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Friday, July 5, 2013

Glen Arbor Station & Spur

Location of station (Courtesy Duncan Nanney)
Quite possible the most important way-station between Felton and Ben Lomond, the small station at Glen Arbor was a late addition to the Southern Pacific Railroad's line through the area though the original spur probably dates to the turn of the century, many years before the station. Located on the north-east corner of the intersection of Glen Arbor Road and Lorenzo Way, the Glen Arbor Station probably existed between August 1914 and January 1934, though service may have been discontinued to the site prior to the closure of the branch line. The name Glen Arbor is a creation of the subdivision developers who thought to describe the place as "a shady place among the trees."

Glen Arbor Station during the late 1910s looking toward the north-east.
Despite its current notoriety, Glen Arbor was a late addition to the railroad's timetables. In fact, of those railroad timetables available to this author, Glen Arbor as a spur does not appear until August 19, 1923 in an internal Southern Pacific timetable. On that timetable, Glen Arbor is listed as being located 74.7 miles south of San Francisco via the Mayfield Cut-off, 5 mile south of Boulder Creek, and 1.2 miles south of Newell Junction. It's nearest neighbor was Brackney, located only 0.4 miles to the south. Glen Arbor appears again, this time as a stop but not a spur, in the early 1930s as the third of five formal stations on the Boulder Creek Branch. Regrettably, no further information is mentioned on this public timetable and even the dating information for it is incorrect.

Glen Arbor Station hosting a passenger train, as viewed from the Coffee resident that looked directly west down Glen Arbor Drive, late 1910s (Courtesy Bruce MacGregor)
The railroad passed peacefully through the area between Rubottom's Spur and the Newell Creek Mill Junction according to the 1899 Station Book. The term "Glen Arbor" first appears in available public documents in 1912 in deeds issued by the F.A. Hihn Company, though word usage in those deeds suggests the subdivision was already in existence by that date. Donald Clark mentions that on August 12, 1914, a post office was established at the site, probably signaling the start of formal rail service to the area. That post office lasted barely more than a year, closing on November 30, 1915, but the station itself remained in use. As can be discerned from the two photographs above, Glen Arbor had an unusually large, though simple, station. It consisted of a plain square house-like structure with a tall peaked roof with slowly descending awnings. An extended second story allowed room for a covered porch on the track side. 

Site of Glen Arbor Station today. (Courtesy Google Street View)
Sadly, today nothing at all remains of the Glen Arbor Station or really even its right-of-way. A modern home has been built on the site of the station, located just off of Fremont Avenue and facing the opposite direction. The right-of-way through the Glen Arbor area begins above the southernmost part of Fremont Avenue and continues north through and beside private properties until crossing Glen Arbor Road at Schaaf Road, which is actually a driveway. The right-of-way then crosses the road and parallels the impassible Lorenzo Way before turning again into private properties. Interestingly, in the area near the station site, the right-of-way remains overgrown with hedges and and sits on a narrow stretch of unused land. After Lorenzo Way decisively ends about half a mile north of its crossing with Glen Arbor Road, the right-of-way makes its way back to Glen Arbor just north of its junction with Larita Drive. At this point, the right-of-way closely parallels Glen Arbor Road on the western side all the way to Love Creek.

Concerning the spur line that existed at Glen Arbor, it likely became present-day Lorenzo Way for a while longer before terminating a short distance away. Other spur lines may also have been in the area, catering to local farms and related industries. The history of this area is still being researched.

  • Southern Pacific System: List of Officers, Agencies and Stations, 1899.
  • Clark, Donald Thomas, Santa Cruz County Place Names: A Geographic Dictionary (Scotts Valley, CA: Kestrel Press, 2008).


  1. I heard that a railroad went through this area, but never saw any visible evidence. I live on the north end of Fremont.

    1. Yup, you are almost directly across from the old spur that was at Glen Arbor, and between Lorenzo Way and Fremont Ave is where the old station building used to stand. Lorenzo Way is the right-of-way, and then it continues south of there on Schaaf Road (which doesn't actually seem to exist but is on Google Maps) and then continuing south behind the end of Caledonium Ave. Unfortunately, much of the right-of-way south of your house has homes built on it and the access to Brackney is blocked by at least one house. If you got to Brackney, though, there is an old overgrown fire road that is gated on the left near the end of it. This is the right-of-way and it leads to the Glen Arbor area, though it's not a through path anymore. Still, it has a great view of the river.