Thursday, February 15, 2024

Sources: Evolving Terminology

Everything is not always as it seems, and this is certainly the case when researching history. From changing colloquialisms to evolving definitions to extinct words, there is a wide range of linguistic obstacles someone may run into in their research—even when the history is relatively recent and in English! Language changes and that is something every researcher needs to always keep in mind.

The Hotel Lyndon across North Santa Cruz Avenue from the South Pacific Coast Railway's passenger depot, ca 1905. The tracks of the San Jose and Los Gatos Interurban Railway pass directly to the right of the hotel. [Los Gatos Public Library – colorized using MyHeritage]

Researchers of railroads and Santa Cruz County history will encounter many different terms from the wide variety of sources that are available to them, and it is important that the definitions of these terms are clear. Some are relatively straightforward but used inconsistently, while others are very different than they appear. Thus, this article will help break down some of the common terms railroad and local historians may find in order to help them in their future research. New terms with evolving meanings will be added to this list as needed.


railway / railroad / road: Some terms are a matter of change over time, while others are a matter of specificity. Here, though, it is simply a matter of taste.

  • Railways developed in the United Kingdom in the early nineteenth century. They then were introduced in the United States, beginning on the East Coast. The term mostly stuck and even today, railway generally refers to British, Commonwealth, or East Coast companies. When it appears in the names of West Coast companies, an East Coaster or Brit is almost always to blame. It is often abbreviated as "RW" or "Rwy."
  • In contrast, the term railroad evolved mostly on the West Coast as a regional variant of the name and then spread back east. Early company registers and newspapers sometimes spelled the term "rail road" or "rail-road," but there is no functional or legal distinction between the terms and they have been interchangeable since the very beginning. It is usually abbreviated to "RR."
  • Frustrating in its simplicity, the term road is the oldest in relation to railroads and railways and can refer to either or any other vehicular thoroughfare. While few railroad companies neglected to include "rail" somewhere in their name, newspapers especially had no qualms about leaving off this pertinent detail, leaving many to confusion when reading primary sources. Road, importantly, can refer to railroads, railways, highways, backroads, or city streets.
Boulder Creek depot with people milling around, ca 1900. [UC Santa Cruz – colorized using My Heritage]

stop / station / depot: There is a lot of confusion around these three terms and they are often used interchangeably. However, there are differences.

  • stop refers to any place that a train may stop, official or unofficial, regardless of the services offered at the location. Thus, a stop may include registered and unregistered flag-stops, freight stops including spurs and sidings, or former stations that still retain a small clientele.
  • A station on the other hand is an officially-registered stop that appears on a public timetable, an employee timetable, and/or in a station book. Station status does not confer any formal need for trains to stop at the location—that is determined by timetables and customer needs—but it recognizes a formal relationship between the railroad company and the stop, and in many places, a government recognition of the stop as well. This means that a railroad usually has to petition the state government to abandon a station, whereas this is not necessary for all types of stop.
  • A depot is a term that specifically refers to a structure at a stop (usually a station) where tickets can be sold to customers and/or freight can be transferred. Strictly speaking, a depot can exist where there is no longer a stop, as happened at the Santa Cruz Union Depot after 1940. Depots can be small or large, but generally feature a freight-storage and/or luggage-storage space and seats for passengers, when applicable. Smaller ticket offices and passenger shelters are not technically depots, but sometimes are included under this term. 
The trestle bridge over Shady Gulch, overlooking the California Powder Works, 1895. [UC Santa Cruz – colorized using MyHeritage]

bridge / trestle / truss: Not all railroad bridges are trestles, not that the common person would know this from common parlance. The term trestle and bridge have become synonymous over the past century even though railroad engineers generally keep the terms separate, for good reason! In reality, there are a lot of types of railroad bridges, and many are of mixed type. Differentiating them is important to historians.

  • A bridge is the term at its broadest definition and means any raised span. It can cross a tiny gully or it can cross a wide river—either way, it is called a bridge. When in doubt, call a bridge a bridge.
  • A trestle, meanwhile, is a bridge constructed using bents and posts arranged under the roadbed in a repeating pattern. The bents and posts can be made of any material, such as steel or concrete, but all of the historic trestles in Santa Cruz County were made of wood. 
  • A truss is a different type of bridge that is usually prefabricated and later moved into place. They often appear as boxes or curved structures with triangular supports redistributing the weight across the superstructure. The right-of-way can either be built on top of the truss—a deck truss—or inside the truss—a through truss. Multiple trusses can also be linked together with piers sitting at anchor points between each span.

Types of truss bridges used in Santa Cruz County. (Derek R. Whaley)

Truss designs also vary heavily across the world. Three variants of the Warren truss-style of bridge dominated the river and creek crossings in the Santa Cruz Mountains. In addition, Howe, Pratt, and Lattice truss bridges could be found over specific spans. Truss bridges are usually named after their original designers and stand apart from each other by how the support beams are arranged. Other common types of bridges found in Santa Cruz County include wood and plate-girder ballast and open deck bridges, which were used heavily for short spans and in more recent years.

Santa Cruz County had many different types of railroad bridges to cross the rivers, creeks, gullies, and gulches, especially along the mountain branches. The following is a brief list of some of those found along the Santa Cruz to Los Gatos route:

  • Golf Course Drive: wood ballast deck
  • Shady / Powder Works Gulch (Highway 9): wood trestle, replaced by wood trestle with two open-deck plate girder spans
  • Coon Gulch / Inspiration Point: wood open-deck Howe truss, replaced by concrete arch half-bridge
  • Big Trees / Henry Cowell (San Lorenzo River): wood trestle with open-deck Warren truss, replaced with wood trestle with lattice through truss, replaced with steel through Warren truss atop one concrete pier with a short plate girder span
  • Mt. Hermon (Zayante Creek): deck plate girder bridge atop two concrete piers
  • Jackass Flats (Zayante Creek): open-deck Warren truss bridge atop two concrete piers with two plate girder spans
  • Los Gatos Creek (Creek Trail): open-deck Warren truss bridge, replaced with plate girder span atop two concrete piers
  • Forbes Mill spur (Los Gatos Creek): wood trestle
Union Traction streetcar no. 24 at the end of track on Woodrow Avenue, 1926. [UC Santa Cruz – colorized using MyHeritage]

