|Western Beet Sugar refinery, c. 1900, with the turntable and engine house at left. (Bancroft Library)|
|1892 Sanborn map showing the entirety of the Western Beet Sugar Company refinery. (UCSC Digital Collections)|
|1892 Sanborn map of the Watsonville Creamery & Cattle |
Company's facility and railroad stop (UCSC Digital Collections)
|The refinery, in dark contrast and possibly showing more signs of color in its paint scheme, c. 1897.|
|The refinery on a busy day, c. 1895. (California State Railroad Museum)|
|The refinery in its final years, c. 1897. (National Museum of American History)|
Official Railroad Information:
As a freight stop along a private spur, the Southern Pacific Railroad did not note the refinery on any of its official documentation. However, the Pajaro Valley Consolidated Railroad, which had its northern terminus at the refinery, simply called the factory "Watsonville Terminal" from 1899 to 1928. It was located 27.2 miles from the Spreckels factory near Salinas via a long circuitous route following the coast until the track reached the Salinas River, at which point it followed the river inland. The terminus included a turntable, three-stall engine house, a water tower, and a total 7-car capacity for loading product cargoes for shipment out on the main Southern Pacific line.
Geo-Coordinates & Access Rights:
The site of Spreckels Beet Sugar Refinery remains an active industrial area and the original spur built in 1888 for Spreckels still cuts through the heart of this block. Numerous businesses now sit on either side of the spur, including Del Mar Seafoods, Crop Production Services, Tomich Brothers Seafoods, Better Brand Foods, Auto Care Towing, and Terminal Freezers. Of the tracks that once ran through the block, only two remain and neither are in use. A single track runs to the north of Watsonville Station paralleling Walker Street before splitting just before the crossing over Kearney Street Extension. The track now only splits where before it forked multiple times to service the many businesses in the area. The northern fork caters to Terminal Freezers, ending at the end of their building, while the southern fork disappears under gravel behind Auto Care Towing. From Google Maps, it is clear that the track once continued onward to the end of the block, with one spur once crossing the slough along a still-existing fill. A remnant track still parallels Walker Street on the west side for quite a distance longer, while hints of other now removed spurs can be seen throughout the district. Access to this area is restricted to employees of the various companies, although much of the trackage can be viewed from public streets.
Citations & Credits:
- "Pajaro Valley Consolidated Railroad". Monterey County Historical Society, 2010.
- Sanborn Map Collection, University of California, Santa Cruz, Digital Map Collections, 1886 - 1920.
- "The Western Beet Sugar Company". Santa Cruz County History – Making a Living. Santa Cruz Public Libraries.
- "Western Beet Sugar Company factory, Watsonville, California". America on the Move. National Museum of American History.