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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 This site would not be possible without your help and support. Thank you! – Derek R. Whaley

Friday, September 13, 2013

Brookdale Trestle (SLR Trestle #4)

The trestle beside Brookdale Station predated the station itself by nearly twenty years. Although it was formally San Lorenzo River Trestle #4, it became commonly known as Brookdale Trestle due to its close proximity to the settlement. The South Pacific Coast Railroad, under the guise of the Felton & Pescadero Railroad, built the original narrow-gauge trestle around 1885. The Southern Pacific Railroad then expanded it in the early 1900s to support broad-gauged trains.

Only known photograph of the Brookdale Trestle up close, taken from under the trestle of the nearby watering hole. (Courtesy Grant Correll)
The photograph above tells the most of the story, with the trestle passing over the Brookdale Swimming Hole that was located just south of the trestle. The direction of the river is known by the fact that there is no automobile bridge visible beside the trestle, overhead. The photograph was probably taken on the same day as the photograph below or near the same time since both are attributed to the same photographer, "Ravnos". That would date this photograph to 1911. The trestle itself is only partially visible, but what can be seen is a short wood-block pier on the south bank with redwood trunk piers supporting an entirely wooden bridge. The perspective in this picture is rather odd and is looking around a rather tight corner. This makes the structure, which almost appears to be a tent, seem closer than it in fact is. It also suggests that the trestle is closer to the shore than it really is, though comparing the height of the trestle to the distance to shore shows that it has quite a ways to go, as the photograph below will attest.

Brookdale Station, showing the clearing for the tennis courts and the Brookdale Trestle, at right. (Courtesy SC Libraries)
This aerial photograph shows Brookdale on May 14, 1911 with the trestle visible at right. From the image, it appears that the trestle ran along an extended fill north of Brookdale Station before finally descending into a causeway raised atop wooden pilings. This explains the strange perspective shift. The fill and causeway are not visible in the photograph above. A steel or wooden truss bridge then connects the causeway to Huckleberry Island over the river. Comparing photographs, the truss bridge is almost certainly made of wood despite its design, as the photograph above would be taken directly under this section of the bridge and no metal is visible. The long section of fill from Brookdale was likely a recent addition in 1911, as the narrow-gauge track likely just had an extended wood-pier causeway.

The north bank of the Brookdale Trestle, as published as a postcard. The tent on the land is currently a clearing, behind which can be seen the pilings for the trestle. Notice also the wood truss bridge and the large wooden block pier.
The approach to the river from Brookdale Station. See the rows of piers heading down the fill (at least five rows are visible). Under the tree, it looks like the original wood-block pier may also have survived, albeit with a splitting headache.
Buried in 80 years of brush, the shadows of three redwood piers still stand vigilant under a nonexistent trestle on the north bank of the San Lorenzo River across from Brookdale on Huckleberry Island.
Today, multiple rows of four sawed-off pilings can be seen at beyond the end of the original fill north of Brookdale along the right-of-way and on the opposite bank of the river. The wooden block-piers are gone and must have been removed or washed away. The trestle itself had a slight curve to it along the causeway making finding the end of the trestle a bit of a challenge. This is exacerbated by the fact that northern end of the trestle is on private property in an extremely private community. Upon investigation, however, it is clear that the trestle remained on wood piers throughout and ended at a cut made in the north-east part of Huckleberry Island.


  1. Derek,

    You have my exclusive permission to enter, and document.

    Martin McGuire #9 Huckleberry Island

  2. Very kind of you, Martin! I grew up in Brookdale and used to occasionally ride my bike around the Huckleberry Island road loop - it's a very special place. - Craig

  3. I hiked there last week and took some photos of the cut, which was found on an old washed out fire road beyond the house at the top of the hill. A resident said it was fine to go up there since nobody has lived there all year. I was a bit surprised at the size of the cut. It's deep, though not deep enough to need a tunnel.

  4. Hi Derek,

    Well ok then. I have been assuming a tunnel. I have not been able to see this cut you are describing. You must have found a good way to view it, or it has been filled in.

    Thanks for the maps, and everything!


    1. It is fully exposed, though a bit has been filled in for a (now washed out) road. Go to the top of the Breed property, into the driveway at to the left of the house at the end. There is a very short road that dips into the cut.

    2. The terrain on the south side appears the same in both the old postcard looking upstream, and the photo recently taken. The first set of timber on the slope would still be part of the wooden block, with the front of the block at river's edge. The third set of timber is the trestle where it is level with the flat area that the tent stood upon. It is exactly how it was.