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Friday, May 31, 2013

Zayante Creek Trestle

Map showing location of Zayante Creek Trestle
beside Graham Hill Rd. (Courtesy Duncan Nanney)
Once prominent on the drive between Old Felton and Felton Depot along Graham Hill Road sat the Zayante Creek Trestle, located immediately west of Felton Depot beside the Felton Grove baseball park (current Felton Bible Church). The original narrow-gauged trestle was constructed probably beginning in July 1883 immediately after approval for the Boulder Creek Branch of the South Pacific Coast Railroad. The bridge crossed Zayante Creek at a point that is now immediately beside Graham Hill Road, though in 1883 Graham Hill Road does not appear to have crossed the creek, instead turning into modern-day Mount Hermon via Roaring Camp Road. Any photographs of this earlier trestle seem to have disappeared and conclusions concerning its design can only be guessed at. Considering the speed at which the original Boulder Creek Branch was built and the funds available to the South Pacific Coast Railroad, it is likely that the trestle was a simple and standard wooden design with support poles installed in the creek bed.

A woman standing on the new Graham Hill Road Bridge around 1930. The trestle, raised above the
level of the road, is clearly visible behind her with telephone wires spanning overhead.
The western cement curb with the date "1917" printed on both ends of it.
The Southern Pacific took over the route in 1887 but the trestle probably didn't change for another 30 years. At some point during this period, a second branch line was routed to Old Felton via a trestle built beside Felton Grove and the Felton Covered Bridge. Thus, the Zayante Creek Trestle now brought rail traffic from both branch lines. It is possible that a new trestle was installed in the mid-1900s when the line was broad-gauged, but evidence suggests otherwise. The trestle was definitely replaced in 1917, as date stamps on the surviving portions of the structure attest to that year. A cement pillar was installed in the creek for support and a cement curb was placed on the west bank. The east bank, instead of having a similar cement curb, had an extended causeway that was supported by short wooden poles until reaching a terminus at a wooden curb. Why this was done is unknown. At least two photographs of this second trestle survive.

Modern water conduit, looking east, over Zayante Creek, using the cement support pillar to support the pipe. 
Although service to Felton ended in the mid-1920s, the trestle remained in use until around 1934 when the Boulder Creek Branch was closed, at which point the bridge was removed. The cement pillar and curb remained to be repurposed to support a water main.

The eastern curb of the Zayante Creek Trestle, partially buried and overgrown across from the Mount Hermon Maintenance Shop. The right-of-way picks up immediately to the east of this spot.
Today, all the surviving remnants of the trestle are easily visible from Graham Hill Road. The western cement curb and the cement pillar sit beside the Graham Hill Road bridge that crosses Zayante Creek. The water main still uses both before disappearing under the bridge on the eastern side of the creek. To the east of the bridge, the remnants of the eastern wooden curb are visible across from the Mount Hermon Maintenance Shop driveway. There is a short turn off that heads into ProBuild's parking lot and the wooden curb is visible at the head of it. This turn off is, in fact, the original surviving right-of-way of the Boulder Creek and Felton branches. The right-of-way breaks off suddenly when it reaches the formal ProBuild driveway, which has been filled in over the years to decrease the grade. Roaring Camp Railroads is located directly on the opposite side of this driveway, where the original branch line met up  with the primary Mountain Division tracks.

The right-of-way from the eastern curb looking east toward Felton Depot (Roaring Camp).
The right-of-way as it heads east past the ProBuild driveway and into the Felton Depot property (Roaring Camp).
West of the cement curb in the Felton Bible Church parking lot, the right-of-way continued paralleling Graham Hill Road until it reached Park Avenue, at which point the line split with one paralleling the current Covered Bridge Road (originally simply "County Road") and the other crossing Graham Hill Road and heading north alongside the San Lorenzo River to Boulder Creek. Today, the visible right-of-way to Boulder Creek picks up again just south of Rose Acres off of San Lorenzo Way in Felton.

Western approach, looking east, to Zayante Creek Trestle today, with the western curb visible beside the
Felton Bible Church parking lot. Graham Hill Road is on the left.

1 comment:

  1. With all the SLV traffic and these new stop lights creeping in (Sims Rd and Lockwood Ln), I would love to see these train right of ways converted back to rail use. The bus route 35 is sooooo long through Scott's Valley depot etc. Could you imagine a passenger train from Santa Cruz to Boulder Creek? Oh well.