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Friday, April 14, 2017

Stations: Jensen

Location of Jensen Siding, 1912. [US Geological Survey]
The history of the stop known simply as Jensen along the Pajaro Valley Consolidated Railroad line is quite mysterious. Undoubtedly named after one of the numerous Danish Jensens that moved to the Pajaro Valley in the 1880s, it is unclear precisely which Jensen occupied this parcel located near the mouth of the Pajaro River in 1890, when the railroad tracks were first installed along the southeast bank of the river. The most likely candidate is a mysterious Dane named Chris (or Christ or Christian) Peter Jensen. Jensen was an unimposing man who first enters records in Watsonville in 1885. He became a US citizen in 1892 and is active in property sales throughout the region a few years afterwards. Although he is never explicitly linked to any property in northern Monterey County, Jensen was the owner of at least one ranch in Corralitos and was closely associated with numerous farm owners from the north Monterey region, suggesting that he may have owned property there. Jensen was also an active member of a number of local societies, including a founding member of the local branch of the National Master Horse-Shoers' Protective Association. As some final evidence of his probable association with Spreckels and the railroad, Jensen is also the inventor of a sugar beet cultivator filed with the patent office in June 1899, alongside James H. Rowe. This places him solidly in the sugar beet industry and suggests that he owned a parcel that produced sugar beets for sale to the Western Sugar Beets factories in Watsonville and, later, Spreckels.

Patent image for sugar beet cultivator invented by C.P. Jensen and J.H. Rowe, 1899.
Little information is known of the stop itself. Satellite views of the site as well as USGS information shows that the stop was located in a sink between two sandy bluffs at a location intersected by the southern border of Rancho Bolsa de San Cayetano. The station was located 21.6 miles from Spreckels and 5.6 miles from Watsonville Depot. The station, the structure for which consisted of a small building beside the tracks, supported a 23-car length siding that ran along the southeastern side of the mainline tracks. These tracks were installed in early 1890 and remained in place until the line was demolished by the Southern Pacific Railroad in 1930. While the stop was undoubtedly used in the early years, it is unclear how long Jensen owned the property and if later owners continued to grow beets there and ship said beets over the rail line.

Chris Jensen was seriously injured at Port Watsonville in 1906 when a riptide dashed him against one of the piles of the pier there, although he apparently recovered. His ultimate date of death is not known. The patent filing shows as a witness Julius C. Jensen, a man also referenced in the early 1900s as a Watsonville resident and a likely relative of Chris.

Geo-Coordinates & Access Rights:
36.855˚N, 121.804˚W

The site of Jensen station is now occupied by an open field that sits alongside the Pajaro River beyond the end of Jensen Road. The right-of-way in this area has mostly eroded into the river itself, although traces of it remain and can be seen from Google Maps satellite imagery. Nothing survives of the stop itself and the property is currently privately owned.

Citations & Credits:
  • Fabing, Horace W., and Rick Hamman. Steinbeck Country Narrow Gauge. Pruett, 1985.
  • Santa Cruz Sentinel (Morning and Weekly), 1885-1930.

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