|Google Maps satellite view of the entire former freight area.|
The first such company founded beside the railroad tracks was the Watsonville Fruit Dryer & Cannery, located on Beach Road (3rd Street) at the modern-day end of Harvest Drive. The Santa Cruz Railroad Tracks were installed about a half-block away from the packing house and, in response, the company placed a warehouse between the two, allowing it to use the tracks. The company was in operation only from circa 1886 to February 1888 when it fell vacant. The Western Beet Sugar Company purchased the vacant structure around the time that it was erecting its Pajaro Valley Railroad in 1890. A siding that ran on the cannery side of the mainline tracks skirted the edge of the structure on its way to the PVRR passenger and freight depot, located just south of the Southern Pacific Railroad crossing. By 1902 the cannery was gone and the side of the Pajaro Valley Consolidated Railroad depot had tripled in size, taking over much of the old packing company's space.
|Sanborn Map, 1902, showing the Adamson Fruit Company.|
(UCSC Digital Collections)
|The Loma Prieta Lumber Company yard south of the Southern Pacific tracks, 1902|
(Sanborn – UCSC Digital Collections)
|Watsonville Ice & Cold Storage Company facility, 1914, published by Edward H. Mitchell.|
|Original trackside packing houses, 1902. (Sanborn – UCSC Digital Collections)|
|Borcovich & Dragovich advertisement, c. 1920s.|
|Trackside packing houses, 1920. (Sanborn – UCSC Digital Collections)|
It seems very unlikely that Dole ever used the rail services available here since no tracks now pass through their properties (although traces of one remain). What was once a vibrant freight and industrial area at the upper end of Beach Road in Watsonville has now declined to such a point that rail services are not even available for local freight. For this area, at least, the age of rail has ended.
Official Railroad Information:
Freight services are rarely listed in official Southern Pacific Railroad timetables and agency books, but a series of SPINS charts provided by George Pepper shows what was still active in 1973. Unfortunately, this is the only record this author has access to from the SP.
Geo-Coordinates & Access Rights:
Most of these properties are now owned by Dole Food Company which occupies the northern part of West Beach Street from Walker Street to the bend in the road just past Harvest Drive. Harvest Drive was once the right-of-way of the Pajaro Valley Consolidated Railroad and can be used as a reference point. The entire property between Walker Road and Pine Street was the site of the Loma Prieta Lumber Company yard, while the office complex on the south-west corner of Beach and Harvest was the site of the Adamson Fruit Company.
Citations & Credits:
- Google Maps.
- Sanborn Fire Insurance Company maps, 1886 to 1920. UC Santa Cruz Digital Collections.
- Southern Pacific Railroad, SPINS: Watsonville 1973. California State Railroad Museum Collection.