Author Statement

If you have information on local railroads, photographs or railroad documents, or you feel a mistake has been made or information omitted from an article, email me at author@santacruztrains.com. This site would not be possible without your help and support. Thank you! – Derek R. Whaley

Friday, August 24, 2018

Maps: Virginia to Mount Hermon

The Zayante Creek basin was largely an industrial area for the South Pacific Coast and Southern Pacific Railroads. Covering approximately 5 miles of trackage between Tunnel #4 under Mountain Charlie Road and Felton Depot near the confluence of Zayante Creek into the San Lorenzo River, most of this section of track went through heavily timbered but little-inhabited terrain. The upper half of this route catered to two logging companies and a single mountaintop resort. Only one station, Meehan, was even accessible to residents in the area. Along the west bank of Zayante Creek, a long crudely-built narrow-gauge line meandered up the creek from Meehan to the mill of the Santa Clara Valley Mill & Lumber Company at the bottom of Mountain Charlie Gulch. South of the short Tunnel #5, however, the environment was entirely different. Dark forests opened onto rolling meadows and crumbling sand hills. Three different sand quarrying operations ran in the area, while two more lumber firms logged the remaining timber up feeder creeks. Resorts popped up all along Zayante Creek, accessing the railroad at Eccles, Olympia, Mount Hermon, and Felton. Most of this trackage remains even today, due to the persistence of quarrying efforts south of Eccles. Although all of these communities have been annexed to the Felton township further to the south, the hearts of these communities remain, scattered beside and below the railroad right-of-way that initially gave them life.
West portal of Tunnel #3, 1941.
[Margaret Koch – Museum of Art & History]
Storm damage on tracks near Tank Siding, 1940.
[Bruce MacGregor]
Map of Southern Pacific trackage between the Mountain
Charlie Tunnel and Felton, c. 1905-1965.
 [US Geologic Survey, 1902, 1919, and 1965 maps]

Derailment along right-of-way, c. 1920.
[Margaret Koch – Museum of Art & History]
Swimmers in pool at Lompico Park, 1959.
[Lompico Community Center]
Forde's Rest at Olympia, c. 1920.
[Santa Cruz Public Libraries]

Narrow-gauge right-of-way, c. 1905.
[San Lorenzo Valley Museum]
Mount Hermon grounds, c. 1920.
[Mount Hermon Association]
Storm damage near Olympia, 1940.
[Bruce MacGregor]
Workers upgrading the Zayante Creek bridge
near Felton Depot, c. 1917. [SLV Museum]

Mount Hermon Depot, 1920s.
[Mount Hermon Association]

7 comments:

  1. Am I missing something, or isn't the nuclear vault tunnel absent from the map above? -Craig

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    Replies
    1. It is Tunnel #5, just at the midway point on the map.

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  2. I miss the photo of the Santa Cruz bound train arriving at Mount Hermon - the one with the dust and frantic baggage handlers. (I also miss the classic Boulder Creek photo with the narrow-gauge (Porter locomotive) ready to leave.)

    I saw a 1939 photo of the Mount Hermon Station and it was all boarded up. The patios (with their pergolas) and the sign atop the roof remain, but no windows were showing on the west or south sides.

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    Replies
    1. Because of have so many photos of Mount Hermon, I decided to only include photos on my site that do not appear in either of my books. It allows for maximum dispersion of photos without redundancy or cluttering pages (which is the only way I can describe the older Mount Hermon articles).

      The 1939 boarded up photo is from Wilbur Whittaker and has a few girls sitting under the patio. I have that photo but I haven't posted it anywhere yet.

      Delete
    2. Mount Herman Station photo:

      It is an uncredited photo I saw in a book that I have only limited access to: 'Southern Pacific Depots of California, Volume 1' by Stephen M. Hayes. This book has many Wilber Whittaker photos (but only a few from the locations that this site covers), and one by his father, C. D. Whittaker, of the Brookdale station. The Mount Herman photo has no people in it.

      W. Whittaker is credited for taking a 1939 photo of the Glenwood Station while it too was boarded up. The book gave me my first look at the Seaside passenger shelter and a 1939 shot of Alma as a private residence with drapes in the windows and a car out back. The Seaside shelter must be from a company blueprint, since I saw a photo of an identical structure at Tennant, California.

      Many photos from the Brandt Collection appear in these pages.

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  3. Olympia photo:

    "East Olympia facing west at slideout" - I guess that means were on the east side of the creek looking along the route in the direction of San Francisco (or 'west' according to the railroad).

    Someone else will have to tell us why another siding has signal protection; my understanding of the early ABS system is that miles of space was needed between sidings equipped with sets of entrance/exit semaphores. While they might work for trains following one another, the proper setup of advance and trailing signals are half of the system, and now we have no space left.

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    Replies
    1. As I said in an earlier post somewhere, this specific section between Glenwood and Felton had so many sidings and spurs that the signals were everywhere. I have no idea how they could have been used to direct trains since they were so close together, but one must remember that the trains were going only about 25 mph along this stretch. Trains also did not share this line – they were scheduled so they would not pass each other except at key locations like Los Gatos, Glenwood, and Felton, which all had long passing sidings for such operations. Laurel ended up having long passing sidings too, but that was probably more for parking lumber cars than for actually passing trains. There were also parking sidings at Alma, Wrights, Zayante, Meehan, and Olympia, all of them used primarily for excursion trains.

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