horsecar / streetcar / interurban / tramway / cablecar / incline railway: Santa Cruz County has featured a variety of conveyances that rely on rails and this has led to a lot of confusion over the years.
  • A horsecar or rather horse-drawn car is a form of railroad transport where a horse pulls a car or cars along a wood or metal rail. It is the earliest form of railroad and dates back several centuries before the creation of the first self-powered railroad. Santa Cruz County had three horsecar lines: the City Railroad, the Pacific Avenue Street Railroad, and the East Santa Cruz Street Railroad.
  • Streetcars are a more general term that can refer to horse-powered or self-powered railroad systems, though they more generally apply to "traction railroads," i.e., street railroads powered electrically from overhead lines. They are also sometimes called trolley systems in the United States. Santa Cruz County has had a number of traction lines, including the Santa Cruz, Garfield Park & Capitola Railroad, the Santa Cruz Electric Railroad, the Santa Cruz, Capitola & Watsonville Railroad, and the Union Traction Company.
  • Interurban lines rely on heavier-duty traction engines that can run longer distances, sometimes under their own power, though they usually include sections where overhead lines provide direct power. The cars are usually larger and they cater to both rural and urban passengers. Santa Cruz County only had one interurban, the Watsonville Transportation Company (later the Watsonville Railway and Navigation Company), but Los Gatos also featured the more well-known interurban, the Peninsular Railway Company.
  • The term tramway has divergent meanings depending which continent you are on. In British Commonwealth countries, tramway almost always is interchangeable with "trolley" or "streetcar" system, referring to an urban or suburban passenger railway network. In the United States, it has a more limited meaning and usually applies to industries, especially logging. Tramways in this context refer to short tracks where freight can be wheeled from one destination to another, such as lumber from a mill to the lumber yard. Tramways can be quite long, especially if shuttling logs from the forest to a mill, but they are always directly associated with the operations of an industry.
  • Cablecars never graced Santa Cruz County—they are almost exclusive to San Francisco and a few other cities built upon rolling hills. Cablecars, also often called trolleys, are unique in that they get their motive power from underground cables that are always moving. Cablecars latch onto these cables to move and release the cable to stop. All of the cables are run from centralized hubs.
  • Incline railways are another special mode of transportation specific to steep hillsides. Essentially, a car is pulled up or down a hill with a cable attached to an engine located at the top of the incline. When the cable is released, the car descends, and when the cable is pulled, the car ascends. Santa Cruz County featured at least one true incline railroad in the form of the Molino Timber Company's incline, which lowered flatcars full of splitstuff down from China Ridge to alongside Aptos Creek during the mid-1910s. Other inclines related to logging may also have existed in the county, though evidence is scarce. The only remaining incline railway operating in Santa Cruz County today is the privately-owned car run by Shadowbrook Restaurant on Soquel Creek in Capitola.
The F. A. Kilburn docked at the Port Rogers Wharf in Watsonville, ca 1905. [Derek R. Whaley – colorized using MyHeritage]

wharf / pier: A topic of great consternation among some, greater confusion among many, and little importance in the end, yet the question remains: what is the true difference between a pier and a wharf?
  • It must be stated that all of Santa Cruz County's structures for receiving ocean-going ships before 1904 were called a wharf regardless of any official terminology. And this is an important fact to understand. In the context of early California history, the term wharf is the word for pier—the terms are synonymous. Both are structures that jut into the ocean and both are built atop pilings. 
  • In nautical terms, wharves are often, though not necessarily, structures that parallel a shoreline allowing vessels to pull alongside the wharf to transfer cargo. Importantly for defining Santa Cruz's structures, wharves usually are wider and include warehouses or other industrial or commercial structures on them for storage and to conduct trade. Wharves are also usually designed to accept multiple large ships simultaneously. Using this definition, Santa Cruz County had six wharves: Powder Works Wharf, Soquel/Capitola Wharf, Spreckels/Aptos Wharf, Railroad Wharf, Port Rogers/Watsonville Wharf, and Santa Cruz Municipal Wharf
  • Piers, on the other hand, are often solitary structures that are meant simply to convey goods from a ship to the shore. They are frequently designed to only receive one vessel at a time, most often at the end, and they rarely have warehouses or commercial structures built atop them. Piers are also almost always narrower than wharves and are less likely to include railings and other structural features. This definition would therefore include the Cowell Wharf, Electric/Pleasure Pier, the Santa Cruz Portland Cement Company's pier at Davenport, and the Seacliff Pier.

Local History

hotel: Modern people apply a certain respectability and status to the term hotel, but this need not apply to the term in the past. Derived from the French word "hôtel," which itself is the modern spelling of the Middle French "hostel," the true roots of the term hotel can be found. At its most basic essence, it means a guesthouse or shelter. Hotels in the United States, especially before about 1920, could be anything from a small boarding house with only a few rooms—akin to a bed and breakfast of today—to a quick and easy roadhouse atop a tavern—like today's motel—to a deluxe resort with gardens, ballrooms, and other amenities. Hotel applied to all of these types of businesses. An inconsistent differentiation sometimes named smaller hotels "houses," while rural hotels were often called a "farm" since their owners still maintained some agricultural or pastoral activities on the side.

Sam's Senate Saloon and "Wheelmen's Rest," on the Soquel–San Jose Road, ca 1900. [UC Santa Cruz – colorized using MyHeritage]

saloon: Similar to hotels, saloons are a greatly misinterpreted thing before 1900. The term is also French and comes from "salon," which itself comes from the Old High German "sal," meaning "house" or "hall." And this is all some early saloons were: lounges or small public houses (pubs). Not all saloons served alcohol, or even food! In the 1800s, saloon meant the same thing that "salon" does today, so the term could refer to a beauty parlor for women or a barbershop. Parties could be held in a saloon since it could serve as a dance hall. Houses may feature a private saloon because it just referred to the lounge or reception area. It was only in the twentieth century, especially with the rise of the Western genre in literature and film, that the term saloon came to mean a tavern or bar.

Neptune Casino on a very busy summer day, 1904. Photo by Charles Leon Aydelotte. [San José Public Libraries – colorized using MyHeritage]

casino: Shifting from French to Italian, the word casino did not always refer to gambling. The word in its original language is the diminutive of "casa" and literally just means "little house" or "cottage." Italians once used the term to refer to their holiday homes, so casino evolved to refer to places of leisure. And leisurely people enjoy playing games. While not all games involve gambling, many do, so casino gradually became linked to gambling rooms and, ultimately, entire buildings focused on gambling. This transition was slow, and when the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk was first built in the first decade of the twentieth century, casino still retained the broader definition of "place of pleasure," hence why the Casino Arcade below the Cocoanut Grove is still called that today.

