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Friday, August 22, 2014

Folger

The Ocean Shore Railroad was an ambitious project when it began in May 1905. It drew interest from many different crowds, and James Athearn Folger II, the owner of J.A. Folger's Coffee Company, was one such party. As vice president of the Ocean Shore Railway Company in the late 1900s, Folger also had the privilege of having a proposed community named after him.
The original layout of Folger according to a Santa Cruz County assessor's map from 1935.
The proposed street names were all after trees: Redwood at the top, Cypress at the bottom.
The railroad right-of-way was no longer present in 1935 but, oddly, this parcel map survived
the axe of the assessor's office for reasons unknown. The "Coast Road" is Swanton Road.

Located 13.9 miles north of the Ocean Shore depot on Bay Street in Santa Cruz along the Swanton spur, Folger was never destined to exist. The plan for the town was negotiated in 1908 by the Shore Line Investment Company, a companion corporation to the Ocean Shore focused on property development. The property was originally taken from a small portion of Rancho San Vicente. As first envisioned, it was to be just another community along the main line to San Francisco, placed at a convenient wye in the track making it accessible even while not being inundated with regular train traffic. 324 lots were listed for sale in 1908, all of then 25' by 100' in dimensions. But the town never was built and only a few scattered homes ever were built there. The center of the town was near the confluence of Little Creek into Scott Creek. The homes mostly serviced the lumber workers that operated the mill further up the valley. In an ironic twist, it did see its fair share of railroad traffic since the realignment to Swanton meant it was directly on the main line. But the area where Folger was planned remained heavily agricultural and continues to be so today.

Perhaps a more important purpose for this little used platform station was its function as the northern end of the heavily used "Scott-Folger Wye". The wye—a triangular section of track that allows engines and trains to turn around—linked Folger with Scott Junction 0.5 miles south of it. It was used extensively between 1908, when the San Vicente Lumber Company began operations along Little Creek and Scott Creek, and 1923, when that company finished operations in the area and pulled up the track. The wye was also extended into a full spur that year, with regular traffic extended to Swanton 2.1 miles north of Folger. Swanton, thereafter, would serve as the northern terminus for the Ocean Shore, and Folger quickly fell to the wayside as a community.

The site was utilized as a picnic stop for university students in the ensuing years. The University of California (Berkeley) in 1908 was the first to visit when they had a picnic and engineering surveyor's camp for students. In later years, other schools used the site for research with the California State University at San Luis Obispo (CalPoly) currently owning the property and operating it as the Swanton Pacific Ranch. The original site of Folger is along Swanton Road just after it it descends down into Scott Creek's valley. Swanton Road was originally the county road and the properties were plotted between the road and the creek on the west side. A small collection of buildings associated with the ranch are located there, but the remainder is agricultural fields. It is uncertain where exactly the old Ocean Shore right-of-way through the area was since the fields have regularly planted atop it, though the route likely stuck close to the creek where the grade was most level.

Citations:
  • Donald Clark, Santa Cruz County Place Names: A Geographical Dictionary (Scotts Valley, CA: Kestrel Press, 2008).
  • Rick Hamman, California Central Coast Railways (Santa Cruz, CA: Otter B Books, 2002).
  • Al Smith, "The History of Swanton", transcribed July 1990, California State University, San Luis Obispo: Swanton Pacific Ranch, <http://spranch.calpoly.edu/mission.ldml> (Accessed 20 Aug. 2014).

1 comment:

  1. There is a suspicious row of utility poles running from south of Archibald Creek to an area east of
    Scott Creek Beach I have always thought was the likely location of the Ocean Shore roadbed.
    The southern end of this row of poles seems to run right into the roadbed extending east from
    Scott Junction.

    ReplyDelete