The first year of operation of the railroad coincided with the beginnings of a deep national economic decline.
Farmers were unable to get profitable return on their crops, banks and railroads failed nationwide.
Articles of Incorporation for the San Joaquin Valley Railroad indicate that the corporation intended to build 100 miles of track, including sidings and spurs, through the agricultural acreage east of Fresno, then north to the timber and mineral resources of the Sierra foothills. A celebration of the completion of track-laying was held at the Pollasky terminus on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving of 1891 with a reported 3,000 Fresnans attending.
The railroad began official operation in January 1892.
The city of Clovis began as a freight stop along the San Joaquin Valley Railroad. The Clovis station, after which the town was named, was positioned on the Owen side of the track.
Organized on January 15, 1890, by Fresno businessmen Thomas E. Cole and Owen later sold land to Marcus Pollasky for development of a townsite.
The original townsite featured streets named for the officers and principal investors of the railroad: (Benjamin) Woodworth, (Marcus) Pollasky, Fulton (Berry), (Thomas) Hughes, (Gerald) Osmun, and (O. The townsite, named Clovis by Pollasky, was laid out on what was originally Owen's land.
Williams, in partnership with Michigan railroad speculator Marcus Pollasky, the SJVRR began construction in Fresno on July 4, 1891, and reached the farmlands of Clovis Cole and George Owen by October of that year.Fresno civil engineer Ingvart Tielman mapped the townsite on behalf of Pollasky on December 29, 1891.