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This website is a constant work-in-progress, with articles updated regularly throughout the site. Much of the information comes from local railroad fans such as yourselves. If you have information regarding local railroads, photographs or railroad documents, or you feel a mistake has been made or information omitted from an article, leave a comment on the appropriate page or email me at author@santacruztrains.com. This site would not be possible without your help and support. Thank you! – Derek R. Whaley

Friday, May 11, 2012

Eccles

USGS map from 1902 showing Eccles' location.
Despite what railroad timetables and agency books appear to suggest, Eccles probably never moved and was always located along what is today Zayante School Road. The station first appeared on Southern Pacific records in 1888 as the freight station for the Union Mill's spur, which was located 0.2 miles to the south. Despite the local timber operations, it appears that Eccles' primary purpose was as a shipping point for local aggregates quarried from the hills.

In 1878, John Sanderson Eccles deeded 2.5 acres of land to the South Pacific Coast Railroad when it was constructing its right-of-way beside Zayante Creek. Eccles was a gas-fitter from Ireland who entered the United States in 1856 via New York. He moved to Santa Cruz in 1875 and registered to vote on July 16th of that year. Little else is known of the man. The community named after him was well known for a while as a resort area in the redwoods akin to Boulder Creek. The first post office in the area operated near Zayante School Road from 3 May 1878 to 10 April 1915 when it moved to Olympia. Following the relocation of the post office, Eccles seems to have disappeared. Olympia became the established name of the community and, although Eccles remained a flag-stop thereafter, its importance declined quickly. It lingered on railroad timetables for decades until 1942.

One of the Eccles station signs survived and is owned by the Santa Cruz Museum of Art & History. (Derek Whaley)
Oddly, Eccles actually outlasted the mountain division by a year, suggesting that the Southern Pacific Railroad continued to use the stop until 1942. The outbreak of World War II, though, may have finally prompted them to abandon the stop and move the end-of-track 0.2 miles to the south. The only known image of the station is in Bruce MacGregor's South Pacific Coast: A Centennial and permission for it to be digitalized has not been obtained, unfortunately.



Official Railroad Information:
Eccles was located 70.0 miles from San Francisco via the Mayfield Cut-Off and 9.2 miles from Santa Cruz. It was formally active from at least 1888 until 1942. It hosted a 310-foot-long spur, a freight platform, and a station shelter. Agency books classified it as a B-class station, implying the presence of a siding at the stop, which is easily believed considering the wide right-of-way through the area. No other facilities were at the site and there was never a permanent agency office there.

Geo-Coordinates & Access Rights:
37˚N 4’ 38.4”, 122˚W 3’ 2.7”

The site of Eccles is at the fork on Zayante School Road, which now functions largely as a parking area for local residents. The freight platform was probably located beside the sandstone wall. The property is public or at least publicly accessible.


Citations & Credits:
  • Clark, Donald Thomas. Santa Cruz County Place Names: A Geographical Dictionary. Scotts Valley, CA: Kestrel Press, 2008.
  • Southern Pacific System: List of Officers, Agencies and Stations, 1899.
  • Whaley, Derek. Santa Cruz Trains: Railroads of the Santa Cruz Mountains: 111-114

4 comments:

  1. There is a photo of the Eccles passenger shelter on page 221 of "South Pacific Coast A Centenial" by Macgreggor and Truesdale. Gary Broeder Morgan Hill, CA

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  2. Oh, nice! I've actually never seen that book in person. I just took a punch of photos from A Portrait, though, and those will be going up soon for various posts.

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  3. Nice to have all this information in one place. Good job!

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  4. I always wondered what was in that vault as a kid. I walked by it everyday from my home on old zayanted school road to walk down madrone way to visit my friends up zayante. We used to call the road the old vault road. I wished I could see what was inside of the vault everyday. I moved to Oregon in 1978 but am coming to visit the old vault this summer as well as my old stomping grounds, the sand plants.

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