Bathhouses on the Santa Cruz Beach, ca 1877 [Chico State – colorized using MyHeritage]

bathhouse: The bathhouse is another term that has evolved much over the past two centuries, and Santa Cruz has witnessed this evolution first hand. When the first bathhouses appeared on the beach, the term referred more accurately to bathing sheds or changing rooms. People would rent bathing costumes and then change in the bathing house before venturing onto the beach where they would enter the water and bathe in the surf or river. Modest women could even rent portable bathhouses, that would be rolled to the water's edge by a horse so that the women could leave directly from the house and enter the water. The term retained that meaning even as it added a second definition: "place where people go to bathe." By the mid-1870s, bathhouses began to add indoor, heated saltwater and freshwater "baths," where people could bathe without risking injury from the surf. As these became deeper, people could enjoy indoor plunge bathing, which now refers to simply swimming in a standard swimming pool. All of the terms related to bathhouses were replaced over the decades, though the principals survive to this day.

Thursday, January 25, 2024

Maps: Santa Cruz to City Limits

Mapping industrial areas can be a difficult task even when all the factors are known, and it is much more difficult when there remain unknowns. Santa Cruz's West Side industrial area remains poorly documented, partially because many people today have forgotten that it ever existed. When the Ocean Shore Railway and Coast Line Railway (a Southern Pacific subsidiary) first passed through the West Side in 1905 on their way to Davenport, the West Side was a land of fields with scattered homes along West Cliff Drive but little in the interior west of The Circles. And little changed for decades.

Ocean Shore maintenance shops near the Garfield Park subdivision,  ca 1910s. [Courtesy UC Santa Cruz – colorized using MyHeritage]

The first commercial development using the railroad on the West Side was the Ocean Shore Railway itself. In a section of an undeveloped subdivision east of The Circles and north of the Santa Cruz Lighthouse, the railroad established its Southern Division's maintenance shop, wye, and engine shed. The buildings, spurs, sidings, and wye covered seven blocks, from Gharkey to Oregon Street, and from Centennial to beyond Laguna Street. This facility was flanked on either side by passenger stops. To the north was the main Santa Cruz Bay Street station, where the ticket office for the Ocean Shore Railway was located, though this structure was always only intended to be temporary. After passing through a cut under Bay Street, the line terminated at the Bay Street (now West Cliff Drive) truss bridge, where a passenger shelter was located above the Southern Pacific Railroad's Union Depot. Passengers could walk up the short pathway from the depot to the shelter to switch trains. In the opposite direction of the maintenance yard was the Garfield Avenue shelter, which provided a transfer point with the Union Traction Company's electric streetcars as well as a drop off for visitors to the Vue de l'Eau Casino and the Christian Church Tabernacle at the center of The Circles.

Map showing railroad stations and rights-of-way, streetcar routes, and major roads and waterways through the Santa Cruz West Side to just beyond the city limits, 1906-1980. [Click to enlarge]

On the Coast Line Railroad, there were some parallels through the West Side in the early years. The track departed the Santa Cruz Union Depot via a track that climbed up the hill on the west side of Neary Lagoon. At California Street, it turned southwest to more or less parallel Mission Street. California Street was the first flag-stop of the Coast Line and featured a small shelter in the V formed from the intersection of Bay and California Streets. Another stop, presumably with a small shelter, was at Younglove Avenue, which, like the Ocean Shore's Garfield Avenue stop, catered to people transferring onto a Union Traction streetcar or departing for the tabernacle or casino.

Aerial photograph showing Rapetti and Orby stations and the San Vicente Lumber Company mill, August 8, 1919. [Courtesy UCSC – colorized using MyHeritage].

Just east of Moore Creek, both railroads set up their final stations within the city limits. The Coast Line Railroad was first with Orby near Swift Street, probably named after a racehorse. What its original intended customer base was is unclear, but it may have been established to help passengers access Swanton's Beach, today's Natural Bridges. The Ocean Shore Railway only established a stop beside Moore Creek in 1911 to provide railroad service to San Vicente Lumber Company's mill. The mill, established that year, had dammed Moore Creek, creating what later became known as Antonelli's Pond, and erected a large lumber mill beside it. The railroad extended a looping spur along the east side of the mill, with a second spur that went toward the millpond. The Coast Line soon took advantage of this new customer, as well, and extended its own spur until the two looping spurs of the railroads met in front of the mill. The Coast Line installed two parallel spurs north of the mill to pick up lumber shipments.

Fire damage at the Walti, Schilling & Company slaughterhouse, December 1, 1931. [Courtesy UCSC – colorized MyHeritage]

In 1920, the San Vicente Lumber Company leased the Ocean Shore's southern division and continued to use it until 1923, when its mill shut down. This left the entire West Side industrial area to the Southern Pacific Railroad, which only gradually added customers. Southern Pacific's first customer was the City of Santa Cruz's light and sewer pumping station at Neary Lagoon. In 1909, a short spur was installed above the lagoon where an oil tanker could park to provide fuel to the plant. On the opposite end of the West Side, across a substantial trestle bridge that spans Moore Creek, Walti, Schilling & Company built a slaughterhouse that opened in 1923, having relocated from a slaughterhouse at Twin Lakes. This facility operated off of a spur associated with Orby for decades, only closing in 1977.

Advertisement for Pfyffer Bros. Brussels sprouts, ca 1940s. [ebay]

The industrial district centered around Orby and Swift Street grew slowly over the ensuing decades. The Union Ice Company was the first to transfer there, erecting an artichoke and peas packing plant on behalf of J. L. De Benedette in late 1936. Construction required the area to be rezoned for industrial use, which was granted, opening the entire area up to further development. The next business to join was the Coast Box & Drum Company, an alternative name for the Half Moon Bay Box & Drum Company, which moved onto a spur beside Swift Street in 1937. It focused on making packaging materials for local artichoke, sprout, and apple growers. At the same time, the Santa Cruz Artichoke Growers Association moved into an attached packing house, operating off the same spur. Three years later, the Davenport Artichoke Growers Association relocated into a large packing house next door to Union Ice and was renamed Pfyffer Bros., run by Fred and Joseph Pfyffer.

The Wm. Wrigley Jr. Company's plant on the West Side shortly after opening, ca 1954. [Courtesy UCSC]

The largest and best-known industry on the West Side was the Wm. Wrigley Jr. Company's gum factory, opened in 1954. Construction of the plant began in 1951 and required the shifting of the Union Ice Company's packing house and the installation of a new spur. Wrigley, meanwhile, was given a long spur that ran behind the plant. This was likely when the so-called Swift Street siding was installed, as well, which once ran from Natural Bridges Drive to Swift Street. As the Wrigley plant was under construction, Birds Eye, another produce company, opened a packing house to the east on Fair Avenue in 1951. A decade later, around 1961, the E. V. Moceo Company opened its own packing house across the tracks from it.

