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Friday, February 10, 2017

Stations: Petersen

Perhaps one of the most ephemeral stops along the Pajaro Valley Consolidated Railroad was Petersen, located just to the south of the Pajaro River in Monterey County. The stop, situated exactly one mile from Watsonville station, was named after Jens N. Petersen*, a local entrepreneur and one half of Petersen & Porter of Watsonville. Petersen was born in Denmark on May 11, 1873, and immigrated to the United States in 1892 and worked for the railroad for a year before settling in the Pajaro Valley. This means that the stop named after him did not appear until, at earliest, 1893, and probably much later. It is most likely that Petersen station only appeared in 1910 when Petersen purchased 400 acres of land that he called Valley Rancho. On this parcel, he operated a joint farm and ranch for six years before joining with John T. Porter and moving into the foothills, where they jointly ran a 3,000 acre stock-grazing ranch.

Thus, Petersen stop probably only existed between 1910 and 1916, during which time it undoubtedly rotated in sugar beets as one of its regular crops, considering the demand and the dominance of Claus Spreckels in the region. The spur at Petersen consisted of a short, 8-car track that most likely exited to the north to facilitate easy transfer to the Southern Pacific track at Watsonville. That station may have remained on timetables after 1916, but whether it was used by later residents is unknown. Petersen appears to have sold his property in 1916 and his daughters do not appear to have inherited it from him. Petersen died on November 12, 1961 and is buried at the Pioneer Cemetery in Watsonville.

* Note: Petersen's name is variously spelled "Petersen" or "Peterson" in both contemporary and modern records.

Geo-Coordinates & Access Rights:
~37.899˚N, 121.756˚W

The precise location of Petersen cannot be determined since all evidence of the stop has been erased by the building of the Pajaro River levee and farming on the station site. It seems most likely to have been located within the parcels to the south of the river if one were to follow the end of Harvest Drive (the former Pajaro Consolidated Railroad right-of-way) over the river. This would place it betweenJackson's Refrigeration station on Trafton Road and the river. All of this land is now private property and trespassing is discouraged. There is no evidence of the railroad or station remaining on the site.

Citations & Credits:

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