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This website is a constant work-in-progress, with articles updated regularly throughout the site. Much of the information comes from local railroad fans such as yourselves. If you have information regarding local railroads, photographs or railroad documents, or you feel a mistake has been made or information omitted from an article, leave a comment on the appropriate page or email me at author@santacruztrains.com. This site would not be possible without your help and support. Thank you! – Derek R. Whaley

Friday, November 10, 2017

Stations: Forest Grove & Eva

Los Gatos Creek near Eva, c. 1907. Photo by
Frank Herman Mattern. [Greg De Santis]
As the route of the South Pacific Coast Railroad ventured up Los Gatos Creek toward Wright, the railroad sought venues where they could host parties and events. At first, they turned to Grove Park in Los Gatos and Alma, but around 1885, H. E. Casey & Company purchased a tract of land on the east bank of Los Gatos Creek near its confluence with Hooker Gulch, possibly as a freight stop. The railroad set up a stop they named "Casey's."

It is unclear how Casey & Co. used the stop but, after the Southern Pacific leased the South Pacific Coast in 1887, W.T. Fitzgerald, general passenger and freight agent for the narrow-gauge sub-division, purchased the portion of Casey's land near Los Gatos Creek for use as a picnic stop for the railroad. In 1889, Casey's was renamed "Forest Grove." The new stop was first used, possibly as a test, in April 1888 by a Presbyterian group visiting from Brooklyn. Over the subsequent decade, the stop became the railroad's primary annual corporate picnic site and hosted thousands of visitors. Presumably a structure of some sort was built at the site that was known as Forest House, most likely a small hostelry, although there appears to be no actual mention of this building in newspapers or railroad advertisements from the period. Eventually, a half-mile-long passing siding was built at the stop to support waiting passenger cars. The opening of the purpose-built Sunset Park picnic area outside of Wright in 1896 signalled the end of Forest Grove as the official Southern Pacific picnic stop in the area.

Los Gatos Creek near Eva, c. 1907. Photo by
Frank Herman Mattern. [Greg De Santis]
W. R. Sterne of Los Angeles purchased the picnic grounds at Forest Grove in 1899. Hooker Gulch was dammed before its confluence with Los Gatos Creek, creating a small seasonal swimming hole. Sterne built beside the lake the Eva Vista Hotel, which signalled the final renaming of the stop to "Eva." H. R. Judah, another passenger agent for Southern Pacific purchased the stop in 1901 and continued expanding the venue. The meadow was converted into a tent city and a restaurant was built to support it.

The San Francisco Earthquake ended Eva's brief stint as a mountain resort. A landslide buried the lake before the start of the summer season and tourist trains did not use the line again until 1909. Just when the tide was changing, a fire leveled the Eva Vista Hotel in 1912. Its twenty-five-year history as a picnic stop came to an inglorious end.

Meanwhile, Casey & Company had sold the lower part of their property but retained mining rights to the upper parts of Hooker Gulch throughout this entire period. Copper was discovered in 1900 and Casey finally began drilling in 1917, five years after Eva had ceased to function as a location for tourism. Despite attempts to mine the hills for copper, gold, and silver, no venture ever succeeded. In 1929, Dr. H. C. Adair began prospecting in the area and found that much of the minerals were mixed heavily with pyrite, making extraction costly and unprofitable. Adair searched for more profitable veins in the late 1930s, discovering a profitable gold vein which he successfully extracted in 1938. But the income was not enough to continue mining the gulch.

A short commuter train passing the former site of Eva, July 9, 1939. [Wilbur C. Whittaker]
Eva was abandoned as a railroad stop in August 1937 and the siding was probably torn up around this time. The only existing photograph of the stop was taken in July 1939, two years after service to the location had ended. With the disastrous storm of February 1940, the line was abandoned and the tracks at Eva were pulled. Nobody lived in the area at that time and its importance to the railroad was forgotten.

Geo-Coordinates & Access Rights:
37.153˚N, 121.960˚W

The location of Eva is now owned by the San Jose Water Company in a severely-overgrown portion of the right-of-way. Access to the site is not restricted, though technically trespassing, but attempting to go to the site is not recommended due to the heavy presence of poison oak in the area.

Citations & Credits: 
  • Oakland Daily Evening Tribune, 1888.
  • Santa Cruz Sentinel, 1888-1903.
  • Whaley, Derek. Santa Cruz Trains: Railroads of the Santa Cruz Mountains. Santa Cruz, CA, 2015.

5 comments:

  1. Wonder if we could ever find the Hooker Creek Mine: it's probably buried under 20 feet of dirt and mud by now....

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  2. Poison oak can be avoided easily if you know what it looks like! Lol

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  3. MROSD is in early talks with SJWC to buy the land in this area. We can only hope. http://www.mercurynews.com/2017/09/28/new-redwood-park-in-santa-cruz-mountains-could-come-from-beall-law/

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  4. Eva is still shown as a flag stop for all passenger trains in the March 21, 1937 Employees Timetable with a siding of a 20 car capacity. Since the Employee and Public Timetables did not always match, it would be interesting to see what was the status of this station through 1940. The Milepost (#60) shown to the right in Wilbur Whittaker's photo can be seen currently on the left wall of the model train layout at the Santa Clara Caltrain station. I found it face down in 1970 on the embankment on the right and donated it to the Los Gatos Historical Museum who eventually sent it on to Santa Clara. They incorrectly describe it there as a "companion board" in other words, there were two boards with the # 60 on it facing in both directions. But in fact, the # 60 was on both sides of the same board and the paint had worn out on one side after years of being exposed to the elements. "60" refers to the distance in miles from San Francisco.

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  5. My grandmothers name was Eva bulmore, father was super in charge of new almaden quick silver mines. I can always think they named it after her.

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