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Friday, August 23, 2013

Hatchery Station

County survey map of the Brookdale Fish Hatchery and Fish Pond in 1905.
The hatchery opened this year and had not yet developed its fish pond, though
the property was earmarked for it. Also interesting to note is a short spur at the top
of the hatchery grounds popping in from the top, likely the end of the nearby
Reed's Spur, though it could be an unnoted spur. This spur does not appear in later
maps of the area. Steen's Spur was already gone by the time this map was drafted.
(Courtesy San Lorenzo Valley Museum)
In 1905, soon after the village and resort area of Brookdale was developed, Santa Cruz County, supported by the Southern Pacific Railroad and several smaller organizations, decided to build the Brookdale Fish Hatchery near the base of Clear Creek. The land that the hatchery was built upon was originally owned by J.H. Logan, a local judge, and the hatchery building itself was built in 1907 at 11300 Berkeley Way. An earlier fish growing pond had sat south of the Fish Hatchery as early as 1894 and this much larger operation was likely a successor of that. The purpose of the hatchery was to grow steelhead trout that could be shipped to local rivers and streams in Santa Cruz, San Mateo, Santa Clara, and Monterey counties to help supplement the fish that already live in their water sources. In its later years, a number of fish even were sent to northern California. Eggs for the fish were collected initially from nearby Clear Creek, which also provided the water for the fishing pond that was completed in 1906, replacing the original pond off of Larkspur Street. The first year in operation, the hatchery produced over a million fish, all of which had to be released almost immediately since the growing pond wasn't finished yet and the older pond was not large enough to support such a number. By 1910, over two million fish were being bred at the hatchery. The California Fish & Game Commission took over operations of the hatchery in 1912 (or possibly 1917) and continued to operate the facility until 1953, at which point the land reverted to the Logan family.

The hatchery cottage, probably in the 1920s (Courtesy UC Libraries)
1909 county surveyor may showing Hatchery Station and the Hatchery
grounds. Not the hatchery's cottage north of the grounds. The short spur
north of the grounds no longer appears, and a road—Madrone St.—now
sits on that site. (Courtesy the San Lorenzo Valley Museum)
The adjacent Hatchery Station was built on the west side of the Southern Pacific Railroad right-of-way to service the Fish Hatchery. The precise location of the physical station is not known, but it was likely either at Madrone Street or at the base of Larkspur Street. The Hatchery Cottage occupied two lots at the south end of Berkeley Way. The cottage itself dates to 1907 and still sits on the site, while a later building appears to have been built in 1944 and is also still extant. dates the removal of the fish pond located south of the hatchery cottage and its conversion into a private residence to 1929, which matches the rough date that rail service to Brookdale was terminated. How the hatchery functioned after that date is unknown.

The August 19, 1923, Southern Pacific Coast Division timetable establishes distances in relation to other stations along the Boulder Creek Branch. Fish Hatchery, as it was then called, was located 77.9 miles south of San Francisco via the Mayfield Cut-Off and Felton Depot. It was 1.8 miles south of Boulder Creek, and nestled 0.5 miles south of Brookdale and 0.3 miles north of Siesta. No other timetables are available to this author for comparison at this time.

Brookdale Fish Hatchery, 1910.  Note the railroad tracks passing in the foreground. The area around the cottage is much clearer than in the later photograph above and a small portion of the adjacent pond can be seen at left.
Postcard of the interior of the Brookdale Fish Hatchery, 1911.
The Brookdale Fish Hatchery remained in operation until 1953, but it is unknown when they ceased to use the railroad. The Southern Pacific Railroad ceased operations along the Boulder Creek branch in January 1934, so access after that was via alternate transportation. While it is clear that the location was still in use in 1923, it is possible that service to Hatchery Station was ended prior to 1934 and property sales date the closure of the large fishing pond to 1929. The hatchery cottage, after it closed, was turned into a private residence which still exists secluded near the end of Berkeley Way in Brookdale. The right-of-way through the area has been completely built over with residences while the hatchery grounds itself are partially covered by Old River Lane, a private residential road.

  • Donald Thomas Clark, Santa Cruz County Place Names: A Geographic Dictionary (Scotts Valley, CA: Kestrel Press, 2008).
  • Earl Leitritz, A History of California's Fish Hatcheries, 1870 – 1960 (Sacramento, CA: Department of Fish & Game, 1970).
  • Lisa Robinson, Images of America: San Lorenzo Valley (Arcadia Press, 2012).


  1. I have looked at the Fish Hatchery station on the list of Boulder Creek branch stations for years and
    wondered what was located here! Your article was
    very informative! More good work! Thank you for
    taking the time to research this!

  2. The great article about hatchery station i have ever read in my life.You have added lots of amazing and clear historical information .It will help me in my near future research work .Photoes are really amazing .Waiting for your next unique article .