|USGS Map from 1915 showing Vega Station and Rancho Vega.|
Following the American annexation of California, Juan Miguel Anzar attempted to claim the grant on behalf of his wife, María Antonia Castro, although he died before the grant was approved. His widow died in 1855 and her second husband, Frederick A. McDougal, and her four children by Anzar fought to gain the 4,310 acres, which was finally rewarded to them in January 1864.
|Rancho Vega del Río del Pájaro land grant map, c. 1850. (Bancroft Library)|
When the Southern Pacific Railroad passed through the Coast Range and its foothills between Gilroy and the town of Pajaro in 1871, it passed directly through the center of the Vega Ranch. McDougal and his step-children were able to negotiate as part of the right-of-way agreement a freight and passenger flag-stop on their property which was listed under the name "Vega". The area around Vega and in the hills to the southwest evolved slowly into a small settlement of mostly farmers that used the freight platform at Vega station to ship out their goods. Vega School was located to the northeast of the railroad station along the county road that later became San Juan Road (G11).
The stop was never large and the platform likely disappeared in the early 1900s. A freight spur was installed at the station at around this time measuring approximately 650 feet. Whether there was ever a physical station structure at Vega is unknown, though it seems unlikely considering the flag-stop nature of the stop. A shelter may have existed there. The name Vega stuck around into the 1940s when it suddenly and inexplicably became "Eaton", though the nature of the stop did not change. The new name may have been a reference to Orrin O. Eaton, a local landowner who held a favorable reputation in Monterey County for helping to introduce lettuce to the county in 1917. He also may have owned part of Rancho Vega in the 1950s. Eaton station remained on Southern Pacific timetables as an "Additional Stop" into the 1980s and perhaps as late as 1996, when the railroad company was merged into the Union Pacific.
|Vega School, designed by William Henry Weeks.|
(Monterey Free Libraries)
Official Railroad Information:
Vega was registered as a industrial and passenger flag-stop and spur, 97.1 miles from San Francisco via Gilroy and San José. The station sat on the double-track between Watsonville Junction and Logan. Sometime around World War II, the station was renamed Eaton. The spur was still listed in 1951 as capable of holding 13 cars, giving it an estimated length of 650 feet. As with Vega, Eaton was not listed in timetables but rather sat as an additional stop in a separate table.
Agency books list Vega as a class-A freight stop with a platform located on the right side of the tracks, as oriented from San Francisco. No other services were listed and no depot structure was noted.
Geo-Coordinates & Access Rights:
36˚N 53' 51.506", 121˚W 41' 26.905"
Vega's station was located on the west side of San Miguel Canyon Road. The actual Vega community was slightly to the south along Vega Road in a short hilly section of land.
Citations & Credits:
- "Diseño del Rancho Vega del Río del Pájaro: Calif". Berkeley, CA: Bancroft Library Digital Collection.
- Hoover, Mildred Brooke, et al. Historic Spots in California, 3rd ed. Palo Alto, CA: Stanford University Press, 1966.