Friday, May 30, 2014

Moore Creek Trestles

As the Ocean Shore Railroad's Southern Division began its northernly turn toward the Southern Pacific's Coast Line tracks, both lines were forced to bridge the first body of water along a route that would be riddled with creeks and lagoons. Fortunately, a corporate agreement between the two companies ensured that this would be the only creek that the two firms would have to bridge separately. In the end, the Ocean Shore won the battle, but the Coast Line won the war.

At Moore Creek, the border between the northern city limits of the City of Santa Cruz and the vast wilderness of the north coast, the two railroad right-of-ways were within eye-shot of each other, no more than 400 feet apart. Within a quarter of a mile, the two lines would unify as they approached the dairy at Wilder Ranch. The only thing between them was the mill pond and factories of the San Vicente Lumber Company that exclusively used the Ocean Shore's line for lumber between 1909 and 1923. The creek itself was named after Eli Moore, a North Carolinian who moved to Santa Cruz in 1847 and built a ranch on the hill near the current Arboretum. After only a few years on the site, he moved to downtown where he is said to have built one of the first wooden structures in the city (the previous all being made of adobé). Moore died in 1859 but the creek has retained his name ever since.

San Vicente Mill at Antonelli Pond, c. 1910. Parallel tracks in the foreground
are the Coast Line tracks and a siding. (Rick Hamman)
The approximately 225-foot long Ocean Shore Trestle was less a trestle and more of a fill, located along modern-day Delaware Avenue at the southern end of the Antonelli Pond where Moore Creek passes into Natural Bridges State Beach. The trestle was filled very early on, possibly as early as 1905 when the creek was first bridged, and afterwards the creek passed through a culvert under the right-of-way as it did in numerous places along the North Coast. The pond itself was artificial, caused by the earthen works of the fill then used by the San Vicente Lumber Company for its mill pond which serviced their mill located immediately east of the pond. When the lumber company ceased using the Ocean Shore tracks in 1923, the tracks were pulled and the right-of-way was converted into a road named Ocean Shore Boulevard, later Delaware Avenue.

The San Vicente Lumber Company mill pond eventually was renamed the Mazzoni Pond, after a landowner, before it was finally named the Antonelli Pond, for the Antonelli brothers—John, Patrick, and Peter—who owned the adjacent property. They were known for growing and selling begonias in Capitola and they opened a second garden here. In 1980, the western half of the pond was sold to the Land Trust of Santa Cruz County to be built up as a historic landmark.

Southern Pacific's Moore Creek Trestle, c. 2012. (Google Maps)
Just north of the Ocean Shore's trestle, the more formal Coast Line trestle over Moore Creek still sits. Constructed of numerous rows (at least 15) of redwood pilings and cross braces, the 325-foot long trestle was erected by the Southern Pacific around 1906, soon after construction began on the route out of Santa Cruz. For whatever reason, the Coast Line decided that the creek was better spanned than filled here, allowing the lagoon to survive to this day. Unlike the more northern trestles, this span was always a single track bridge with no easement allowed for Ocean Shore trains, which were diverted south along their own track. Mike Dalbey, a Wilder Ranch employee, photographed parts of the trestle recently and noted that Roman numerals are printed on the crossbeams, piers, braces, and bulkheads of the all-wood trestle allowing it to be prefabricated elsewhere and reassembled on site here. The trestle stills remains across the creek and can be most easily viewed from Delaware Avenue or accessed from Natural Bridges Drive. It is the only trestle remaining along the North Coast within Santa Cruz County, the rest being demolished or filled over the past century.

  • Donald Thomas Clark, Santa Cruz County Place Names: A Geographical Dictionary (Scotts Valley, CA: Kestrel Press, 2008)
  • Rick Hamman, California Central Coast Railways (Santa Cruz, CA: Otter B Books, 2002).


  1. There are what appear to be remains of a railroad trestle crossing Antonelli Pond at the base
    of Moore Creek, south of the existing and former Southern Pacific trestle. I have always assumed this had been an Ocean Shore trestle through the area. There are three posts sticking
    up prominently in the middle of Antonelli Pond as well as about ten others almost submerged.
    They are arranged in two rows about the width of a railroad trestle. Some of these can
    be seen looking north from Delaware Avenue. Can anyone confirm this was once an
    Ocean Shore trestle?

  2. Thank you Derek for further researching what I was looking at! You have convinced me
    totally through the map you directed me to that this was never part of a railroad trestle
    and that the Ocean Shore Railroad proceeded through this area just south of the pond
    instead of across the middle of it. What is there LOOKED so suspiciously like part of an old
    railroad trestle!


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