|1915 USGS Map showing Elkhorn.|
Elkhorn was originally named after elk that were found in the area by the early Spanish settlers. The Southern Pacific Railroad passed through the area in 1872 when it built its mainline between Gilroy and Salinas. When precisely Elkhorn was established as a stop is not known. The station catered primarily to local farms and agricultural firms, with grain being the primary crop in the area. In 1931, oil drilling also was attempted in the area, with dozens of wells being installed along the slough near Elkhorn.
Unfortunately, not much more is known at this time regarding Elkhorn's station or relationship with the railroad. The stop existed into the 1950s. Beginning in 1971, the Nature Conservancy began purchasing land around the slough for use as a nature reserve. Since then, various groups and the state and national governments have organized 1.48 square miles of land as a protected estuary managed by the California Department of Fish & Game. The Moss Landing Wildlife Area extends that protection the region around Elkhorn's station site.
Official Railroad Information:
Elkhorn was located 105.8 miles from San Francisco via Gilroy and San José and 5.4 miles from Watsonville Junction. It included a 64-car-length spur (approximately 2,560 feet long), a passing siding, and the station offered both passenger and freight services. In the late 1940s, the spur was extended to 106 car-lengths (approx. 4,204 feet).
|The Elkhorn station point with farm house in the background, possibly a dairy. (Monterey Free Libraries)|
Elkhorn likely appeared as a stop in the 1870s and remained on timetables until the late 1950s.
Geo-Coordinates & Access Rights:
36˚ N 49' 28", 121˚W 44' 26"
The site of Elkhorn station is on the main Union Pacific branch line between Watsonville Junction and Castroville. The tracks are completely surrounded by the Elkhorn Slough National Estuarine Research Reserve and access is restricted, though probably not enforced. An unpaved road off of Elkhorn Road on the south side of Kirby Park is the only access to the station site.
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