Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Public Announcement

Me in front of the southern portal of the Mountain
Charlie tunnel in summer, 2013.
Since 2010, I have been researching the historic railroad lines of Santa Cruz County. It should come as no surprise to anybody that the intent of this research all along has been to write a book. In fact, I hope that someday two books may come out of this research. For the time being, however, only one book is planned: Santa Cruz Trains: Railroads of the Santa Cruz Mountains.

This book will be a roughly 250-page reference book documenting the history of the various lines between the Santa Cruz wharves and Vasona Junction near Los Gatos. It will focus primarily on the stops, trestles, and tunnels along the route, though it will also include a section devoted to those wishing to explore the right-of-way as it currently exists. Furthermore, the book will include GPS coordinates for every location mentioned in the book (where possible) and information regarding access rights to those locations. Finally, there will be photographs. LOTS of photographs. What is a railroad history book without pictures, right? I've been working closely with the staff of the Santa Cruz Museum of Art & History, the San Lorenzo Valley Museum, the Los Gatos History Museum, and local historians in obtaining new and previously unpublished photographs of the route, including pictures of the state of the route during its unfortunate closure in 1940. Many of these have already been posted to this site, but there are many more to come in the future.

To help support this project, I have opened up a new blog at which will be where I post progress reports, updates, and new discoveries, as well as questions for the public. Unlike my primary blog at, this new blog will be more of an open discussion forum for local railroad and regional historians. Feel free to comment on any related subject to any post in the blog. I will try to keep people apprised of my research and writing in the meantime.

This website, as always, will continue to be updated beginning this month with new content regarding the Ocean Shore and Coast Line Railroads, the Santa Cruz Railroad, the Aptos Branch, and the private lumber lines along all of the aforementioned lines. This website will continue to expand over the next few years until every station, stop, spur, siding, railroad company, connected logging mill, trestle, tunnel, wharf, and pier is accounted for. This website is not complete until the entire Santa Cruz County network of railroads is documented.

So stay tuned and hang on for a long and winding ride through the history of Santa Cruz County railroading. And follow my progress blog which will soon have a home at the top of my primary site. Thank you loyal readers and keep giving me all you've got!

Derek Ryan Whaley

P.S. Feel free to email or snail mail me with information, as well, if you do not feel comfortable publicly posting information or material.


  1. I look forward to reading what you have discovered. I am a direct descendant of the Martin family of Glenwood.
    Ned Rice

  2. I too look forward to this book as I lived across the road from the zyante stop in Felton. There is still a house there that was a bordello/bar for the single men on the train to go to while the families ate and played together waiting for the train to take off again.

    1. I'm curious to know exactly where this place is. I know the valley is filled with historical buildings, but since there are at least five stops in the Zayante area, I'm not sure which one of those stops you are referring to. Any information would be much appreciated.

  3. I have bookmarked your articles. You do a nice job of writing and our area history is pretty amazing and it is great to have it unearthed. As a long time local real estate broker I come across places the public doesn't often get to go and see. Some of which are properties that have or were reputed to have local history connected. The Aptos and Rio Del Mar area has quite a both with Hihn and Spreckles doing much business in the area. I am surprised there weren't more train routes in Soquel and the area with as much terrain and I presume lumber that the area had. Soquel being quite the hub of industry south of Santa Cruz before Capitola was even a thought. I think there were at one point 7 different mills going on Soquel Creek..


    Gregg Camp
    Rio Del Mar

    1. The railroad stuck close to the coast mostly in the Soquel area, but it did (still does, in fact) go through downtown Aptos. A spur ran straight into the Forest of Nisene Marks where there were two separate milling companies operating, one by Hihn (the Valencia) and the other by the Molino Timber Company. Both are well-documented in Rick Hamman's California Central Coast Railways. I have yet to heavily explore that area but I would not be surprised to discover numerous other spurs that supported local lumber operations.

  4. Derek,

    My wife had found and shared this site with me, and I wanted to give you an "atta-boy"!

    I grew up in Almaden Valley, along and near the SPCRR branch line out there for the Quicksilver mine.

    I share an affinity for the SPCRR, but also your stated focus on the places associated with the line, not necessarily (or only) the minutia of the SPCRR itself.

    I'd be very happy to join in any legwork developing material on the line if that would be of assistance. I had personally noted that, while Bruce MacGregor had personal ties to the subject matter, and links to other people who had their own links, it might be time to make use of "modern technology" and have a website -- like you've got here -- to solicit pictures and stories from local folks who may have some previously unknown pictures and stories of parts of the line?

    I'd bet there are written accounts, for instance, in letters and such describing a summer retreat up at Wright's ... or swimming in the water tower at "Tank Siding" ... or some such, if only they could be prompted from folks?

    Just an idea anyway. Let me know if I could be of assistance! :-)

    1. Thank you for your support, Kevin. I'd love any help I can get, though I cannot think of anything specific at this time. Just keep your ears and eyes open for material you haven't seen or heard of before and send me a line if you find anything. I thought originally of including the New Almaden line but it's just too far outside my area of expertise. MacGregor has been a great help to the site, but I agree more must be done to broaden the scope of knowledge concerning these abandoned lines. New Almaden and the entire Mayfield Cutoff lines could use websites of their own.

  5. The picture: Is this Wright's Station, where there was a stream here? If so, has drought dried it up? I am confused by "south" Los Gatos would be south and Santa Cruz north? I like the chalk cliffs just past Olympia/

    1. The photograph's caption says it all: Mountain Charlie Tunnel, south portal. The tunnel runs under Mountain Charlie Road north of Scotts Valley near the former site of Glenwood (still a geographic location on Google Maps).