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Saturday, January 1, 2000

South Pacific Coast Railroad

James G. Fair, Comstock tycoon and founder
of the South Pacific Coast Railroad
Railroading in Santa Cruz County owes much to the pioneering narrow-gauge South Pacific Coast Railroad that bridges the divide of the Santa Cruz Mountains in 1880 by connecting Felton to the Southern Pacific Mainline in San José. The independent life of the company was short lived, however.

Alfred E. Davis and James G. Fair funded the majority of the enterprise when the founded the company on March 25, 1876. Fair was the largest financier, having become a millionaire from the Comstock Lode in Virginia City, Nevada. The two investors envisioned a rail line that would stretch from Alameda Point near Oakland southward through the Santa Cruz Mountains and on to Salinas where it would eventually reach the Denver & Rio Grande Railroad tracks that were heading from the east.

Construction began at Dumbarton Point near Newark in May 1876 and reached San José by 1877. Service to Los Gatos was completed by June 1, 1878. In the north, construction continued to San Francisco via a ferry terminal built at Alameda Point, which went into service the same day that traffic began to Los Gatos. In the south, it took two more years of heavy boring, major deadly accidents, and luck to connect the Los Gatos branch of the railroad to the existing Santa Cruz & Felton Railroad track just south of Felton. The South Pacific Coast purchased the older railroad and its wharf on January 1, 1880, to complete their route to Santa Cruz. A segment of track was run up the San Lorenzo River from Felton Depot in 1886 under the company name Felton & Pescadero Railroad, reaching Boulder Creek by the end of that year for the purpose of logging. The final segment built by the corporation was a branch line to Oakland that was opened on October 1, 1886.

Company logo after leasing the line to
the Southern Pacific Railroad in 1887.
Fair consolidated his holdings in May 23, 1887, under the new combined name of the South Pacific Coast Railway Company, combining seven separate but connected railroad lines. A little over a month later, on July 1, 1887, due to growing costs, poor construction methods, and changes in fortune, Fair decided to lease all rights to the entire 80-mile route to the Southern Pacific Railroad. For many more years, the route would continue to host South Pacific Coast Railroad box cars and engines, many of which were emblazoned with Southern Pacific's "Sunset Route" logo stamped in the center, until the line was broad gauged in the late 1890s and early 1900s. The South Pacific Coast Railway Company was not wholly purchased by the Southern Pacific Railroad until December 3, 1937.

The following is a complete list of stations of the South Pacific Coast Railroad according to extant timetables:
Advertisement for the South Pacific Coast Railroad, c. 1880.
  • San Francisco
  • Alameda Point / Alameda Mole
  • – Oakland Branch (1st Street, 7th Street, 14th Street)
  • Pacific Avenue
  • Second Avenue
  • Third Avenue
  • Schutzen Park
  • Morton Street
  • Chestnut Street
  • Park Street
  • Versailles Avenue
  • High Street
  • West San Leandro
  • West San Lorenzo
  • Russell's
  • Mount Eden
  • Alvarado
  • Hall's
  • Newark
  • – Centerville
  • Mowry's
  • Alviso
  • Agnew's
  • Santa Clara
  • San Jose
  • Lovelady's
  • Los Gatos
  • Alma
  • Wright's
  • Highland
  • Glenwood
  • Dougherty's Mill
  • Felton
  • Big Trees
  • Summit
  • Santa Cruz
  • Santa Cruz Beach
Citations:

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