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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 This site would not be possible without your help and support. Thank you! – Derek R. Whaley

Friday, September 14, 2012

Glenwood Station

The most important station between Felton and Los Gatos was undoubtedly Glenwood, located roughly half-way along the Mountain Route of the South Pacific Coast Railroad, 66 miles south of San Francisco via Alameda Point. It served multiple functions for different types of trains, and was such an important waystop along the line that the town survived in diminished form for two decades after the Mountain Route was disbanded in 1940.

Glenwood Resort's Villa as it appeared in the 1960s
Charles C. Martin founded the small township in 1851 where he built a tollhouse and waystation for passing stagecoaches along Bean Creek. At first, he named the little settlement Martinsville, but he was convinced to change it to Glenwood a few years later. The current name means what it describes—a glen in the woods. Locals have also called the place Bean Hollow over the years, since it is a hollow alongside Bean Creak. Martin built a small town which included a winery and a lumber mill. When the train came to town, he added a general store, farm, personal villa, picnic area, and a large hotel. Eventually, the town hosted the Glenwood Magnetic Springs Hotel & Resort, which was one of the many tourist traps located in Santa Cruz County during this era. Because of the stagecoach line, California eventually routed a state highway—called Glenwood Highway—through the town.

Glenwood Magnetic Springs Resort, including Summer Home Farm, Villaga Fontenay, and Glenwood Hotel
The importance of Glenwood to the railroad goes back to the construction of the line in 1879. When construction began on the route, Glenwood was at the end of one of the mile-long tunnels: Tunnel #3. On the south end of the tunnel was Glenwood and on the north was Laurel, a smaller and slightly less important stop on the line. Like the Summit Tunnel, Glenwood Tunnel was drilled from both ends. Glenwood turned into a construction site and Chinese labor camp for two years as progress was made on the tunnel. The Glenwood Tunnel took less work than the Summit Tunnel, but a smaller bore south of Glenwood under Mountain Charlie was also required, keeping the laborers busy. The camp remained in existence through 1880 as stories from that time report picking up Chinese workers at Glenwood.

Glenwood freight depot at an unknown date, though after 1909 when the line was completely broad-gauaged.
After the railroad began service through the town, things changed quickly. Glenwood was roughly at the top of the grade. From there, trains headed downhill south to Los Gatos, or downhill south to Santa Cruz. Freight trains—especially lumber haulers—left their cars at Glenwood for later cars to pick up. The 1899 Station Book notes that it had an A-class freight depot, meaning that there were plenty of sidings to park cars on. There was also a turntable and special houses built for crew spending the night. The station there had full telegraph equipment and provided both passenger and freight service. When the line was broad-gauaged in the early 1900s, the turntable appears to have been removed, possibly because the Santa Cruz-Los Gatos supply line was better understood by that time.

Glenwood Station with Glenwood Magnetic Springs Resort in the background, c. 1919.
The freight office at Glenwood closed in February 1927, signaling the beginning of the end for Glenwood. Today, Glenwood Highway has been rerouted to create Highway 17, which completely bipassed Glenwood in 1940, the same year that the railroad discontinued service to the town. The stationhouse was demolished and the tracks pulled up two years later. The town declined quickly from that point, with the post office closing in 1954. The last formal resident of the town (as opposed to resident of Scotts Valley) was Margaret Koch, the granddaughter of Charles C. Martin and the last postmaster. She died in 1990. People still live in the area but it is sparsely settled. The south portal of Glenwood Tunnel can be viewed under the road when exiting the town to the north.

Glenwood in 1941 a few months before the tracks were pulled. The station house has already been demolished.
 Compare this photograph to the one above, they depict almost identical locations.
The SPCRR flickriver page has posted a fun Then and Now photograph of the station and the current site of the station. The station was a fairly standard design, reminiscent of the stations in Ben Lomond, Boulder Creek, and Laurel. In the top photograph, probably taken sometime in the 1910s, there is a box car sitting on the tracks. The tracks have been broad-gauged by this time. The tree cover is sparse, as it remains in this obscure valley today. Below, the site of the station has become a small vineyard while the track right-of-way has been turned into an access road. Nothing of the original artifacts remain except the tunnel, which would be found a bit further down the tracks and around the corner in the distance. (Click the photograph for a little better size)

Glenwood townsite is California State Historic Landmark 449. The marker is placed at roughly the site of the old railroad station building.

  • Southern Pacific System: List of Officers, Agencies and Stations, 1899.
  • Clark, Donald Thomas. Santa Cruz County Place Names: A Geographical Dictionary. Scotts Valley, CA: Kestrel Press, 2008.

BONUS IMAGES: Provided by The Society of California Pioneers via "The Stereoviews of Carleton Watkins", these images portray Glenwood Magnetic Springs in the early 1900s from various views.

ADDITIONAL IMAGES: Provided by Jeff Escott. All color photographs are circa 1979.
Panoramic view of Glenwood Valley with captions noting locations of structures in valley.
Glenwood Station in the 1880s with a push cart sitting on the tracks with pushers. Note three rows of tracks, the lever for the Glenwood turntable at right, and the Glenwood General Store in the background. 
The original feeding trough at Glenwood Station, with the words "General" still visible in 1979. 
A picnic train parked with picnickers at the meadow immediately south of Glenwood Station, c. 1890s.
The rough site of the picnic scene above, based on trees in the mid-ground. 
A signal block on the property of Glenwood Station.
A train parked at Glenwood Station on a snowy day in the 1890s. The post office is at right.
A modern-day photograph of the post office building and site of Glenwood Station.
A train blasting around the corner from the Glenwood Tunnel into Glenwood Station. Automatic Block Signals flank the train while box cars sit on a siding at left. Another spur sits between them.


  1. Cool stuff, Derek. You're becoming an expert on this history!

  2. I finally am getting a little more of this Facebook stuff figured out. Interesting reading. Let me know sometime when you're going to go hiking about the old railroad sites and I'd love to tag along.

  3. These photos are awesome. Way to go!!!!

  4. Great pictures of the train station. where are these come from? first time I have seen these north bound shots. Note, Margaret Koch passed away in 2011. The last of the Martin lineage who lived in Glenwood is Catherine Koch Rebhahn, daughter of Margaret passed away in 2006.

  5. Follow the link at the top of the stereoscoped photos to see those. I'm not sure where the rest came from. I found them searching through Google and Google Images and forgot to cite them (I'm trying to be better at that now). That's unfortunate about Margaret dying. I had read a little bit about her, I think, when doing some of the research on the area. With Catherine gone, who was the next of kin? Perhaps someone inherited the family's photos and relics.

  6. Wonderful! I have a couple of photos of Summer Home farm and now I know where it was. Great stuff as usual Derek.