The Thomas J. Lipton Company plant on the West Side, ca 1970. [UCSC]

The prominence of Wrigley and the growing collection of packing houses around Swift Street attracted new industries to the area. The construction firm of Borchers Brothers moved to Fair Avenue in 1964 and established the easternmost spur on the West Side. They did not stay for long, though, and in 1968 the warehouse was taken over by Peerless Portable Metal Buildings, moving from a warehouse on Delaware Avenue. However, it seems this company did not use the spur since it was designated vacant in 1977. More importantly, though, was the construction of the largest plant on the West Side: the Thomas J. Lipton Company's factory, also on Delaware Avenue. This massive complex, which opened in 1969, was below the railroad grade, so a forked pair of spurs curved down from near Swift Street, across a field, and to two separate loading bays on the east side of the plant. In 1970, Mondo Bros. Distributing Company relocated from Amat Street to a warehouse and office on a spur just beside Swift Street, wholesaling beer and wine. This was likely the last new industry to operate off of an industrial spur on the West Side.

The former Davenport Branch with the detached Mondo Bros. spur in the foreground and the Swift Street siding in the distance, November 28, 2017. [Derek Whaley]

From the mid-1970s through to the mid-1990s, patronage of industrial spurs on the West Side plummeted. When the Union Pacific Railroad continuously welded the track in the early 2000s, only the Swift Street siding remained intact. The spurs that once catered to Mondo Bros., Wrigley, and Moceo all remain in place, suggesting they were the last businesses to stop using their spurs, but they have been disconnected from the Santa Cruz Branch Rail Line. This entire stretch of rail can be followed along the Monterey Bay Sanctuary Scenic Trail.

Thursday, December 28, 2023

Stations: Spring Creek

Like all of the other railroad branch lines in the Santa Cruz Mountains, the Loma Prieta Branch played host to a few short-lived stations. Spring Creek takes the award for being the shortest, while also being the first and least remembered. In an unusual twist, though, it is one of the easiest station sites within The Forest of Nisene Marks to identify and visit today.

Southern Pacific Railroad locomotive no. 80 pushing a logging train down the grade from Monte Vista (II), ca 1890 [Paul Johnston Collection, Santa Cruz Museum of Art & History—colorized using MyHeritage]

Spring Creek’s name refers to the fact that the creek provided drinking and fuel water to the village of Loma Prieta 0.6 miles to the south. Catchments were installed by the Loma Prieta Lumber Company about 440 feet above the village and these provided sufficient pressure that the water supply did not require pumps. Unfortunately, the creek did not provide sufficient water during the summer months, so wells closer to the village were also dug to supplement the supply.

The Loma Prieta Lumber Company’s primary mill at Monte Vista 1.4 miles to the north of Spring Creek burned down on May 13, 1885. While a temporary mill was reopened later that year and continued to operate from the original site, it would be two seasons before a new mill to the south opened to replace the facility. During this time, the company still needed to produce lumber to fulfil its contracts. In the preceding years, cruisers had scouted the forest and identified the southern slopes of China Ridge as a good target once principal harvesting around the mill was completed. With the area immediately around the mill partially inaccessible or damaged in the fire, the lumber company decided to accelerate its plans. The problem was how to get there.

An approach up Spring Creek Gulch seemed the most logical option. Gradual in its descent, the gulch provided a nearly level landing for a train to operate, assuming one could get to this place from across Aptos Creek. Sometime in mid- to late 1886, the Loma Prieta Lumber Company approached Southern Pacific to install a standard-gauge spur across Aptos Creek to Spring Creek Gulch. The railroad accepted, presumably with the lumber company footing the bill.

While the gulch could support the track, there was no way to get to it other than cutting, so workers cut through the sandstone hillside beside the main branch line following the curvature of a natural promontory that jutted into Aptos Creek. A bridge of unknown type was built across Aptos Creek and then the spur continued up into Spring Creek as far as it could go before the track became too steep. The first of several switches was installed at the bottom of this section and the spur then followed the ridgeline to the southwest. This allowed crews to directly load logs onto waiting flatcars from the hillsides above.

Map of the Spring Gulch spur. Drawn by Ronald G. Powell.

The spur connected with the main branch in a way that directed cars to the old mill site, so presumably the plan was to send logs there for processing. Once the new mill opened to the south, this became a more complicated transfer, with trains backing onto the branch before heading south to the new mill. This extra step may have been one of the reasons the line did not last long, though such arrangements were hardly unusual for logging railroads. Spring Creek was designated a freight stop, but no facilities were reported there suggesting it was solely a switch and likely only had a sign marking its status.

The track was extended by the lumber company as needed, eventually switchbacking again and then continuing due west to above Bridge Creek, where another switch brought it back east just above Aptos Creek. At some point, a short switchback was also extended to the east to collect timber from above Aptos Creek near the spur’s bridge. Crews extending the track had to remain below the water cisterns further up Spring Creek Gulch so as not to foul the village’s water supply—the timber above this line was not collected until the early 1900s, when the lumber company harvested the last of the standing trees along Aptos Creek.

The spur at Spring Creek may have only been used for two seasons, after which the track beyond Monte Vista was opened and logging crews moved north. A truncated spur—just the part on the south bank of Aptos Creek—may have continued to function as a holding spur for many years, though there is no evidence for this. The station remained on record in Southern Pacific books until some time in 1890. The Molino Timber Company later erected its incline directly through this section in the mid-1910s, but it did not use any of the previous infrastructure.

Geo-Coordinates & Access Rights:
37.0307N, 121.8930W
116.3 miles from San Francisco via Pajaro

The site of Spring Creek station is easy to visit. Follow the Aptos Creek Trail from where it splits from the Aptos Creek Fire Road and cross Aptos Creek. Once you ascend the opposite bank, continue through a deep cut through the hillside. Spring Creek Station was located at the opposite end of this cut, identifiable by the cut to the left that follows the curvature of the promontory out toward Aptos Creek.

Citations & Credits:

Thursday, December 7, 2023

Stations: Ellicott

Rancho San Andrés west of Watsonville hosted four Southern Pacific Railroad stations at various times, but the oldest and most versatile was Ellicott near the modern-day junction of Buena Vista Drive and San Andreas Road.

