Friday, June 12, 2015


The small city of Marina located on the northern fringe of the Monterey metropolitan area began life as an outlying property of Fort Ord in the 1840s and the ranchos of David Jacks and James Bardin. In 1885 and 1886, Bardin sold most of his land to various farmers, livestock farmers, and the San Francisco Sand Company. The rest of the land remained undeveloped. William Locke-Paddon purchased in 1913 a 1,500 acre parcel near the beach which he initially named "Locke-Paddon Colonies", though it quickly became known as "Paddonville". Locke-Paddon planned to subdivide the property into 5-acre plots for families to create small farms, but few people were interested and the area did not develop quickly.

Soon after the town was established, a flag-stop under the same name opened alongside the Southern Pacific Railroad's Monterey Branch near the intersection of Del Monte Boulevard and Reservation Road under the name "Paddonville". Locke-Paddon didn't like the name and changed it to "Marina' in 1918, with a post office under that name being registered in April 1919. Curiously, the town did not have, nor ever has had, a marina, but the name stuck all the same. The primary purpose of the flag-stop was to attract Bay Area vacationers to move into the seaside settlement, but Locke-Paddon still had little success. He parcelled out land for a school and church, attracting some of the military staff officers from nearby Fort Ord began moving into some of the lots. The post office expanded into a general store in 1920 with petroleum service installed soon afterwards to attract the increasing automobile traffic.

Comparison photograph of Marina station in 1948 and the station site in 2005.
(Top photograph by Paul Loyola Henchey, bottom by Pat Hathaway)
By 1926, 70 families lived in town and the area was finally seeing development. More roads were added connecting Marina to Fort Ord and Camp Gigling and the coming of World War II turned Marina into a place where soldiers on leave could pass the time. The railroad upgraded its station in 1926 to full service with scheduled stops and a 450-foot-long spur was installed beside the tracks to park freight cars for local produce shipments. A freight tool shed was established atop a short platform at the end of the spur by 1948, although no passenger platform or shelter was ever erected. The spur was extended by 1951 into a 650-feet siding before being reduced to 400-feet in 1954. The Paradise Lodge, the first large hotel in the city, opened in 1953. Meanwhile, the Del Monte Special brought in many visitors each week.

The town finally incorporated as a city in 1975. However, railroading had ended by this time. Passenger service on the Monterey Branch ended in May 1971 and freight service became infrequent. From 1963 to 1996, Marina remained on the freight schedule but the siding went into disuse and may have been removed. Fort Ord closed in 1991 but in 1994 California State University, Monterey Bay, opened on a part of the former base and the city evolved into a college town. Today, the area around Marina is still largely undeveloped swampland and sand dunes, but a small commercial center and thriving residential population has turned it into a safe and popular area for families.

Official Railroad Information:
Nothing appears in railroad timetables or agency books until the 1910s regarding Marina. The station first appeared in Agency Books as "Mile Marker 117" in 1916 and then became "Paddonville" the following year. From 1919, the station was named "Marina". It was located 117.3 miles from San Francisco via Castroville, Gilroy, and San Jose. It was 11.0 miles from the Lake Majella end-of-track. A 9-carlength spur was associated with it since at least 1937 and that spur was extended into a 13-carlength siding by 1951. Curiously, in 1940 and 1954 Marina was listed only as an Additional Station. In 1954 the siding was reduced to 8 carlengths, although it remained a siding, and from 1963 no siding or spur were associated with the stop. The station remained on timetables until the end of Southern Pacific ownership of the line in 1996. Whether it appeared on Union Pacific Railroad timetables afterwards is unknown, but the branch was spiked at Castroville in 1999.

Geo-Coordinates & Access Rights:
36.687˚N, 121.800˚W

The site of Marina station is beside the tracks between Del Monte Boulevard and Marina Drive, approximately at the latter road's northern terminus. A Starbucks is across the street from it and there are no access restrictions to the location. Nothing remains of the stop except the tracks.

The site of Marina Station at the northern end of Marina Drive. (Google StreetView)
Citations & Credits:


  1. The correct date for the end of passenger service on the Monterey branch of Southern Pacific
    was with the final run of the Del Monte on April 30, 1971. I was on board this train, which
    interestingly enough, made an unscheduled stop at Marina to pick up a passenger before
    continuing to another stop at Del Monte station then to Monterey, 10 minutes late. If you will
    turn to page 101 of Norman Holmes's book, PRUNE COUNTRY RAILROADING, you will
    find confirmation on this. On May 1, 1971, Amtrak took over most of this country's passenger
    train system and the Monterey branch was not a part of their system. Southern Pacific, long
    awaiting the opportunity to get out of the passenger business, now had only the San Francisco-
    San Jose commuter train service to operate. Amtrak took over operation of some of the S.P.
    long distance passenger trains but eliminated others such as the Del Monte.

    1. And technically the Del Monte should not have been touched as its route length excluded it from Amtrak's definition toward claiming as an intercity and not a commuter train; it was a 'backroom deal' that finished service to Monterey. By 1974 there was a drive to have service returned with the director of the Quail Lodge (of Carmel Valley) leading the way.

  2. Very helpful and interesting history of Marina. Thank you.


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.