Okay, a lot of people have been asking me of late regarding my publication plans and this is where I tell everyone the not-so-great news: I’m going digital for the first edition. This was not how I originally intended to distribute Santa Cruz Trains, but after a lot of thought and a look at my current financial situation, it’s what makes the most sense.
There is an additional reason, though. When I first set out to make this book, I saw the year 2015 looming. That is a very important year for Santa Cruz railroad history. It marks the 75th year since the railroad route over the Santa Cruz Mountains was shuttered. February 26th, 1940, was the last day a train ran over the route. That night, a disaster of epic proportions single-handedly destroyed much of the route. While the tunnels survived, slides, sinks, and washouts ripped large portions of the route between Felton and Alma to shreds. Evidence shows that the section in the Burns Creek basin was especially hard hit, though other sections, including at the top of the Zayante grade and in the upper Los Gatos Creek basin, were severely damaged as well. The Southern Pacific, which had desired to shut down the route since at least 1931, took advantage of the destruction and got permission to close the bugger down. I’ve been working since last year on an article just on this subject entitled, “The Scandal of 1940: How the S.P. Ended Operations in Santa Cruz” (or something similar).
I’m using the February 26th date as my goal, hoping that the entire book can be done by then, but I feel my research may lack in certain areas and that better photographs may come along in the following years. Thus, I plan to release the digital version in 2015 and a large-format, soft-bound 2nd edition a few years later, probably around 2018. This will give time for people to find new photographs, discover new secrets of the route, and provide me with information that was not previously forthcoming. There are a lot of people out there with information and photographs that have not come forward; hopefully by providing this window of 3-4 years between releases, this new information can clean up some of the more sketchy information that is currently available. I know I am not satisfied with everything I’ve found.
In the end, I want this to be a bit of a crowdsourced project. While I remain the author and editor, I’ve already been in communication with multiple people that have special knowledge regarding certain areas of the old Southern Pacific routes. I fully intend to use that knowledge to the best of my abilities to make this book the most definitive source of Southern Pacific activities in the Santa Cruz Mountains available. But that will come in time. Until then, this blog and the 2015 digital first edition of Santa Cruz Trains: Railroads of the Santa Cruz Mountains will provide the outlet for local historians to come together and share the information they have. Stay tuned! We’re just getting started.