|A SP train approaching the wye at Vasona Junction, 1940s|
(Courtesy Los Gatos Public Library)
Vasona Junction did not exist until the Los Altos line was completed in April 1908. That year, 53.4 miles south of San Francisco via Alameda Point, the junction was born. It's completion create a dual-tiered system of gauging distances from San Francisco, with distances now being calculated from the original terminus at Alameda Point and the new terminus in downtown San Francisco, from which Vasona was 48.2 miles south.
|A SP train in the wye at Vasona Junction in 1949. (Courtesy Los Gatos Public Library)|
|A SP train passing through Vasona Junction in 1953. (Courtesy Los Gatos Public Library)|
|A SP engine passing beside prune trees at Vasona Junction, 1955. (Courtesy Los Gatos Public Library)|
|Register booth at Vasona Junction.|
(Courtesy Edward Kelley & Peggy Conaway)
When running trains by telegraph messages, it was pretty common for a train to get the message "Don't pass this place unless train X has already passed there." That's easy if you're on the same track, for you'll see that train go by. What happens if the tracks branch so you wouldn't see it go past?
To answer such questions, railroads kept train register books at stations where trains started and stopped, and at all junctions. Trains passing these places would see a mark on their timetable indicating a train register book, so the train would stop and the conductor would mark down his train, the time he was passing, and his direction. He could also check the register to make sure any trains that had priority over his on the next stretch of track had already gone by.
Usually these train registers were in real stations, but Vasona Junction was stuck out in the middle of the prune orchards, and got so little traffic that the railroad didn't even bother to build a station here. Instead, they built a small booth that sat next to the tracks and contained the train register.
Because of this register book, all passenger trains were required to stop at Vasona Junction, even if no passengers were waiting. Nothing developed around the stop, however, and it remained a prune orchard throughout most of its existence.
|A SP engine in the wye at Vasona Junction, c. 1940s. (Courtesy Los Gatos Public Library)|
Today, as already mentioned, there is nothing really at Vasona Junction except a single length of track that passes through the site. Trains no longer stop there and haven't since the tracks to Los Gatos were removed in 1959. Service to Vasona continued for four more years until January 27, 1964, when the final passenger train stopped at Vasona Junction. During this brief period, Vasona became upgraded into a formal station with a platform and ramp to support commuters that had once used Los Gatos Station or Bulwer. Tracks connecting Vasona to San Francisco via the Mayfield Cut-Off were broken in 1964 between Simla and Alta Mesa for construction of the Foothill Expressway. This spelled the end of Vasona Junction and its place on the former Southern Pacific Railroad main line.
|The right-of-way today at Vasona Junction beside Winchester Blvd.|
The Valley Transit Authority (VTA) has been negotiating an extension of the Silicon Valley light rail to terminate at Vasona Junction, near to the site of the old wye just within the City of Los Gatos-Monte Vista. Currently the "Vasona line" terminates in Campbell. Oddly, the site has been discussed as "Vasona Junction" from the very start, despite no junction actually existing there. Future plans to extend the line all the way into Los Gatos have been stalled due to funding and lack of interest.