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Friday, October 4, 2013

Lorenzo & Filbert

Topographical map showing Filbert site. (Courtesy Duncan Nanney)

Boulder Creek was not always the sprawling town it is today. When Joseph W. Peery was around in the 1870s, he saw it as two distinct entities. He founded Lorenzo two miles south of the original center of Boulder Creek, then named simply Boulder, which was located across the creek of the same name, now near the foot of Bear Creek Road. Lorenzo briefly became the center of the community when it took control of the town post office in 1875, but it lost that two years later to Boulder. This give and take spelled the death of the community, yet it lingered for a good two decades before the railroad and an devestating fire ensured its demise. 

Lorenzo’s railroad history begins around 1883. The struggling little village tried to convince the South Pacific Coast Railroad to place their northern terminus at Lorenzo, but Boulder Creek simply had more land to offer at cheaper prices. When the Felton & Pescadero Railroad finally did pass through the area two years later, it almost bypassed Lorenzo fully, with the right-of-way sticking close to the river rather than near the town center. A small station built out of an old boxcr was established near the base of what is now River Street to provide locals access to the line. For what it was, it included telegraph services and a passenger agent. The station remained on South Pacific Coast timetables until 1887 when the Southern Pacific Railroad took over and demoted the station to a flag stop. As the 1800s came to an end, Lorenzo slowly degraded into little more than a suburb of the rapidly expanding Boulder Creek. A great fire in 1896 destroyed most of Lorenzo and by 1899, the town name had all but disappeared. Even the name of the station had been changed. All future references to the village would be under the umbrella of Boulder Creek.

L.S. & P. Mill & Tannery, located on J.W. Peery's property in Lorenzo, c. 1880s. (Courtesy UC Santa Cruz)
From the time that Lorenzo was founded until the turn of the century, a shingle and planning mill and tannery was built near the station on property owned by Joseph W. Peery. Lorenzo Flag-Stop itself appears to have been located within the immediate vicinity of the mill. The mill supported a siding, which would explain the class-B freight station status later granted to the station's successor. The Sanborn Fire Insurance map above shows the layout of the buildings in relation to the County Road (later CA State Route 9) and the right-of-way.

Lorenzo’s flag-stop began a new life around 1899 under the name  Filbert. Donald Clark says little about this stop, though he does suggest that the name could be based on the California Hazel Tree, which in Oregon and elsewhere is nicknamed the “Filbert”. However he discounts this, stating that that is not a local name and guessing instead that the name was likely given by the Southern Pacific Railroad or named after a person who lived in the area. The 1899 Station Book gives some details of its arrangement. It was located less than a mile south of Boulder Creek Depot and sported a class-B freight platform which sat on the west side of the tracks.1899SB The purpose of this platform is unknown, though there were certainly local industries that could have used a parked boxcar for pickups. A siding was undoubtedly at the site since it was located directly north of the Filbert Trestle, though the current property lines show no available width for such a siding. A later timetable notes its distance from Boulder Creek as being even closer—barely half a mile—with Harris located a third of a mile south of it.1923E 

People awaiting for a train at Filbert, circa 1900. (Courtesy Valley Press-Banner)
The historic site of the Lorenzo and Filbert flag-stops is likely 164 River Street in south Boulder Creek. The right-of-way loops away from the town at this point and it is at a lower elevation than CA State Route 9. This is the furtherest southern point that the station could have been located, though as an alternative, it may have been at the base of Grove Street, though this would likely place it too close to Boulder Creek Depot. Absolutely no trace of the flag-stop remains, which is not surprising considering no structure appears to have been associated with it. No buildings are on the right-of-way in this area, but all the property is privately owned and not publicly accessible.

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