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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 4, 2012

Olympia

Olympia was a small rural passenger and freight station located above Zayante Creek near Quail Hollow Ranch. It was located only 0.4 miles south of Eccles, another rural station, and was the most northern station along the Santa Cruz Branch following the abandonment of the mountain section in 1941. The name derived from the nearby Camp Olympia YMCA retreat. In April 1915, Olympia, or rather an adjacent resort, gained control over the local post office from Eccles, thereby signalling the rise of importance of the station.

The grade crossing beside Olympia's station site on Olympia Station Road, 2011. (Derek Whaley)
Olympia began its life first as a passenger station, catering to the local resorts and campgrounds that dotted the hills. In the mid-1930s, the Kaiser Pavement Company opened up a sand and aggregate quarry nearby and Olympia became primarily a freight-holding yard thereafter for the company thereafter. Most photographs of the station show various freight cars parked on the siding across from the station. When the mountain section closed in February 1940 due to storm damage—including damage near the station—Olympia remained open to cater to the freight concern. The station itself closed in 1942, but the stop remained on timetables until the branch was purchased by Roaring Camp Railroads in 1985.

The mainline (right) and siding at Olympia. A spur sits buried beneath the leaves at far left. (Derek Whaley)
Unlike other stops along the historic right-of-way, much still remains behind at Olympia. The siding is complete through this area, appearing as a double-track between the former Kaiser quarry to just short of the end-of-track. Three spurs can be found breaking off from this line, two near Olympia Station Road and one heading into the quarry. Beside one of the spurs, an aggregate dump still sits, deteriorating heavily from decades of disuse. Further to the south, on the quarry spur, two former Southern Pacific flatcars sit parked and abandoned with a third flipped upside-down atop one of them. Roaring Camp left these here in the late 1980s to clear their yard and have no intention of removing them. Indeed, this entire stretch of right-of-way is no longer accessible by Roaring Camp's locomotives due to the decay of the Jackass Flats bridge over Zayante Creek.

The aggregate loader near Olympia Station Road. A spur sits directly in front of it, buried beneath brush. (Derek Whaley)

A flat car with another flat car upside-down atop it on the former Kaiser Pavement Company spur. (Derek Whaley)
Another flat car parked in front of the first on the former Kaiser spur. (Derek Whaley)
Nothing of the original station house remains, though rumors persist that it was relocated onto the property of a nearby home. This is certainly possible and many of the buildings on Olympia Station Road and in the surrounding area date to this time.

Official Railroad Information:
Olympia was located 70.4 miles from San Francisco via the Mayfield Cut-Off and 8.8 miles from Santa Cruz. It hosted a long siding and 61-car-lengths (approximately 2,440-foot-long) of spur trackage. One spur headed slightly to the north on the east side of the tracks, while another ran to the south. The longest spur length probably corresponds to the Kaiser Pavement Company spur, which was 0.2 miles to the south, branching off of the siding. Olympia had no permanent freight or passenger agency at the stop, but it did host a platform and function as a class-A freight station. Olympia was formally active as a passenger and freight stop from 1905 until 1942, and its sidings and spurs remained in use until 1982 when Kaiser switched to using trucks exclusively.

Geo-Coordinates & Access Rights:
37˚N 4’ 25.6”, 122˚W 3’ 13.1”

The site of Olympia station is located at the grade crossing on Olympia State Road. The station shelter was located on the northwest corner of the crossing, while a small resort on the northeast corner acted as a more formalized station structure and hosted the post office. The shelter is gone now, but the siding and a single spur still remain behind, all the property of Roaring Camp Railroads. The resort on the east side is now a private residence.  The track in this area is no longer maintained and while trespassing is discouraged by Roaring Camp, there is no enforcement and locals are seen walking the right-of-way regularly.


Citations & Credits:
  • Clark, Donald Thomas. Santa Cruz County Place Names: A Geographical Dictionary. Scotts Valley, CA: Kestrel Press, 2008.
  • Whaley, Derek. Santa Cruz Trains: Railroads of the Santa Cruz Mountains: 111-114.

2 comments:

  1. Thanks for this post, Derek. Always good to hear more info from a fellow SPC enthusiast.

    Some thoughts on the flatcars, having hiked by them a number of times in the past few years: The wooden one is actually two flatcars, the second one is upside-down on top of the first and has no trucks. The wood base for the lower car and its truss rods appear to have collapsed recently. What little remains of the frame would likely disintegrate if an attempt was made to move the car. And the archbar trucks of that era are always suspect.

    The steel one may be movable if the bearings can be made servicable (some of the covers are missing) but it would take some work. The wooden cars would need to be cut up and loaded onto something else for transport. I can see why Roaring Camp hasn't bothered with these cars.

    -Tom Padula

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  2. The loading device you photographed appears to be a somewhat collapsed gravel loader for hopper cars. Trucks working the sand/gravel plant would back sloly out onto it, and the raised (counterweighted) ramp portion would be pushed level by the truck's wheels. Then the truck could dump its load into the car. This allowed the cars to be loaded with minimal extra labor and the loading 'ramp' would stay up and out of the way when not needed. There is another one of these a ways off in the woods about 1/4 mile south. The sand quarries there used to be quite large. This was all explained to me by a fellow I met named Ken, who is in his eighties and lives adjacent to the tracks near Olympia.

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