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Thursday, July 2, 2015

Prattco

Prattco Spur as shown on a 1948 USGS Map.
In the years just after the end of World War I, activity in the area of East Monterey, modern-day Seaside, was on the rise. It was in this environment that Clarence "Sandy" Pratt established his Pratt Rock and Gravel Company sand quarry on the beach along a spur of the Southern Pacific Railroad's Monterey Branch.

Prattco began operations in East Monterey in 1921 where it ran a single-pit quarry on the beach, nestled between two small sand dunes that still sit there today. The original quarry was serviced by a short 5-car spur that ran alongside the main track with the freight platform situated between them. In the early 1940s, the spur was lengthened considerably, running between the dunes and toward the Monterey Bay 750 feet. This length apparently was too long and it was shortened slightly, to 640 feet, by 1954. While no formal station structure was located there except for the platform, the station did accept passengers and even occasionally had scheduled service. Its location close to Fort Ord Village likely made it a closer stop for some local residents.

In 1950, Prattco was purchased by Pacific Cement & Aggregates, Inc., which used the sand from this quarry for concrete, blasting powder, and stucco. PCA scraped medium-grain sand off the beach and the dunes for processing on site, where it is sorted and blended. Lone Star Industries, Inc., a major aggregate supplier on the Central Coast, eventually purchased all of PCA, including the Prattco plant. Lone Star continued to use the quarry for many more years, with it finally shutting down at the end of 1986. The spur was spiked at some point soon afterwards and it is unclear if the tracks still sit, although aerial imagery shows the path of the spur. Regardless, Prattco remained on timetables until the abandonment of the Monterey Branch in 1999.

Official Railroad Information:
Google Maps satellite view of the Prattco spur today. The spur is gone, as is
its switch, but the imprint of it can still be seen in the sand dunes.
Prattco first appeared in agency books in the late 1910s. It was recorded as having a class-C freight station, including a short platform. Employee timetables reported in the 1930s that Prattco was located 122.1 miles from San Francisco via Castroville, Gilroy, and San José. In addition, it was 6.2 miles from 7.9 from the Lake Majella end-of-track. Both passenger and freight services were offered at the stop, although the station was primarily a freight stop for the Pratt Company. A 5 carlength spur (~250 feet) was installed at some point and lengthened into a 15 carlength (~750 feet) spur in the 1940s. It was reduced to its final length of 640 feet around 1954. The station was demoted to an "Additional Station" in the 1940s but returned as a regular stop in 1963. Freight service to the station persisted after the end of passenger service, only formally ending with the closure of the branch in 1999.

Geo-Coordinates & Access Rights:
36.62˚N, 121.84˚W

The site of Prattco is in Sand City just to the right of the Fremont Boulevard southbound exit of State Route 1. The Monterey Peninsula Recreation Trail passes beside the site, as well. Access to the site is ambiguously restricted, but a lack of development in the area suggests trespassing is not discouraged. The old Prattco road, now covered in sand, can be found at the northern end of Fremont Boulevard.

Citations & Credits:

1 comment:

  1. Actually, Prattco remained as a listing under "additional stations" from at least 1940 through
    the last employee's timetable I have from 1990. In 1940, it was also listed separately from
    the main timetable as a flag stop for local Trains 190-191. As far as I can determine, Prattco
    was never a flag stop for the Del Monte which had fewer stops and flag stops in general.

    ReplyDelete