Friday, September 11, 2015

Forest Avenue

1917 Automobile Blue Book showing the Monterey area, with Forest
Avenue visible at left acting as the trunk of 17 Mile Drive.
The Pacific Grove Extension of the Monterey Branch of the Southern Pacific Railroad's Coast Division had hardly been in operation for two years when the small Forest Avenue stop closed its doors. Eponymously named after the nearby Forest Avenue, the station was established probably in 1889 to cater to the local tourist industry and the nearby residences. It appears to have failed in both regards, however, as the stop was removed from timetables in 1891.

The Pacific Grove Retreat Association, which founded Pacific Grove in 1875, used the beach for many of its functions. The Methodist association already drew people from all over the state, and the extension railroad made it much easier for them to access the area. Placing a passenger flag-stop at Forest Avenue directly adjacent to the beach was a natural decision. The Del Monte Hotel accessed the area, too, since Forest Avenue formed a part of the loop that created 17 Mile Drive.

A freight train passing beside Forest Avenue (not visible at right) toward Monterey, 1937. (Wilbur C. Whittaker)
In 1893, just two years after the closure of the station, the PGRA erected a small bathhouse and a short wharf at the beach. Although the railroad station did not last, in all likelihood due to the extremely close proximity to the Pacific Grove depot (it was less than 0.1 miles to the northwest), the location remained popular. William Robson built in 1892 a large commercial building across the street. It later became a grocery store with the Ancient Order of United Workmen and a law office operating on the top floor. The point itself, originally called Point Aulon (Point Abalone in Spanish), remains a popular tourist destination today, even without many of the structures that long littered its rocky terrain.

Lovers' Point Beach and surroundings, c. 1902. (Photo by Clara Sheldon Smith – Viki Sonstegard)
Official Railroad Information:
Excerpt from a panoramic image of Pacific Grove, 1906. The railroad is
at right, with the bath house behind the beach slightly.
(Photo by George Lawrence – Caption by Peter Nurske)
Forest Avenue first appeared on public timetables as an Additional Station in June 1890, although the stop itself likely dated to the opening of the Pacific Grove Extension in late 1889. The stop was located midway between Pacific Grove and Cypress Park, roughly 127.5 miles from San Francisco via Castroville, Pajaro, Gilroy, and San José. It was among the first new stations to be removed from the timetables, disappearing by June 1891.

Geo-Coordinates & Access Rights:
High waves hitting the Lovers' Point bath house, c. 1900. (
36.625˚N, 121.916˚W

The site of Forest Avenue station is at the end of Forest Avenue in Pacific Grove, along the Monterey Bay Coastal Trail. A parking lot on the south side of the tracks likely marks the station site since a cliff is immediately opposite the lot. It is unlikely that any station structure or platform was present at the site considering how short-lived it was, and certainly nothing survives today if there was anything.

Citations & Credits:


  1. The Forest Ave., flagstop was only used by local trains, meaning these trains never left the Monterey branch. Through trains from San Francisco such as the Del Monte never stopped at this Flagstop.

    Forest Avenue was just a spot along the railroad track. There was never a depot or a station sign erected at this location. Passenger simply requested a stop and stepped off the train, or stood at trackside to get picked up by one of the local trains.

    1. I wonder if there was an obligation placed on the railroad to provide service and then discontinue that service as the Monterey and Pacific Grove Street Railway began its run. The stops for the Custom House, Cypress Park and Forest Avenue are all similar in having brief life spans. Maybe there are other 'flag-stops' that fall within short city block distances from one another.

  2. The 1937 Wilbur C. Whittaker photo from on top of the train shows a track alignment that existed before the 1960s. The track was leveled, a retaining wall constructed between the street and the track, and the section of straight was rebuilt as a long S-curve. This may have been performed around 1955 with the switch to less powerful diesels; a date may exist somewhere in the concrete wall that is still being used for the recreational path.

    1. Wrong. This photo was taken east of Cypress Park, in the 7th Street area, and not of Forest Avenue. Strange to imagine the 'yard limit' sign being that far away from the last switch, but the undeveloped rocky hill is that which is between 6th and 7th Streets. This would be the way that this section looked and nothing seems to have been developed further over the years, in other words, ignore my last post.

    2. And I'm wrong again. It is not so strange to have the yard limit sign this far away; I'm now noticing the long distances at which these signs are placed. The other yard limit sign was next to the Asilomar flag-stop.

      I'm still certain that this photo was taken east of Cypress Park.


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