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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, November 30, 2012

Union Mill Spur

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Located at just a third of a mile south of Eccles, the Union Mill & Lumber Company maintained a spur just north of the present site of Olympia Station Road. The company was owned by Santa Cruz and Santa Clara County locals and the mill on Lompico Creek was probably established around 1884, when its spur was first connected to the mainline track. The railroad built a short spur down to the county road (now East Zayante Road) at which point the Union Mill extended it to the confluence of Zayante and Lompico Creeks, where it had its mill. The mill was capable of producing 50,000 board feet of lumber per day. Not long after the Southern Pacific took over the railroad in 1887, it took control over the entirety of the Union Mill's spur and upgraded it. A joint-use agreement was arranged whereby the mill maintained the track and the railroad provided the rolling stock.

Union Mill closed at some point in the early 1900s. It remained in agency books and timetables until 1910, suggesting that the spur was removed with the standard-guaging of the line. It probably had been out of use for many years by this point. Little else is known about the Union Mill & Lumber Company or its operations in Santa Cruz County. No known photographs exist of the facility or the station.

Official Railroad Information:
The Union Mill Spur was located 70.4 miles from San Francisco via the Mayfield Cut-Off and 8.8 miles from Santa Cruz. It supported a 2,110-foot-long narrow-gauged spur which was extended by the Union Mill Company over Zayante Creek and into its facilities. It was considered a freight and passenger stop and was listed on timetables beginning in 1888. Agency books recorded it as a class-B station, implying the presence of a siding there, but there was never a freight platform, station structure, or any agency office at the stop. Union Mill Spur was active from 1884 until the standard-guaging of the tracks in 1909.

Geo-Coordinates & Access Rights:
37˚N 4' 33.761", 122˚W 3' 3.996"

The site of Union Mill Spur's switch marks the absolute northernmost extent of the Roaring Camp Railroads property. Thus, the station site is legally owned by them and while trespassing is not encouraged, Roaring Camp does not patrol this area nor uses it. The right-of-way of the spur itself passes through county property, merging with Zayante School Road briefly before crossing over East Zayante Road and paralleling it beside Zayante Creek until terminating near the confluence of the two creeks. Camp May-Mac is the former site of the mill, while all of the Lompico Creek basin was the mill's timber tract.

Citations & Credits:
  • Clark, Donald Thomas. Santa Cruz County Place Names: A Geographical Dictionary. Scotts Valley, CA: Kestrel Press, 2008.
  • Hamman, Rick. California Central Coast Railways. Otter B Books, 2002.
  • Whaley, Derek. Santa Cruz Trains: Railroads of the Santa Cruz Mountains: 111-114.

2 comments:

  1. I've been wondering about Union Mill ever since I got Hammon's book and looked at his maps. There's a great parcel map from the 1890s that shows the Union Mill parcel as located on the west side of the ridge that divides Lompico and Zayante creeks (http://www.historicmapworks.com/Map/US/1597521/Santa+Cruz+County+1889+Wall+Map/Santa+Cruz+County+1889+Wall+Map/California/).

    It is a strange place to situate a mill however because that hillside is quite steep. I had assumed the mill was located on the flats to the west of Lompico creek, but instead, the parcel runs up the ridge with Lompico creek as its western boundary.

    Considering the geography of the area, the most level place to run a spur line would be to follow Zayante School Rd down to the creek and then it probably ran along E. Zayante Rd to the mill. I can't imagine them building trestles or digging cuts for such a minor spur line. Based on Hammon's book, it looks like it was a narrow gauge spur, right?

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  2. Thanks for the link, Lawrence. I have taken a screen capture of the section and placed it above. I think you missed the small segment of U.M. & L.C. land located on the west bank of Lompico Creek, however. Still, very helpful in identifying the locations of things. I'm still not entirely sure where the actual spur was located, but Hamman suggests it crossed the creek, probably just south of the confluence of the creeks which is perhaps why the Union Mill owns land south of it. It was definitely narrow gauge, and I don't think it supported actual engines, only horse-drawn flatcars like the Powder Mill spur.

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