., Editor for San Bernardino County 
And James Boyd, Editor for Riverside County 
With selected biography of actors and witnesses of the period 
of growth and achievement.
Volume III, the Western Historical Association, 1922, 
The Lewis Publishing Company, Chicago, ILL

Transcribed by Peggy Hooper 2011