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Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Harris Trestle (SLR Trestle #6)

North of Brookdale along the right-of-way, the tracks crossed the San Lorenzo River three times before reaching the Harris flag-stop. Just south of Harris, this trestle stretched across the river, the sixth to do so on the Boulder Creek branch and eighth on the entire line.

Built by the Felton & Pescadero Railroad (a South Pacific Coast subsidiary) in 1885, the original narrow-gauged trestle likely passed through this site via a redwood-pier trestle. This was deconstructed leaving no remains at the turn of the century when the Southern Pacific Railroad built a trestle able to support broad-gauged tracks and equipment.  No extant photographs of the physical trestle appear to exist, but it can be assumed that the bridge was built by the American Bridge Company, probably using a prefabricated steel span bridge. Whatever was used, it rested on two tall concrete piers similar in style to those used throughout the entire Coast Division. Short redwood-pier causeways likely linked the prefabricated bridge to concrete curbs that were undoubtedly on each bank of the river. The bridge was removed in early- to mid-1934 after the route was closed.

The remnants of this trestle are some of the most visible with the naked eye in the Santa Cruz Mountains. Traveling along Irwin Way, one can see this trestle from the left of the bridge that crosses the river. The right-of-way on the south bank crossed Irwin Way before heading toward Huckleberry Island, and it is quite visible from the road. On the opposite side, two homes sit on the right-of-way before it turns into a private driveway (though the land is public). Whether the two curbs or remnant pilings still exist is not known at the moment, but evidence of them surely exists on closer examination. Both sides of the trestle sit on private property but are easily accessed.

Harris Trestle as viewed from the Irwin Way auto bridge. Trestle is as viewed looking north.
Viewing the Harris trestle looking south from near the site of Harris Flag-Stop.
A closeup of the southern bridge pier's foundation, showing strange construction imprints.

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