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The Problems with Names

If there’s one thing I have discovered in my research, it is that many locations went by many different names. They are not consistent, sometimes not even within their own time period. Perhaps the most problematic name is “Wright’s Station”. This small village began life as “Wright’s Station” but quickly became simply “Wright’s”. Then, naturally, people got lazy and the apostrophe was removed, turning it into “Wrights”. Finally, around 1890, the s was dropped entirely, turning it into “Wright”. This last name is what stuck, according to the Southern Pacific Railroad, but most people still seem to call the town site “Wright’s” regardless of its longest-established name.

Other more varied names have crept up, though, some with annoying consequences. Brackney, for instance, began its life as “River Station”, located near the later site of Bonny Brae. It quickly progressed to “Riverside” then “Pettis”. This is where things get strange. From Pettis, it moved, literally, a mile north to become a few years later “Brackney” (originally misspelled “Brockney”). Then, just for good measure, “Bonny Brae” popped up near the site of River Station’s original location. During the earliest period, another stop, “Kent’s Spur”, also appeared near the same general geographic place, though it’s clear it was not identical to any of those previously listed stations above.

I’ll end this rant with Mount Hermon, a site that prior to 1880 was called Arcadia. When the South Pacific Coast trucked through the area, it was renamed “Tuxedo” to avoid confusion with another Arcadia located elsewhere. But on timetables, it was simply called “Campus”, except in the year immediately prior to its closure. Around 1903, the Mount Hermon Association took over, and the stop was listed alternately as either “Mt. Hermon” or “Mt. Hermon Assoc. Grounds”. At the end, it finally reverted to the much simpler “Mt. Hermon,” the name it still bares today (though it more properly is labelled “Mount Hermon” on signage outside the station house).

With frequent name changes come confusion. While the changes are fairly easy to document in-text, labeling the individual articles has become somewhat of a burden because of this. Which name is the best name for the site? The first? The last? The most grammatically proper? The longest-established? Issues such as these will have to be resolved and, fortunately, most lend themselves to easy resolution. Still others, though, such as “Wright’s” above suggest that the most popular rendition, even if used only for a short while, may be the most appropriate.

Moving on to one further issue regarding names, the tunnels and trestles in the Santa Cruz Mountains were not always named. At least not officially. Formally, the tunnels were numbered 1 through 8, beginning with the short tunnel in Cats Canyon. After standard-gauging, they were renumbered 1 through 6, with the Summit Tunnel becoming the first in the new numbering. Yet even in this example, it becomes obvious that some of the tunnels have names, even if they never formally did. The “Summit Tunnel” is the best-known, but the “Eccles Tunnel”, now the Atomic Vault; the “Clems” or “Mountain Charlie Tunnel”; and the “Mission Tunnel” in Santa Cruz are also all well-known. Should these tunnels simply be numbered as the Southern Pacific intended, or should their popular names be used. Again, in-text there is little issue, but the titles of articles beg a name even while logic dictates that the number is enough.

Trestles are even more difficult. The Southern Pacific did not appear to number their trestles, at least not in any standardized system. Making things more difficult, three separate branches crossed the San Lorenzo River at various points, with the Santa Clara Valley Mill & Lumber Company crossing it more times north of Boulder Creek. What do you name these trestles? There were nine crossings of the river by the Southern Pacific, but they were not all there at the same time. The first crossing was at the river’s mouth and falls out of the purview of this book, yet it needs to be mentioned, I suppose. The third crossing in Felton was only installed much later than the others. Does it cause everything to get renumbered or is it just called something else? For the most part, I have adopted the method of naming trestles after the body of water (or land) they cross and numbering them from downstream to upstream. Trestles caused by spur lines are named separately, even if they cross the same body of water. Thus the trestle in Felton is the “Felton Trestle” to separate it from the older trestles along the route. The Los Gatos trestle to the Forbes Mill is the “Forbes Mill Trestle” since it is on a spur as well. Fortunately all the SCVM&L Co. trestles are north of Boulder Creek and do not complicate the numbering scheme much. Since the Southern Pacific railroad failed to number or name these trestles in any helpful way, mostly instead just naming it “trestle between [blank] and [blank]”, the method I have chosen will hopefully work just as well.

As usual, give me your thoughts and opinions. For issues such as these, I have been very flexible. Some trestles and tunnels will get articles of their own while others will be meshed in with station and spur articles. This is to keep page numbers down a bit and because, quite frankly, there isn’t a lot of information on a lot of the trestles.