A double-headed Southern Pacific excursion train passing through Ellicott, April 25, 1949. Photo by Wilbur C. Whittaker. [Jim Vail – colorized using MyHeritage]

Ellicott was established by the Santa Cruz Railroad in 1876 under the name San Andres. By the time Southern Pacific took over the line in 1881, this name had degraded to its common phonetic spelling: San Andreas. Its namesake was a Mexican rancho granted to José Joaquín Castro on November 26, 1833. Several of his descendants remained on the property after his death from smallpox in 1838. At 8,911 acres, Rancho San Andrés was a mid-sized rancho bounded on the north by Ranchos Aptos and Laguna de las Calabesas, the east by Harkins Slough, the south by Watsonville Slough’s outlet, and the west by the Monterey Bay. The area was predominantly ranch- and farmland, with significant sections of forest, a sprawling swamp, and six continuous miles of beach. A two-story adobe home was erected in the 1840s, probably by Joaquín’s son Juan José Castro, on the northeastern edge of the rancho. This survives today as the Castro Adobe State Historic Park. In 1852, Joaquín’s widow, María Antonia Amador, contested his will leading to the first subdivision of the estate. Another lawsuit in 1872 resulted in a second partition, after which the Castro family lost all of their land except for that in Larkin Valley.

The Castro Adobe, early 20th century. [UC Santa Cruz Digital Collections]

The timing of the second lawsuit benefited the Santa Cruz Railroad, which soon acquired a right-of-way that ran the length of the rancho. Grading began in the spring of 1875 and the site of San Andres Station was reached in late September. The station immediately became a shipping center for wheat, grain, and sugar beets, the latter of which were processed at the recently-opened California Beet Sugar Company’s refinery in Soquel. When the first timetable was published in the Sentinel on June 10, 1876, San Andres was an inaugural passenger station. Around the end of September, a depot was erected on the property of Peter Leonard. By this time, the former rancho had evolved into a farming community, the most prominent feature of which was San Andres School, established in 1861 just south of the railroad station at the corner of San Andreas Road and Whisky Hill Road (Buena Vista Drive).

San Andreas School with the Santa Cruz Branch passing beside it, Buena Vista Drive in the distance, and San Andreas Road in the foreground, ca 1935. [UC Santa Cruz]

The name San Andreas for the station did not stick, however. When the Northern Division was restructured in 1891, Southern Pacific decided for unknown reasons to change the name to Ellicott. Why this name particular name was chosen is unclear. There is no record of anyone with that surname living in Santa Cruz County at any point in the nineteenth century. The most likely answer is that it was named after Ellicott’s Mills, Maryland, where in 1830 one of the first railroad stations in the United States was erected for the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad.

View of Ellicott's Mills, Maryland, ca 1854. Lithograph by E. Sachse & Company, Baltimore. [Library of Congress]

Frustratingly little is known about Ellicott as a destination. No later than 1890, a 256-square-foot platform was installed on the south side of the track, presumably to help local farmers load their freight. In 1897, a telephone was noted as being available at Ellicott. The station likely had at least a spur from the beginning, but no additional trackage was recorded until 1905, when a 421-foot-long siding was noted in an employee timetable. A Southern Pacific-owned warehouse was at the station from at least 1902 and may have been there since the time of the Santa Cruz Railroad. John H. Covell had leased the building for three years when, on January 16, 1906, it burned down, destroying hay, straw, and farm tools owned by George Leonard. The railroad did not rebuild the warehouse, but it installed a 12-foot by 21-foot wood frame enclosed passenger shelter in 1911.

Flooding in a field beside newly-repaired Southern Pacific tracks at Ellicott, 1909. [Neil Vodden Collection, Jack Hansen – colorized using MyHeritage]

Despite its new shelter, Ellicott declined in passenger patronage from the 1910s. Its freight customers also declined, though sand gondolas from the Olympia quarries near Felton often parked on the siding in later years. Part of this was due to the creation of stations at Manresa and Cristo just northwest of Ellicott, while the increase usage of trucks to haul out produce grown in the area also greatly contributed to the station’s decline. Regular passenger service along the line ended in 1938 and the passenger shelter at Ellicott was dismantled November 11, 1940, though excursion trains still periodically called at the stop into the early 1960s.

Wide view of Camp McQuaide near Ellicott, 1942. [WorthPoint]

Ellicott had a slight renaissance during World War II as the station point for nearby Camp McQuaide. In 1926, the National Guard had established the facility, named after Spanish¬–American War and World War I veteran chaplain Joseph P. McQuaide who had died two years earlier, on the site of the Capitola Airport near New Brighton. Protests by local poultry farmers as well as residents of the nearby El Salto Resort convinced the National Guard to relocate to the less populated marine terrace south of Ellicott.

National Guardsmen loading blanks into an artillery cannon, ca 1944. [Derek Whaley]

The new facility was built in part through the Works Progress Administration, which was responsible for upgrading San Andreas Road and other local thoroughfares to support military equipment. The base’s airstrip, completed in 1943, was named Allen Field in honor of U.S. Army artilleryman Captain Francis C. Allen, who had died in October 1941 while responding to an ammunition shed fire in Alaska. The camp initially hosted the 250th Coast Artillery Regiment, but throughout the war, over 12,000 Guardsmen passed through the facility, including members of the Signal Corps, Cavalry Medics, and Naval Radar group. As the war neared its end, the base also became a holding camp for soldiers who had broken the law. The base was decommissioned in 1948.

Photo excursionists loitering around a Southern Pacific train at Ellicott, April 3, 1948. [The Santa Cruzian]

The end of the war in 1945 led to the reduction of the siding at Ellicott the next year. Photographic evidence from 1948 suggests that the siding was removed entirely shortly afterwards. Also in 1946, San Andreas School was consolidated into the Freedom School District and the schoolhouse became a private home. Ellicott remained on employee timetables as a station until August 30, 1960, when Southern Pacific petitioned the Public Utilities Commission for abandonment. According to Southern Pacific officials, no local freight customers had used the stop for two years and the newspaper suspected Southern Pacific wanted to avoid paying transit tariffs from the station. Permission for abandonment was granted on December 1, 1960.

Geo-Coordinates & Access Rights:
36.921418, -121.837183
13.4 miles from Santa Cruz Union Depot

The station point for Ellicott was located across from the end of Crest Drive, which was likely originally built as the entry road for railroad visitors to Camp McQuaide, now operating as the Seventh-Day Adventists’ Monterey Bay Academy. The siding was located immediately to the west of Crest Drive, where Peaceful Valley Drive runs parallel to San Andreas Road and the Santa Cruz Branch Rail Line. Indeed, this section of Peaceful Valley Drive likely predates the rest of the road and served as the loading area for vehicles delivering freight to waiting trains. The Santa Cruz-Monterey Bay KOA Holiday Park is located just to the north of Ellicott, while the area east of the station is now the Ellicott Slough National Wildlife Refuge.

