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Friday, August 30, 2013

Reeds Spur

1894 County Survey Map showing the location of "Reid Switch" at the
future site of Brookdale. (Courtesy San Lorenzo Valley Museum)
Branching off from the main Southern Pacific Railroad Boulder Creek Branch tracks just west of Clear Creek in what would become Brookdale, Reeds Spur (or more properly Reed's Spur) was a short freight spur built on the property of Robert C. Reed, probably in the late 1880 and certainly by 1894. Unfortunately, nothing appears to be known about Reed himself, but his spur appeared in at least three records. It's first appearance is with a county survey map, at right, showing the misspelled and labelled "Reid Switch" branching off from the main line to the south for a very short distance before reaching the cliff overlooking Huckleberry Island and the San Lorenzo River. Donald Clark quotes the name of the spur as being from Ellis A. Davis's Commercial Encyclopedia of the Pacific Northwest, 1914-1915 (Oakland, CA: 1915), and does not mention the map at right or the station book in his sources.

The 1899 Station Book records that the spur was located precisely 79 miles south of San Francisco via Alameda Point and Felton Dept. It was 0.1 miles northwest of Steens Spur and 1.0 mile south of Boulder Mill. The freight station at Reeds Spur was classified as a type-B station, implying the spur, a possible siding for the spur, and a loading area, which was located on the left side (north) of the tracks, probably between the spur and the mainline.

Photograph of Brookdale in the late 1910s or early 1920s showing a train heading northbound up the tracks. A spur or siding is visible directly to the right (south) of the tracks. This possibly could be the surviving Reeds Spur, or a later spur mentioned on timetables, or a simple unnoted siding. 
The spur may have survived the broad gauging in the mid-1900s as one is noted on the August 19th, 1923, timetable alongside the entry for Brookdale Station. However, this may be a reference to a much closer parallel spur or even a mislabeled siding that existed at Brookdale and appears in some photographs of the site. Judging by the map above, the original Reeds Spur jutted due west toward the river while the later spur or siding remained much closer to the tracks. There is also a short spur jutting southward into the Fish Hatchery grounds from the top of a 1905 survey map, though this is unlikely to be related to the Reeds Spur or its successors. In all likelihood, the original Reeds Spur was removed in the early 1900s when the line was broad-gauged and it was not resurrected. Multiple records attest to Reeds Spur being the predecessor of Clear Creek and then Brookdale, though its original purpose remains ambiguous.

Today, the base of Reeds Spur can be found at the base of Reed Street, a private side-street of Pacific Avenue the end of which was where the Brookdale Station was located. Nothing survives of the spur today and even property lines have been remapped along its route, further suggesting its earlier dissolution date.

  • Donald Thomas Clark, Santa Cruz County Place Names: A Geographic Dictionary (Scotts Valley, CA: Kestrel Press, 2008)
  • Southern Pacific System: List of Officers, Agencies and Stations, 1899.

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