|A barn building at Wilder Ranch (John Pusey)|
The history of the sidings and spurs enter in 1905 when Deloss deeded fourteen acres of land to the Ocean Shore Railroad under the condition that a siding and flag stop would be maintained on their property. When the Southern Pacific came through later that years, Deloss demanded the same conditions of them, which the SP accepted, and he granted them twenty-seven acres of right-of-way. Thus Deloss had his two sidings, gambling that if one railroad failed, the other would continue to use the right-of-way. Construction of the Ocean Shore began by mid-1905 and by 1906, trains were stopping at Wilder collecting freight and dropping off freight cars. The Coast Line, running behind and damaged by the 1906 earthquake, lagged behind even though its right-of-way was completed. The Coast Line's own track, basically shared in the Wilder region since the SP used the Ocean Shore's contractor, Shattuck and Desmond, finally opened to through traffic in early 1907.
For the Ocean Shore Railroad, the Wilder Siding was located 3.5 miles north of their Santa Cruz Station. For the Coast Line, it was 124 miles from San Francisco via Watsonville Junction and the Mayfield Cut-off. Furthermore, it was 83.4 miles south of San Francisco via Santa Cruz Junction and the Mayfield Cut-off and 7.3 miles south of Davenport. That places it roughly 4.2 miles north of Santa Cruz, but at roughly the same location as the Ocean Shore stop since the Ocean Shore had a more direct line to Wilder. The Coast Line spur included a class C-station with a small platform on the north side of the tracks. The Ocean Shore, on the other hand, had a siding on the south side of the tracks, beside its own right-of-way. Thus the Coast Line had slightly easier access to the dairy property and likely gained more business from the Wilder family because of this. Neither stop had a shelter or building for passengers, though both railroads maintained a formal flag-stop designation for Wilder on timetables.
|Heavily overgrown Wilder Spur beside the Wilder Ranch SHP parking lot. (Google Maps)|
The Wilder family finally sold the property in 1969 with the expectation that it would be converted into a housing subdivision. But after twenty years of property disputes, the State of California finally took it over in 1974 and converted it into Wilder Ranch State Historic Park. Since then, the property has been enlarged with land grants from surrounding areas, stretching all the way up to Bonny Doon. Wilder is expected to be one of the restored stops on the Santa Cruz & Monterey Bay Railway if passenger service is restored on the Davenport branch line in the future.
- Donald Clark, Santa Cruz County Place Names: A Geographical Dictionary (Scotts Valley, CA: Kestrel Press, 2008).
- Jack R. Wagner, The Last Whistle: Ocean Shore Railroad (Berkeley, CA: Howeel-North Book, 1974).