Citations & Credits:

  • Henry Bender, SP72.
  • Donald T. Clark, Santa Cruz County Place Names: A Geographical Dictionary, 2nd edition (Scotts Valley, CA: Kestrel Press, 2008).
  • A. J. Hatch, “Official Map of Santa Cruz County” (San Francisco: A.J. Hatch, 1889).
  • Edna E. Kimbro, et al, “Historic Structure Report for Rancho San Andrés Castro Adobe State Historic Park” (June 30, 2003).
  • Ronald G. Powell, The Tragedy of Martina Castro: Part 1 of the History of Rancho Soquel Augmentation (Santa Cruz, CA: Zayante Publishing, 2020)
  • Santa Cruz Evening SentinelSentinel, and Sentinel–News.
  • Capt. H. A. Sherwood, “Coast Artillery Replacement Training Center: Camp McQuaide,” Coast Artillery Journal 86:2 (Mar-Apr 1943)
  • Southern Pacific Railroad Company, corporate records.
  • Sarah Weston, “A Brief Look Back at Camp McQuaide,” The Mid-County Post 17:16 (August 8, 2006).

Friday, October 13, 2023

Curiosities: The Beach Street Cafe

What is the oldest commercial building on Beach Street in Santa Cruz? Is it the Casino and Neptune's Kingdom—the former Plunge Natatorium? Is it the Carousel or Giant Dipper? Or is it something people see everyday but barely spare a glance at? While several private residences dating to the 1870s and earlier survive across Beach Hill, the structures along the waterfront are relatively new, dating only to the early 1900s. The Casino and Natatorium buildings date to 1907, replacing the earlier Neptune's Casino and Plunge buildings that burned down in 1906. In fact, this fire destroyed most of the oldest commercial buildings on the waterfront, including the Dolphin Bath House, which had been converted into the Tent City Restaurant, and several other associated structures. Only some tents and cottages, as well as the Plunge's powerhouse survived. However, one other building was only partially damaged in the inferno and quickly returned to service: the restaurant today known as the Beach Street Café.

Dabelich's Grill with the Casino to the left and the Sea Beach Hotel in the distance, ca 1910. [Margaret Koch Collection, Santa Cruz Museum of Art & History]

This little restaurant at 399 Beach Street was erected from March to May 1904 by Ralph Selleck Miller, who had previously co-owned the Miller–Leibbrandt Plunge until Fred Swanton's Santa Cruz Tent and Cottage City Corporation bought it in 1903 to convert it into the Neptune Plunge. Miller bought the land from Frederick Hihn, who owned everything between Main Street and Cliff Street between First Street and the waterfront. A private home, which appears in a few early photographs of the waterfront, once sat at the intersection but Miller had it torn down for his new building. This narrow structure was two stories tall, with three rooms downstairs and four upstairs. Prior to opening, the walls were whitewashed and the roof was painted green. The restaurant was built for around $2,500. At the time it opened, the café was the only independent restaurant on the waterfront, with all other eateries owned by either a hotel or Swanton's company. Miller owned a substantial stake in the amusement center and his café was an expression of faith in the project.

Neptune Casino and Plunge with the Miller Building just to the left of the Casino beside a building labeled "Restaurant," ca 1905. [UC Santa Cruz Digital Collections]

Throughout all of its history to the present, the little café at the corner of Cliff and Beach Street has made cameo appearances in thousands of photographs of the Casino and Boardwalk. Though rarely the subject of photographs, it is an ever-present reminder of the enduring legacy of this restaurant. Miller himself had little do with the building once it was erected. As a member of the Santa Cruz County Board of Supervisors, he delegated daily management of the café to a Mr. Fletcher of Capitola. From March 1904, he ran the business as a temperance café, though his primary food option appears to have been French fries. Advertisements in the Sentinel ran every day through the summer of 1904 promoting Fletcher's fresh crisps, sold across from the Neptune Casino. Later business owners mostly avoided daily advertisements as unnecessary since the majority of the shop's traffic came during the summer months from tourists.

Advertisement for Dabelich's Grill from the Surf, June 15, 1905.

In January 1905, management of the café was transferred to George Dabelich, former proprietor of the Pacific Restaurant on Pacific Avenue across from the Pacific Ocean House. He immediately set to work converting the fries shop into a small short-order restaurant. One of the downstairs rooms was converted into a kitchen, while another became a private dining room, with the largest room converted into a public dining room with tables and counter seating and painted entirely in green. The upstairs rooms were converted into private dining rooms with views of the Monterey Bay. Miller took this opportunity to add a cement-lined cellar underneath the building. He also installed a cement walkway around it, possibly the first concrete sidewalk on the beach. The Dabelich's Grill and Bar Room opened to much more fanfare than Fletcher's café on April 3, with seventy-five meals served by Dabelich himself, since he hadn't hired a chef yet.

The Tent Casino, erected following the fire that destroyed the Neptune Casino, with Dabelich's Grill in the center background, summer 1906.

Daily advertisements for Dabelich's began to appear in the Surf from mid-June 1905 and ran until November 15. Shortly afterwards, it was announced that the grill would close, but the bar would remain open and begin selling cigars and cigarettes. On the morning of June 22, 1906, the great Casino fire burned down most of the structures at the waterfront. Dabelich's Grill suffered serious damage in the inferno, but remained standing. He reported to the Santa Cruz Evening News that he estimated his loss of stock and furniture to be $1,990. Apparently, only two walls and some internal walls of the second floor survived the fires, but the building was partially protected by the fact that a fire hydrant was just outside the building so firefighters were constantly on hand to put out flames. Much of Dabelich's products survived the fire, either because they were stored in the cellar or were removed from the building. Dabelich opened a pop-up shop beside his fire-damaged building the next day. Meanwhile, Ralph Miller immediately set to work rebuilding the restaurant.

The Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk, with the St. Francis Grill to the left of the Casino, late 1920s [UC Santa Cruz]

The restored building reopened in mid-July, once more under Dabelich's oversight. Very little is said of the business for the next few years and it may have operated more as a bar than a restaurant as it had before the fire. On May 1, 1909, George H. Collin, a former San Francisco bar owner, took over management of what was then known as the Cliff Saloon. He may have renamed it the Cliff Tavern, but records are unclear. He ran the bar for five summers and then transferred management back to Miller, who was partnered with Mary Spellman at the time. Details are very scarce regarding the restaurant from 1913 to 1921. Next door, where Boardwalk Bowl's courtyard is today, Peter Pappas erected a restaurant, which opened on June 17, 1916. Due to the widening of Beach Street, Miller and Pappas were both forced to move their structures back from the road in late 1919. Miller ran his saloon for another year but, in April 1921, leased his old café to Pappas, who merged the two establishments to create the St. Francis Grill.

