|Railroad Exchange Hotel across from the depot, 1931. (Adi Zehner)|
|San Monte Fruit Company company photo, c. 1905. (Adi Zehner)|
|Simpson & Hack fruit packing plant with a boxcar parked beside it, c. 1905. (Adi Zehner)|
|Patrons along Walker Street between Beach Road|
and 2nd Street, 1920 (UCSC Digital Collections)
|Alaga Bros. packing house beside Walker Street, c. 1910s. (Adi Zehner)|
|Ortho California Spray Chemical Company plant beside the railroad track, c. 1910. (Adi Zehner)|
|Southern Walker Street just before|
the Pajaro River, 1908.
(UCSC Digital Collections
Between 1911 and 1920, a massive extension spur extended down Walker Street, across Kearney, and to places never before reached by the railroad. At the northern terminus of the spur, on the west side of Walker Street, the railroad reached an unnamed fruit packing company owned by Chinese. The property stretched down Ford Street with housing for workers out back. The primary spur, which ran down the eastern side of Walker Street, terminated at the Stolich Bros. fruit packing warehouse. Just south of it, opposite 5th Street, the tracks also ran beside L.F. Lettis's fruit packing house.
|SPINS map from 1973 for the Walker Street and Beach Road (Wall Street) spurs. (George Pepper)|
Official Railroad Information:
Considering the entire Walker Street track was a private freight area, only Southern Pacific zoning maps such as the SPINS used above from 1973 document official railroad information for the region. Timetables and agency books record nothing of this except for the depot. Another SPINS from 1998, two years after the Union Pacific takeover of the line, helps clarify the situation at the end of the millennium.
Geo Coordinates & Access Rights:
From 36.903˚N, 121.755˚W to 36.911˚N, 121.767˚W
Although all of the properties today remain private businesses, closed to the public, the tracks themselves are quite visible across Walker Street. Virtually all of the spurs present in 1973 remain in place, some paved over but many partially visible. The mainline track still runs directly down the middle of the road and is occasionally used by the Santa Cruz & Monterey Bay Railway. All of the spurs along the street are now spiked and their junctions removed, so there is little chance any will be reactivated again. However, many of the original 1910s warehouses and structures remain in place along the road, giving a further snapshot of what the freight district probably looked like back in the 1920s.
Citations & Credits:
- Sanborn Fire Insurance Company maps, 1888 – 1920. UC Santa Cruz Digital Collections.
- Southern Pacific Company, SPINS "Watsonville Jct." 1973. George Pepper collection.
- Zehner, Adi. "Remembering Watsonville..." Group Facebook photos and commentaries.