Friday, May 8, 2015

Morocojo & Nashua

1948 USGS Map showing Nashua station on Nashua Road
(former Pajaro Valley Consolidated Railroad right-of-way).
The small settlement of Rancho Bolsa del Potrero y Moro Cojo, also known as La Sagrada Familia or more simply, Morocojo, began life as a Mexican rancho. The original grant was for 6,916 acres on the north side of the Salinas River near its outlet to the Monterey Bay. It was one of the earliest confirmed Mexican land grants in the state, given in 1822 by Governor Pablo Vicente de Solá to José Joaquín de la Torre. Its neighbor to the north was the similarly named Rancho Bolsa Nueva y Moro Cojo.

Torre had been a Spanish soldier and the alcade (mayor) of Monterey before becoming the secretary of Governor Solá. He was married to Maria Los Angeles Cota in 1803. Torre may never have settled on the property and sold it to an Englishman, John Bautista Rogers Cooper, in 1839. Torre later was granted Rancho Arroyo Seco and settled there in the 1840s. Cooper was not just any settler, he was a captain of a ship and the son-in-law of General Mariano Guadalupe Vallejo. He settled on Potrero y Moro Cojo and his property was patented by the United States government in 1859.

Cooper had died in 1872 but he left two daughters behind who undoubtedly inherited the land. Whether a station was erected at this time is not presently known to this historian, but it seems possible. Around 1880, a connecting line between Castroville and the Monterey & Salinas Valley Railroad track at Bardin's was built across the Cooper family land. It passed directly through the heart of the rancho, requiring a long and disruptive easement, and it seems most likely that the family negotiated a stop for their agricultural products in exchange. The fact that the station was known as Morocojo, the name of the rancho, until 1912 reinforces this point.

When the Pajaro Valley Railroad passed through in 1891, it originally ended at the Morocojo junction with the now-Southern Pacific Railroad's Monterey Branch. Over the next decade, the route was extended to Spreckles near Salinas, with the two railroad lines more or less quartering Rancho Morocojo. Southern Pacific timetables noted the crossing with the Pajaro Valley Consolidated Railroad in its timetables, although there appears to have been little interchange here. The PVCRR did not even note the crossing, placing its Moro Cojo stop slightly to the southeast near a second stop for the rancho named Cooper. The PVCRR maintained a total of five stops within the rancho, although by this point the rancho property had probably been divided into various smaller parcels. Claus Spreckels leased portions of the property to grow sugar beats for his two local refineries and likely used these five stops to make shipments out of the area easier. The Southern Pacific station may have been used for similar purposes by Spreckels, especially prior to 1891.

For another decade, Morocojo remained a stop on the Monterey Branch until the railroad inexplicably in 1912 renamed the station Nashua. Nashua remains even today an unincorporated community in Monterey County, but there is almost nothing there anymore. Presumably more was there in the 1910s-1930s, but it seems doubtful there was ever a thriving town. In the USGS map for 1948, only the station and a few small structures are noted at the site of the junction. It is possible the area was more popular prior to 1929 when the Pajaro Valley Consolidated Railroad shut down. Once the crossing was closed and the right-of-way converted into Nashua Road, the locals only had the Southern Pacific Railroad to haul its goods. With the Great Depression starting at the same time, exports from the area undoubtedly declined, while the rise of the automobile and automated farming likely ended any need for the station. By 1951, Nashua no longer appeared in timetables.

A Google Streetview image of the Nashua Station site. The tracks now sit beneath Nashua Road, the former right-of-way
of the Pajaro Valley Railroad. The signal sits idle, turned away, its crossing gate long removed.
Official Railroad Information:
Mojocojo probably appeared in timetables as early as 1874, when the Salinas Valley Railroad first passed through the area. By 1899, it had a class-A freight platform but no other facilities at the site. It was located 112.4 miles from San Francisco via Castroville, Gilroy, and San José, and it acted as the crossing station for the Pajaro Valley Consolidated Railroad. The station served primarily as a flag-stop but did appear on timetables with a schedule. It was 18.0 miles from Lake Majella. Mojocojo was renamed Nashua in 1912.

Nashua was located 112.3 miles from San Francisco via Castroville, Gilroy, and San José. The station was reduced to a C-class freight station in the 1920s, although it retained its platform. The facilities there in 1940 included a 14 car-length siding (~700 feet) and both passenger and freight facilities. Nashua as a geographic location appears to have disappeared in the late 1940s as it ceased appearing on timetables in 1951.

Geo-Coordinates & Access Rights:
36.741˚, -121.765˚

The site of Nashua Station is located at the eastern corner of Nashua Road with Monte Road. Today, there is only a field there, with a small maintenance facility located just to the east of it. The railroad tracks no longer cross the road, being paved over in the 1990s, and the signals, still present, are turned away, their bars removed.

Citations & Credits:

  • Still looking for better sources!

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