The newly upgraded Cocoanut Grove with the St. Francis across the street, ca 1960s. [UC Santa Cruz]

Pappas had been running concessions at the Boardwalk with his brother, Constantine, since 1910. Over twelve years he had amassed a small fortune and made the best of it in April 1922 when he purchased from Agnes Hihn Younger the entire block between Beach Street and First Street, and from Cliff Street to Westbrook, minus the Breakers Hotel and Miller's small café, the latter of which they leased. The combined restaurant and bar was upgraded that same month, doubling the size of the dining room and adding a larger kitchen and cellar.

Advertisement for the St. Francis Grill, published in the Evening News, February 2, 1931.

St. Francis operated for forty years, only closing its doors at the end of the 1961 summer season. Ralph Miller died on August 29, 1950, and at some point afterwards his heirs sold the café to the Pappas family. For an unknown reason, Peter Pappas demolished his original 1916 restaurant around 1955, shifting all focus to the older two-story Miller Building. For decades its site remained a vacant lot until the Seaside Company converted it into a courtyard for Boardwalk Bowl. Management of the St. Francis Grill passed to Peter's children in November 1957, when Tony, Mary, and Ethel Pappas took over and renamed the restaurant the St. Francis Cocktail Lounge.

Demolition of the Casa del Rey overbridge, with the St. Francis Grill to the left, early 1950s [UC Santa Cruz]

The Pappas sold the property to a collective named Shorebreakers on May 14, 1962. One of the Shorebreakers, Sumner Treanor, a former Chicago Bears player, ran the St. Francis Lounge with his wife, Jo, who played piano and sang each night during the first months that they ran the bar. However, advertisements suddenly stopped on January 8, 1963, and Shorebreakers went out of business at the end of 1965. In May 1964, the collective leased the building to Jim Trillo, who opened Opus de Jazz, a record store and music venue. Despite his bold ideas about operating year-round and trying something new, he could not pay his bills. He declared bankruptcy in September 1965, but probably closed his business before the end of 1964. Basil J. D'Anna took over management of the building in April 1965, presumably as a lessee of Shorebreakers, although they purchased the property at some later point. D'Anna, riffing off his nickname 'Monk,' named the restaurant Monk's Lounge.

Sentinel advertisements for the Treanors' St. Francis Lounge (August 3, 1962), Opus de Jazz (August 20, 1864), and Monk's Lounge (February 11, 1966).

Monk's ran as the Brown Bag Deli during the day in the summers and as a nightclub in the evenings. Upstairs, one of Santa Cruz's first gay bars ran from 1971 to 1972 as The 141 Club, though it was not widely advertised due to public perceptions about homosexuality at the time. Monk's proved a popular musical venue for a decade, riding out the Hippy era before shutting its doors in 1976. The café passed through several hands after this, with Michael Williams, Louis Russo, and David Leefeldt taking it over in July 1976, followed in April 1979 by Barbara and Paul Tucker, who then leased it to Carlo Boyd and Donald Wallingford in April 1981. The Tuckers sold the property to Michael Hendel in February 1983, who sold it in October 1984 to Willie and Dollie Case, who continue to own the business today. The Cases have decorated much of the restaurant with Maxfield Parrish magazine covers and artwork, while also retaining artifacts from the café's earlier iterations. The couple also owns the Wharf House in Capitola.

Advertisement for the Beach Street Café, published in the Sentinel, August 11, 1994.

From 1979, the restaurant at the corner of Beach and Cliff Streets has operated under the name Beach Street Café (or briefly Beach Street Deli). While it has certainly changed hands many times, the restaurant/bar/grill/saloon/deli/café has remained open almost continuously since it first opened its doors over a century ago. The Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk may have some of the oldest buildings on the Santa Cruz waterfront, but this little restaurant has survived fires, earthquakes, and floods to become the oldest commercial building of them all.

The Beach Street Café at 399 Beach Street, ca 2015. [Victor Pan]

Citations & Credits:

  • Various articles from the Santa Cruz Surf, Evening News, and Sentinel. 1903-2005.

Thursday, September 7, 2023

Car Stops: Arana Gulch and the Catholic Cemetery

The eastern limits of the municipal area of Santa Cruz—once comprising the City of Santa Cruz and the Township of Branciforte—have long been set at Arana Gulch, a depression formed by Arana Creek, which has its source far up Hidden Valley Road. The County Road—now Soquel Avenue—snakes through the gulch, splitting at its midpoint to head toward Soquel or Capitola. On the east side of the gulch is Old Holy Cross Cemetery, which was established in 1873 as an overflow cemetery for Catholic residents of the county. Most of the people buried at the old Santa Cruz Mission cemetery were reinterred here in 1885 when the Holy Cross Church was built. All of these facts contributed to the idea that any street railroad system on the East Side of the San Lorenzo River should extend to at least Arana Gulch.

An East Santa Cruz Street Railroad horsecar running along Atlantic Avenue with a view north across Wood's Lagoon and up Arana Gulch, ca 1892. [UC Santa Cruz Digital Collections – colorized using MyHeritage]

The gulch was named after José Arana, who was originally granted Rancho Potrero y Rincón de San Pedro Regaldo by California Governor Juan Bautista Alvarado on August 15, 1842. This 92-acre land grant sat north and northeast of Mission Santa Cruz on the mission's former pastureland. Arana moved to the west side of his namesake gulch around the time that California became a state in 1850. He lived there until his death on March 1, 1868. East of Arana Creek was Rancho Arroyo del Rodeo, originally owned by the family of José Antonio Rodriguez but sold to John Daubenbiss and John Hames in 1845. Prior to Arana's relocation to the area, the depression had been known as Rodriguez Gulch by English-speaking settlers and retained that name into the 1850s.

An East Santa Cruz Street Railroad horsecar on Soquel Avenue near Cayuga Street, ca 1893. [Santa Cruz Public Libraries]

By the late 1880s, the population density of Santa Cruz had grown such that easier means of transportation were required for people who needed to commute daily from the outskirts. While horse-driven street railroads had reached the West Side by the late 1870s, the East Side only had a brief service from 1876 to early 1881 when the City Railroad, running on the Santa Cruz Railroad's tracks, operated to Railroad (Seabright) Avenue. Following a nearly decade-long lapse in service, William Ely, a well-respected East Side community member, petitioned the Santa Cruz Common Council on November 4, 1889 to extend a horsecar line along Soquel Avenue to the western ledge above Arana Gulch. The council approved the franchise on December 3 and the East Santa Cruz Street Railroad was incorporated a week later.

East Santa Cruz Street Railroad No. 4 on Soquel Avenue, ca 1895. [Santa Cruz Public Libraries]

Ely was quick to build the line to Cayuga Street and it officially opened on May Day 1890. But rather than extending the line to Arana Gulch, as promised and contractually obligated to do, Ely wanted to redirect the line down Cayuga to Seabright Beach. At a tense meeting with the Santa Cruz Board of Supervisors on May 10, Ely was given permission to build this new branch line, so long as he completed the track to Arana Gulch first. He was given a month to resume building the track the requisite 4,000 feet to its agreed terminus.

