|The Lake Majella "V" that straddled the small collection yard for the quarry.|
Source: Southern Pacific Railroad assessor's map, noting stations and tracks.
The main industry at Lake Majella was high-grade glass-quality quartz crystals, i.e., beach sand. This part of the Monterey Peninsula was blessed with sand dunes and those dunes located immediately around the tidal lake were composed entirely of this valuable product. Sand was processed at an on-site quarry where it was washed, dried, and bagged. The bags were then loaded into waiting freight cars that parked upon the two spurs, both of which acted as the end-of-track. The tracks extended deep into the area to an unrecorded terminus. In later years, bulldozers pushed the sand into hoppers which fed conveyor belts which then sent the sand to the processing plant. It was an efficient system where Southern Pacific boxcars waited beside the main processing center to export fully-processed product. Over the years, the sand was exported for sanding the railroad tracks, for use in glass for reconstructing San Francisco after the 1906 earthquake, for ceramics used in electrical devices, for roofing paper, for soap, and even to refill beaches elsewhere. In other words, it was a very popular commodity, which is probably why the operation continued until 1978.
|The Del Monte sand processing center at Lake Majella, c. 1945. An SP boxcar sits in front of the facility, awaiting its load of sand bags for shipment out. Photograph by Julian P. Graham. (Pebble Beach Company – Lagorio Archives)|
|Lake Majella tracks, showing an otherwise unlisted spur at right beside a hopper, 1949. Photo by Art Lloyd.|
|1898 Hotel Del Monte map. (Monterey Public Library)|
|The sand dunes at Moss Beach beside Lake Majella.|
|Lake Majella before heavy industry and development drained the lake and cleared the forests.|
Official Railroad Information:
Lake Majella first appeared on Southern Pacific timetables in 1890 at the end of the Pacific Grove Extension. The station was located 130.0 miles from San Francisco via Castroville, Pajaro Junction, Gilroy, and San José, and it was also 0.1 miles from Asilomar. Agency books at the turn of the century listed the station as having a class-A freight platform, which means it also included a spur, but no other services were listed. This situation never changed. The spur was listed initially in the 1920 as a 51-car-length (~2,550 feet) stretch of track, however this listing disappeared in later years, possibly because the switch was more closely located at Asilomar, being just to the south of that stop. Passenger service to the stop continued until around 1940, when the stop became strictly for freight. The stop remained in frequent use until 1978 when the line was truncated to Seaside.Geo-Coordinates & Access Rights:
|The sand quarry at Lake Majella, c. 1960. Photo by Pat Hathaway. (Fine Art America)|
The site of Asilomar Station is now Hayward Lumber off of Sunset Drive. Lake Majella itself is now the Inn and Links at Spanish Bay resort, with the core hub of activity located roughly within the residential subdivision on the east side of that complex. The western spur of the track paralleled Crocker Road to the east and is now visible, albeit somewhat overgrown. The eastern spur ran through the east side of Hayward Lumber. Both tracks crossed Sunset Drive with their present right-of-ways flanking the Pacific Grove Self-Storage facility and the adjacent shopping center. Both spurs undoubtedly continued directly to the Lake Majella quarry, but unfortunately the Gold Links at Spanish Bay has developed over any remaining trace of those right-of-ways.
Citations & Credits:
- The Board and Batten of the Pacific Grove Heritage Society. February/March 2004.
- Rice, Walter, and Emiliano Echiverria. Images of Rail: Rails of California's Central Coast. Arcadia, 2008.
- Seavey, Kent. Images of America: Pacific Grove. Arcadia, 2005.
- "The Monterey Branch". Abandoned Rails.