Welcome to the Santa Cruz Trains update blog. On this site I will be posting updates, requests, problems, and other information regarding the writing of my book: Santa Cruz Trains—Railroads of the Santa Cruz Mountains.
First, let’s get a few questions about formatting out of the way. This book is dealing with a number of different topics. Railroad fans will be sad to see that the trains themselves will barely make an appearance. Indeed, I am actively seeking photographs that do not include trains prominently displayed. The reason for this is that this is a book about locations. The locations include trestles, tunnels, freight stops, lumber mills, limekiln refineries, and even a black powder works. They also include the more obvious stations and flag-stops used by passengers. This book is NOT about physical trains or their components. While those are important issues that will occasionally crop into the content of the book, they are not the centerpiece. If you’d like to know about local narrow-gauged rolling stock (engines and cars), check out Bruce MacGregor’s The Birth of California Narrow Gauge. It is an excellent book that deals with local railroads prior to 1910. The engines after that are more obscure and any book on Southern Pacific Railroad engines and rolling stock will likely suffice.
With that covered, let’s talk a bit more about what this book is about. It is about places. Some of these places can be visited today while others cannot be…at least not as they once were. Familiar places such as Los Gatos, Santa Cruz, and Boulder Creek will be nestled in nicely alongside unfamiliar places such as Eva, Eblis, and Hayes. Well-known railroad tunnels such as the Mission Hill Tunnel will sit side-by-side with lesser known ones such as the Mountain Charlie Tunnel. Similarly, trestles visible to all such as the one at Shady Gulch alongside Highway 9 will be discussed with lesser known trestles like that crossing Hendrys Creek. This is a book of places. Not people. Not trains.
So here’s a rough breakdown of how things will be arranged:
Chapter 1: A Brief History of the Railroads
A brief history of the San Lorenzo, Santa Cruz & Felton, South Pacific Coast, Felton & Pescadero, Southern Pacific, and Dougherty Extension Railroads. Much of this material has been covered by others in better detail than I will provide, thus I will only summarize the essentials.
Methods & Techniques:
This section follows the first chapter and will outline some of the techniques and methods I will use later in the book. It is here for a reason, and is essential to understanding certain aspects of the later sections. I will devote an entire blog post or two to this in the coming weeks.
Chapter 2: A Walking Tour of the Routes
This is already far along in progress. It is designed as a half-historical, half-contemporary walk along all of the right-of-ways that will be discussed in the later sections. Each and every location will be mentioned in geographic order with an accompanying page number so that this chapter can also be used as a jumping off point for people wishing to look further into specific stops. The material is gathered together from my own person journeys and those of close reliable colleagues who have helped in this book project.
Chapter 3: From Santa Cruz to Olympia
This is the first section that dedicates from one page to four pages of space to specific stops along the right-of-way, specifically the route between the Santa Cruz wharves to where the line terminates today.
Chapter 4: From Eccles to the Summit Tunnel
This section continues the route through the Zayante Creek, Bean Creek, and Burns Creek basins to the Summit Tunnel, which will have its own article in the following section.
Chapter 5: Los Gatos Creek
This section concludes the primary Mountain Route following the tracks as they pass through Los Gatos Creek and terminate at Vasona Junction.
Chapter 6: The Felton Loop
This section returns to Felton and discusses the original Santa Cruz & Felton RR right-of-way from Felton Junction to Old Felton, the brief loop created by the Felton Trestle, and then the Felton Branch to the Holmes Lime Kiln thereafter.
Chapter 7: The Boulder Creek Branch
This section follows the route of the Felton & Pescadero Railroad on its journey to Boulder Creek.
Chapter 8: The Dougherty Extension Railroad
This final and shorter chapter follows the route of the private Santa Clara Valley Mill & Lumber Company tracks that led north from Boulder Creek into Castle Rock State Park.
Chapter 9: The End of the Route
Following the bulk chapters, this little chapter will discuss the closure of the line in 1940 and the continuation of the route to Olympia and Los Gatos after the main line closed. It will further discuss the end of the excursion trains to Big Trees, the closure of the Los Gatos Branch, and the purchase of the line in Santa Cruz by Roaring Camp after the sand pit in Olympia closed in the early 1980s.
A complete and comprehensive list of sources will be provided, especially since there will be interesting techniques used in the pages themselves (to be discussed later).
A necessary companion to the methods section, this estimated 4-page section will explain common terms and abbreviations used throughout the document.
Finally, there must be an index for this book and it will be as complete as possible.
Naturally I have not included all the smaller things such as forewords, dedications, and the table of contents here, but this is the rough general outline of the document. Feel free to suggest alterations or reorganizations; I am quite flexible at this point. Thus far only a few location entries, half of chapter 2, and a bit of the first and last chapter have been written. The rest is still in blog form awaiting editing.
That’s it for now, but, again, give me any suggestions you desire. I want this project to be somewhat open source and every contribution will be noted when possible. Cheers!