The track to Arana Gulch and the Catholic Cemetery was finally completed on April 17, 1891. Although it was completed with no fanfare, the Santa Cruz Surf noted that it brought the streetcar line one step closer to Soquel and Capitola. It also noted that the fact that the streetcar line ended at the cemetery meant people could more easily visit their deceased friends and relatives. Why it was actually important is unclear—it may have been done to ensure East Siders that they were not forgotten. While the streetcar tracks were being installed down the County Road, the Board of Supervisors used the construction as an opportunity to fill, regrade, and otherwise improve the main road to Soquel. In 1894, plans were announced to extend either the Arana Gulch or Seabright branches to Capitola, but the economic conditions of the time put this project on hold. 

East Santa Cruz Street Railroad listed for sale, Santa Cruz Surf, October 22, 1901.

By the end of the century, it was clear that the future of the line was in electrification or abandonment. Fred Swanton, former owner of the Big Creek Electric Company, already controlled the city's other railroad, the Santa Cruz Electric Railway, and bought a controlling stake in the East Santa Cruz Railroad in the late 1890s. In May 1902, he received permission from the Board of Supervisors to extend the Arana Gulch Branch to Soquel and Capitola, but a better opportunity presented itself. The owners of the Santa Cruz, Capitola & Watsonville Railway Company, which planned to build an electric streetcar line between the named places, offered to buy the aging horse-railway. Swanton and Ely agreed to the sale in August 1902. Electrification of the line was approved by the Board of Supervisors on January 6, 1903, with a proviso that the Arana Gulch track be electrified no later than October 15. By the time the Union Traction Company consolidated all of its predecessors on September 2, 1904, the Arana Gulch Branch had been electrified for nearly a year.

A Union Traction Company electric streetcar near DeLaveaga Park, ca 1909. [Santa Cruz Public Libraries]

Very little is actually said of the Arana Gulch and Catholic Cemetery stops. A notice in June 1895 stated that a turntable was to be installed at Arana Gulch, but it is unknown if this ever happened. In January 1902, a letter to the Sentinel reflected on a recent trip the writer took on the horsecar line to Arana Gulch and down Haynes Hill, presumably the name for the western slope of Arana Gulch. This is the only concrete evidence that the streetcar line actually descended into the gulch itself, though there is no evidence it climbed the eastern embankment. Service to Arana Gulch was repeatedly curtailed during years with tight budgets, with the branch being closed most of 1905. However, the line was not abandoned and surveyors working for the Ocean Shore Railway Company hoped to use the Arana Gulch Branch as its mainline between Santa Cruz and Watsonville.

Perhaps as a reflection of this newfound optimism, the tracks beyond Cayuga Street were replaced with heavier rail in June 1906 in anticipation of the line's extension to Soquel. At the same time, most of the network was upgraded to standard-gauge, which left the short Arana Gulch Branch in a difficult situation. Beginning June 28, horsecars once more plied the branch line from Cayuga to Park Way, not because the branch wasn't electric, but because the new standard-gauge system was not compatible with the older narrow-gauge electric cars. The 160-acre property of Adolph Hagemann, which on the western rim of the gulch, marked the terminus, suggesting that trackage into the gulch, if any ever existed, was abandoned no later than this point. Service to Arana Gulch was every half hour from 7:20 a.m. to 6:20 p.m., and the Evening Sentinel reported that the line was "doing a good business." On June 3, 1907, the Board of Supervisors approved the extension of the line to Soquel and Capitola and its electrification. However, that same day the Board of Supervisors permitted the construction of an entirely new branch line along Water Street and Morrissey Boulevard to DeLaveaga Park.

A woman waiting for a Union Traction Company streetcar at Morrissey Boulevard, December 1, 1918. [University of California, Santa Cruz]

This new line effectively rendered the Arana Gulch Branch redundant. When the DeLaveaga trackage reached the old Arana Gulch track on October 15, 1908, it seems certain that the two lines were linked and the old Cayuga to Morrissey trackage put out of service, though it was not abandoned at this time. The trackage from the new branch along Soquel Avenue to Park Way must have been upgraded to standard gauge at this time. Plans were still in place to eventually extend this trackage to Soquel, while another scheme intended to take the track up Park Way into DeLaveaga Park, where it could more easily reach Laveaga Heights at the top of the park. At the Park Way entrance, a large entry sign would be installed.

Sign welcoming people to the City of Santa Cruz on Soquel Avenue at Park Way, March 1931. [UC Santa Cruz]

For some reason, this Park Way route was never built despite the newspaper spending many words on it throughout 1910. The Morrissey track to DeLaveaga was electrified in late 1910, signalling the end of plans to create a grand entrance at Park Way. Meanwhile, Union Traction quietly abandoned its Cayuga Street to Morrissey track in October 1911 to allow it to be concreted for automobile traffic. When precisely service ended to the bottom of Park Way overlooking Arana Gulch is unknown, but it was likely around this same time. A decade after the stop was abandoned, a large sign was installed over the road at Park Way welcoming people to the City of Santa Cruz.

Geo-Coordinates & Access Rights:

Arana Gulch: 36.981635, -121.998820 (speculative)
Catholic Cemetery: 36.983216, -121.994716 (speculative)

There are no known photographs of either stop's shelter, assuming any such structure was built. To make matters even more frustrating, the precise locations of the streetcar stops for Arana Gulch and the Catholic Cemetery remain uncertain. The Arana Gulch stop was somewhere in the vicinity of Park Way according to multiple sources. Since the County Road crossed Arana Creek in this section, it is plausible that the streetcar line did as well, in which case the stop for the Catholic Cemetery was likely the Capitola Road Extension, which was originally Capitola Road. However, if it did not climb to the top of the eastern hillside, then it probably stopped across from today's La Fonda Avenue, where there was a footpath to the cemetery. The cemetery itself closed in 1946 and fell into disrepair for half a century before volunteers restored it. The area immediately south of the stop sites is now Arana Gulch Open Space, which includes walking trails to Woods Lagoon and the Santa Cruz Small Craft Harbor.

Citations & Credits:

  • Clark, Donald Thomas. Santa Cruz County Place Names: A Geographical Dictionary. 2nd edition. Scotts Valley, CA: Kestrel Press, 2008.
  • McCaleb, Charles S. Surf, Sand & Streetcars: A Mobile History of Santa Cruz, California. 2nd edition. Santa Cruz, CA: Museum of Art & History, 2005.