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Friday, February 22, 2013

Bulwer Flag-Stop

Location of Bulwer (top of Vasona Reservoir).
(Courtesy Duncan Nanney)
An extremely late entry into the Southern Pacific's Mountain Route dossier was the small flag stop near Vasona Junction called Bulwer. Henry Bender states that it was located 53.7 miles south of San Francisco via Los Altos. Established November 11, 1924, the stop only lasted until August 1, 1938. In all likelihood, the stop was built for commuter traffic in an age when automobiles were quickly outpacing trains as a means of getting to work. It location between Winchester Blvd. and University Ave. at Lark Ave. in Los Gatos reinforces this belief.

A March 21, 1937, internal timetable mentions the stop as being the first stop along an automatic block system, which regulated the trains that operated over the mountains. Unlike Bender's source, the timetable claims that the station was 52.1 miles south of San Francisco, presumably also via Los Altos, suggesting a possible shortening of the route since the 1920s. Public timetables throughout this period did not include Bulwer as a stop. Prior to 1924, there was no stop between Los Gatos and Vasona Junction.

Today, the site is a parking lot, though the right-of-way passes down the middle of it between sets of buildings. There are no known photographs of the stop and nothing has been said of its name or its proven purpose. It is possible the site is named after Edward Bulwer-Lytton, 1st Baron Lytton, a famous Victorian author who coined many famous phrases, the most famous of which was "It was a dark and storm night..." Trains continued to pass through Bulwer after the flag stop closed until 1959.

  • Henry E. Bender, Jr. "SP San Jose to Santa Cruz (ex-South Pacific Coast Ry.)" (2013).

1 comment:

  1. Hi Derek! I have the Coast Division Timetable
    # 144 for 3-21-37. The Automatic Block Signal
    System you speak of did not begin at Bulwer but
    extended all of the way from San Jose to Santa
    Cruz. You will find the San Jose- Vasona Jct.
    segment of ABS listed separately on page 14.
    There was no ABS between Mayfield (Palo Alto) and
    Vasona Jct. ABS was STILL intact San Jose -
    Vasona Jct. in 1959 according to TT # 178 of
    9-27-59 but gone by 1963. Duncan Nanney