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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, October 26, 2012

Meehan Station

Meehan Station was one of the many small stops along the Zayante Creek segment of the Southern Pacific Railroad's Mountain Route. Tradition, at least, claims that the stop was named after Patrick Meehan, a track foreman for the Southern Pacific Railroad. Little else is known about the site except it only appeared in records beginning in the late 1890s, after the Southern Pacific had bought out the South Pacific Coast Railroad.

The 1899 Station Book lists the site as being 70 mile south of San Francisco via Alameda Point. It was equidistant between Zayante Station and Eccles Spur, with Gibbs being more directly north of it and the small Kenville flag-stop being directly south of it. No siding, freight loading area, post or telegraph office, or water tower is ever reported to have been there. However, photographic evidence of the site includes a long siding running the length of the Meehan site.

Meehan Station sidings with automatic block signal in the background. Siding track is severely overgrown at left,
suggesting years of disuse. Mainline at right still in use and clear of debris. (Courtesy Stephen M. Hayes)
According to property line assessments available via Google Maps, a wider area of track was allotted to the right-of-way beside the 10012 block of East Zayante Road north of Felton. This area matches the map data provided above. The importance of the site and the fact that it was noted in virtually all railroad timetables after 1907 suggests that it increased in importance, possibly serving as a way station for southbound freight trains to stop before entering Eccles Tunnel. In a number of timetables, it also serves as the only listed stop between Mt. Hermon and Glenwood. 

The stretch of right-of-way in this area suffered severe damage in the 1940 storm season but the entire area is accessible via the Santa Cruz City Water District access road. No further information about the site is known at this time.

Citations:
  • 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.
  • Hayes, Stephen M., Southern Pacific Stations in California, Vol. I. <http://www.westernpacificdepotsandstations.com/spdepots.htm>

10 comments:

  1. We own this parcel from the old railroad right of way, and have recently been exploring the SPC history, looking for tunnel portals, etc. I had wondered why a portion of the right of way was 200' wide rather than the standard 100'. Fascinating. Let me know if you want to go exploring out there with us to look for evidence of Meehan. We do have a 1913 culvert and some other evidence of the train infrastructure on our property. The parcel was listed in county records as having some kind of archeological significance. I didn't know if that referred to the right of way itself, the culvert or even something else...do you know if the county records might have more detail somewhere?

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  2. Greetings Ms. DeWitt, it is very interesting to know that you live on or near that 200' segment of right-of-way. To the best of my knowledge, the entire segment is owned by the Santa Cruz Co. Water District. How is it that you own it? I don't doubt your honesty, I've just walked the fire road along that entire route and never had to bushwack through a yard. Do you just leave the route open there?

    I love seeing the old culverts as I walk the route. Last time I walked it, I found two or three and brushed away the mud and dirt to check the dates. Most along the route date between 1910 and 1914. Archaeologically speaking, I can't think why that segment specifically would have significance except that there may be foundations for the Meehan Stationhouse around there. I have never seen the station in photographs so I have no idea where it was specifically or how big or small it was. Olympia's station was a tiny little bus stop-sized structure. Country records should have something if the site has been noted as being archaeologically significant, but I don't know how to follow up on that.

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  3. Hi Derek -- we bought two parcels there in 2009, one of which is the old right of way starting at Western Stated and the other is alongside it on the creek side. If you hike there you have no doubt seen our water tans and storage shed to the left of the RR grade just past Western States.

    We just took a walk out there and tried to visualize where a stationhouse might have been and it's hard to say. There isn't much area left wide enough. I wonder if we used a metal detector if we might find some things that could be a clue.

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  4. We did see a number of posts along the RR bed on the creek side. Do you know if those were built anywhere as a type of guard rail, or might it be associated with the location of a station house or siding?

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  5. Have you developed anything directly on the old right-of-way? I seem to remember a short strip of property north of the Eccles tunnel that was not a fire road. There was a big wash-out along the route in one of those spots. Regarding the stationhouse, it was probably very small but I known nothing about it except one existed there. Cement blocks probably served as the foundation. A metal detector could maybe find something, but most of the route was built with cement and wood except the tracks and spikes.

    The posts along the side of the creek in that area was, if I remember correctly, telegraph lines and later telephone lines. They are all over the place along that route. More complex board arrangements were usually intended to hold up the hillsides since the entire stretch was prone to slides. There are a few spots between Eccles and Clems tunnels that you can see the hillside supports in (perhaps too) vivid detail.

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  6. No, our part of the railroad right of way just looks like a fire road. We can't develop it because another property owner has easement rights on it.

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  7. Hi Derek - I found a photo of Meehan in Stephen M. Hayes' book "Southern Pacific Depots in California, Vol. 1. It's an undated photo of track and the Meehan sign. It shows no structure and shows a siding that had clearly fallen into disuse by the time the photo was taken. I have exchanged a few emails with Mr. Hayes, so I'll ask him if you can post the image.

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  8. Thank you, thank you, thank you! That's awesome! I truly hope you can get permission for me to post it. If not, please feel free to take a photo for me for my private collection of photographs. I'd love to see this even if I can't release it. But publishing the photo is my hope. Thank you and best of luck.

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  9. He gave permission and I sent the images to you Facebook email, but I don't know if you ever received them. If you let me know your direct email address I can send them to you.

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  10. I never received them. My email address is whaleyland (at) gmail.com. I look forward to checking out these images.

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