Author Statement

If you have information on local railroads, photographs or railroad documents, or you feel a mistake has been made or information omitted from an article, email me at This site would not be possible without your help and support. Thank you! – Derek R. Whaley

Friday, June 21, 2013

Rubottom's Spur

Rubottom—an entry in the most unfortunate surnames in America—had the added privilege of also lending its unusual family name to the Rubottom's Spur, located along the Southern Pacific Railroad's Boulder Creek Branch (formally the Felton & Pescadero Railroad) between Felton and Ben Lomond.

E.J. Rubottom and Will Glass, two relatives
and friends who journeyed together during
the Yukon Gold Rush. (From
Named after Emphrey Jones Rubottom, very little is known about the small spur located on the eastern side of the San Lorenzo River north of Glen Arbor. The man Rubottom was settled in the area according to F.A. Hihn records by at latest 1889 and was in partnership with John A. Rountree, who was a close half-relative. By 1890, Rubottom and Rountree were operating a shingle mill somewhere in the valley, though their earlier property was in Felton rather than the Glen Arbor area. Edward T. Rountree, in his commentary on Bruce MacGregor's South Pacific Coast, notes that Rubottom was a blacksmith and had invented a special type of plow (patented in 1904) that could be used to build roads.  He also patented two random inventions related to brewing beer. Rubottom was also a member of the Santa Cruz County Board of Supervisors. According to, he died in 1913 in San Luis Obispo, CA.

According to the 1899 Station Book, Rubottom's Spur was found 2.1 miles north of Felton and 1.1 miles south of Newell Creek (Newell Junction). It hosted a class "B" freight station, meaning at least one freight siding, as well as a spur of indeterminate length heading presumably into E.J. Rubottom's property. No other services were noted at the site. Judging from the geography of the region, it is extremely likely that the spur line was on the west side of the tracks, since a continuous hillside dominates the east side.

Comparative data suggests that Rubottom's Spur may have been located at Brackney, prior to the development of that area by the Brackney family at the turn of the century. This theory, though, presents problems, namely that Alonzo Brackney appears to have settled in the area at approximately the same time. Alternatively, Rubottom's Spur may have been located at the extreme southern end of the Glen Arbor area above the bend in the river where today a disjointed housing community thrives. As one final possibility, though less likely, the spur may have crossed the river just north of Brackney and settled within the western loop of the San Lorenzo River. In any case, the absolute location of the site seems to have been lost. According to Donald Clark, only a single atlas pointed to the site, Crams Superior Reference Atlas of California, Nevada and the World (George Franklin Cram: Chicago, 1908). This book is not currently available to this author, though a copy resides in the UC Santa Cruz collection.


  • Clark, Donald Thomas. Santa Cruz Place Names: A Geographical Dictionary. (Scotts Valley, CA: Kestrel Press, 2008).
  • Rountree, Edward T. "A Commentary on the book 'SOUTH PACIFIC COAST' by Bruce A. MacGregor" (Santa Cruz, CA: University Library, 1974).
  • "Will Glass / E J Rubottom Photo", Glass Family Highlights <> (Accessed 18 June 2013).

1 comment:

  1. Well this mystery needs to be solved ! Do you hear me UCSC LIBRARY ?