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Friday, December 20, 2013

Newell Creek Trestle

Annotated Google Map showing trestle and Newell Junction.
As you drive in the San Lorenzo Valley, there are many creeks and streams you will find yourself passing over, usually without notice. One such creek is the small Newell Creek that crosses Glen Arbor Road just east of Newell Creek Road. Named after Addison Newell, a resident previously of Maine, he settled alongside the creek in 1867 where he had a farm. Newell died in 1892. In 1885, the Felton & Pescadero Railroad, a subsidiary of the South Pacific Coast Railroad, had to cross this small creek owned by Newell on its way to Boulder Creek. The trestle was located roughly 75.7 miles south of San Francisco via the Mayfield Cut-off and Felton Junction. It was also 3.5 miles south of Boulder Creek.

The precise location of this trestle was likely immediately south of the auto bridge that currently crosses Newell Creek along Glen Arbor Road. At least two trestles were built on the site, one the original narrow-gauge of the South Pacific Coast and another its successor built by the Southern Pacific Railroad for standard-gauged traffic. No photographs of either trestle seem to have survived, which is not surprising since it was likely unremarkable and not located in a heavily trafficked region.   From all existing evidence, and the fact that no physical evidence remains today at the site, both trestles were constructed out of redwood. A short causeway over the creek and through a low place in the terrain likely connected the eastern curb of the trestle with the western railroad grade.

A small parking area for an adjacent residence on the west, unfortunately, sits in the clearing where the trestle must have passed through and then a thick patch of blackberry bushes covers the area where the trestle likely reconnected with the railroad grade. Access to the east side of the trestle is likewise obscured by thick foliage. The trestle was removed in early 1934 when the Boulder Creek branch was abandoned. The remaining real estate in the area, including the vacated property that once constituted the right-of-way, was quickly sold, obscuring most signs of railroading in the Glen Arbor and Newell Creek areas. That residence is now 9095 Glen Arbor Road, though it is accessed via Railroad Ave. If any evidence of the trestle crossing Newell Creek survives, it is buried in thick and brambly foliage just south of Newell Creek's automobile bridge.

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