Friday, January 30, 2015

San Andreas & Ellicott

Ellicott on the Southern Pacific line, 1914. (USGS)
Rancho San Andrés, frequently spelled San Andreas (named after the Apostle St. Andrew), was one of the many Castro family properties in Santa Cruz County during the Mexican era of California history. The rancho sat between Manresa Beach to the northwest and Sunset Beach to the southeast. The original land grant was issued in November 1833, one of the first issued in the county, but the property had likely been called San Andrés since the 1820s. When statehood was achieved in 1850, the San Andreas Ranch became a small community along the coast, isolated from its neighbors. Around twenty different businesses were present in the area in 1875 and the settlement had its own school, established in 1861 and consolidated into the Freedom district in 1946. When the Santa Cruz Railroad passed through the area, it is likely a stop was established for the residents. By 1889, after the Southern Pacific acquisition of the line and the line's broad-gauging, a more formal "San Andreas" station was installed. The station was located 107.1 miles from San Francisco via Pajaro Junction and 13.4 miles from Santa Cruz. It had regular passenger service to the site via a flag-stop beside the track. 

A double-header cruising southeast near Ellicott, April 25, 1949. (Wilbur Whittaker Collection)
On January 1, 1892, San Andreas Station became Ellicott, a name of unknown origin. The reason for the change was because there was already a San Andreas Station in the Southern Pacific system. The name of the community changed soon afterwards. When the Mayfield Cut-Off was completed in 1909, the station became 92.5 miles from San Francisco. The stop was a full freight station with at least one siding located on the southwest side of the mainline, and a platform. The siding and any nearby spurs measured a combined 421 feet in 1909. The available siding track was lengthened to 640 feet in 1911. The next year, it was extended again to 936 feet. Ellicott and San Andreas appear to have been primarily an agricultural stop. The Southern Pacific's station in the area until it burned down in January 1906 was a large warehouse. From 1903 to 1906, it was leased to John H. Covell who stored hay in it on behalf of local farmers. The stop is little mentioned after the destruction of the warehouse and it seems to have become more of an informal freight stop thereafter. Around the start of World War II, the US National Guard unit stationed at Camp McQuaide had an access road installed to Ellicott Station from their base in Capitola. Presumably Ellicott offered the best siding access for the loading and unloading of military equipment, despite the fact that the station was many miles away from the camp. This arrangement ended in the early 1950s.

Though regularly-scheduled passenger service along the line had ended in 1938, Ellicott was still an active freight station at the time World War II started in late 1941. When it was finally abandoned as a stop is not presently known by this author, though the last mention of the station in newspapers is in 1973. The location of the stop was just north of the junction of San Andreas Road and Buena Vista Drive near Freedom.


  • Clark, Donald. Santa Cruz County Place Names: A Geographical Dictionary. Scotts Valley, CA: Kestrel Press, 2007.


  1. Ellicott is still shown on the Coast Division Timetable # 178 of September 27, 1959 with a
    siding capacity of 12 cars. The next Coast Division Timetable I have is # 185 for April 28, 1963.
    Ellicott is no longer listed in this timetable.

  2. That picture: baggage car and day coaches are a strange mix.

    The 'return' of the Suntan Special was at an odd time, especially since the direct route was abandoned for no real reason (although, those tunnels were a problem due to earthquakes and maybe pockets of explosive gas. Plans for the reservoir thirteen years out, might have even been voiced.)

    Does "regularly-scheduled passenger service" not include the Suntan because it only raced along the branch without stopping at smaller platforms? I'm guessing that this might be the case; 1959 was the actual end of service, I think. Was the resurrected Suntan a regular train, or another excursion train?

    1. Suntans Specials were "specials", which means they were not regularly-scheduled, though during the summers you could say they were "regularly-scheduled", just not in the technical sense. It only stopped at Watsonville, Aptos, Capitola, Casino, Santa Cruz, and, on request, Big Trees (North Gate). It also only ran on Sundays. Other excursion trains ran year-round.

      The explosive gases weren't a problem after 1893 when the gas leak was bricked in and then concreted over. Slides were always a problem, though, and were what really ended the line. Well, that and sinks, washouts, etc.

  3. hello. i saw a framed small poster for sale that said "return of the suntan special" kind of cool, wish i had bought it. i cant find it on google. have you seen anything like that? do you think its rare? thanks


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