Friday, May 23, 2014

Wrigley & Swift Street Sidings

Along the Southern Pacific Railroad's Coast Line right-of-way just before crossing Moore Creek sits the historic Wrigley Factory and it's sidings near Swift Street. The Wrigley building, located on the north side of the tracks, is one of the largest structures in the city of Santa Cruz. It still sits, partially occupied by small local businesses under the name University Business Park, just east of the the city limits on the West Side of town.

The entrance to the Santa Cruz Wrigley plant, 26 April 1955,
with tour guides ready for customers. (Covello Collection)
The plant was built by the William Wrigley Jr. Company around 1955. Wrigley was founded in 1892 and was based out of Chicago, Illinois, and the chewing gum company built three factories across the United States, with the other two located in Chicago and Gainesville, Georgia. The Santa Cruz factory produced roughly 20 million sticks of chewing gum a day over its forty years in operation and in the 1960s and 1970s it was the largest corporate employer in Santa Cruz County, only being downgraded in subsequent years because of the tech boom. Unfortunately, in mid-1996, Wrigley announced the closure of the Santa Cruz plant due to a significant decrease in demand for gum west of the Rocky Mountains. Company officials reported that the Santa Cruz factory was functioning at less than 60 percent capacity and that the cost of shipping ingredients to Santa Cruz was becoming too high.

Liquid cars parked behind a diesel engine beside the Wrigley plant, 2010. The
siding runs under the eaves at left. (1TrickPony at West Coast Rail
The little-noticed Wrigley Siding sits behind, or rather to the south, of the Wrigley building, occupying the long narrow corporate parking lot for the current University Business Park. The paved-over remains of the siding still hug close to the side of the building, the tops of the tracks visible between asphalt. The siding itself has been disconnected from the adjacent Davenport branch tracks, though the rough location where they connected with the main line can be projected from aerial imaging. The tracks were used for loading freight containers for shipments to local distributors, with direct access to the interior of the plant from the loading docks. Three covered porches visible on Google Maps still marks the locations of those loading docks.

Cement car and diesel engine on the Swift Street Spur, 2010.
(1TrickPony at West Coast Rail
Just to the east of the Wrigley Siding, the siding popularly known as the "Swift Street Siding" sits idle. This siding once allowed Wrigley to park freight cars awaiting pickup on a different stretch of track than their active-use siding beside the plant. This siding may have been more directly connected to the Wrigley Siding in the 1950s and 1960s with freight cars passing from one to the other before passing onto the main track. Unlike the siding beside the plant, the Swift Street siding still exists and in 2012 acted as host to the Iowa Pacific's inaugural Santa Cruz & Monterey Bay Railway train. In recent years, the siding has also been used to park cement and liquid cars bound for or coming from the Davenport cement plant. Freight operations at Davenport ended in 2010 and the siding has seen little use since then, except for the brief event in 2012. The siding is likely to be used again in coming years as local passenger rail projects plan to increase traffic along the North Coast. The siding is located just west of Swift Street off of California Route 1 on the West Side. The Moore Creek Trestle is immediately opposite the western end of the Wrigley Siding.


  • Peter Sinton, "Wrigley's Move Hard to Swallow", San Francisco Chronicle, 1 May 1996 <> (Accessed 23 May 2014).

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