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Friday, December 5, 2014

Ready

The Loma Prieta Branch of the Southern Pacific Railroad north of Aptos had gone through highs and lows by the 1910s when it was once again in use as a full-time lumber right-of-way. The communities around the Loma Prieta Mill had long since disappeared but the tracks remained behind and the Loma Prieta Lumber Company reactivated the abandoned mill and resumed logging operations in the area in 1917.

Quite a ways south of these operations and about 1.8 miles above Aptos, a new spur was installed that went by the name "Ready" since it sat on lands owned by Ruth Ready, daughter of Tessie Hihn Hall, and a granddaughter of Frederick A. Hihn. Some records alternatively title the spot "Hihn Spur", though that name has been used elsewhere along the line. The spur was used by the Loma Prieta Lumber Company, which the Hihn Company partially owned, to access a new mill built on the east side of the tracks. Unlike other operations in the area, the primary purpose of this small mill was to cut split stuff, railroad ties, and small-scale lumber.

Ready first appeared in Southern Pacific Railroad agency books in January 1918 at 114 miles from San Francisco via Watsonville Junction. It was recorded as having a class-B freight station, though it did not have a loading platform. This was probably because the loading was all done directly at the adjacent mill so no platform was required. The class-B, therefore, implies simply that there is a spur at the site. It remained unchanged in agency books until the branch was abandoned in 1928. Unfortunately, its history in timetables, if there were any, is not available to this historian at this time.

The operations at Ready were relatively short-lived. The Loma Prieta Company abandoned its Aptos Creek operations after the 1920 logging season. Ready and its mill may have continued in use for part of the next year due to it being the closest stop to Aptos and having a small-scale mill on site. However, by 1921, the site was definitively closed and it was no longer mentioned in timetables or agency books.

The site of Ready today is just before the first crossing over Aptos Creek along the Aptos Creek Fire Road, which also serves as the entry road in to the Forest of Nisene Marks State Park. A pull-out on the east side of the road still marks the site of the spur and the mill, with the road itself marking the site of the Southern Pacific right-of-way through the area.

Citations:

  • Donald Clark, Santa Cruz County Place Names: A Geographical Dictionary (Scotts Valley, CA: Kestrel Press, 2007).
  • Rick Hamman, California Central Coast Railways (Santa Cruz, CA: Otter B Books, 2002).

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