Friday, June 1, 2012

Eblis Flag-Stop

There is a mystery surrounding the location once known as Eblis because not only is the name cryptic at best, but the location itself has completely disappeared. Despite being found on a surviving stretch of track between Golf Links and the Mission Tunnel in Santa Cruz, Eblis flag-stop was located at the intersection of two roads—Portrero St. and Quintana St.—one of which doesn't exist anymore. That's because when Highway 1's brief freeway moment between River St. and Mission St. was built, it bulldozed over an industrial area which included Quintana St. During most of its life, Quintana St. was the right-of-way, much like Chestnut St. is the right-of-way on the other side of the Mission Tunnel. The siding which comprised most of the stop, fortunately, still exists, showing precisely where Eblis was once located.

Eblis was the first true stop in Santa Cruz when heading south out of the Santa Cruz Mountains. It was located near where the Old Sash Mill is located today. The Eblis siding still exists beside the Sash Mill and runs from Mora Street all the way to Highway 1. The Old Sash Mill opened in 1910 but Eblis was in use from 1877 when the area was a loading zone for local livestock and agricultural goods. Unfortunately, historic photographs of the location are nonexistent.

Modern photographs of the area will have to suffice thanks to the wonder of Google Streetview. The below photograph is taken almost on top of the former site of Eblis, but now is in the middle of Highway 1 at the level crossing. This view looks out south toward Portrero St. showing the tracks separating into the main line and its cargo siding.

Below is an image of the tracks crossing beside the Old Sash Mill at Portrero St. The level crossing has been upgraded in recent years and both tracks remain prominent despite the fact that the rightmost track is rarely if ever used by Sierra Northern or the Big Trees trains.

This siding runs to Mora St., a less reputable area. A short tower car of some sort still sits on the overgrown siding here. The siding has probably not been used in many years as it is severely overgrown in parts and is more rusty than the main line.

Looking south from Mora St, one can see that the tracks merge back together before turning around a short curve toward Mission Tunnel. The tunnel's north portal is not visible from the road and is blocked by a high gate to detract the homeless from camping inside.

Just as a fun end to this portion of the article, though, the tracks in the Eblis area were repaired recently and many of the ties replaced. During the renovation, at least a small portion of the siding was used as can be seen by this Big Trees engine parked on the siding with a 1920s flatcar behind it holding new ties. This photograph was taken in April 2012.

The 1899 Station Book does not note a location known as Eblis, but does make mention of the Tunnel 8 siding, which must have been the same although the distance noted in the book is about a half mile off. The siding was not noted as having anything of note in the book and was found between Powder Works and Santa Cruz stations.


  1. According to Arabic tradition, Eblis is the name of the principal evil genie. Curious name for a flagstop.

  2. Interesting, though I don't know how that relates to the area. I suspect the word has been transferred to Italian, since Portrero District was heavily Italian back in the early 1900s. I don't know how Italians would interpret the word, though. Nice find, anonymous.