Friday, October 16, 2015


For around twenty years, there sat on the east side of Elkhorn Slough along the mainline of the Southern Pacific Railroad's Coast Division a station that went by the simple name Lyda. Despite appearing on railroad timetables, albeit without any regularly-scheduled stops or associated facilities, literally nothing is known specifically about this stop except where it was located. Even the name is a bit of a mystery. It first appeared in Southern Pacific Railroad agency books in July 1916 and it disappeared from records between 1937 and 1940.

Speculation is really all that can be said about this station. The name may derive from a local property owner or from the actress, Lyda Borelli, who was very popular in the mid-1910s. The purpose of the station, being located on solid land and surrounded by Elkhorn Slough, was probably as a duck-hunting lodge much like the Miller's Gun Club located further to the south. Remnants of a nearby pier have been discovered, although this specific pier appears to be more recent than the 1930s, but it does suggest that boating also occurred in the area, probably related to the gun club. That being said, the stop may have just as easily catered to the farm located on the east side of the tracks, although there does not appear to be much evidence for an industrial stop there and any industrial stop on the mainline would have had a spur or siding, neither of which Lyda had. The fact that the railroad had been built over forty years before the stop first appeared discounts the option that it was simply a private flag-stop for the local property owner—that arrangement would have existed since the installation of the tracks. One last option is that Lyda was involved in some capacity as a nitrate shipping site for material mined out of the nearby Azevedo Pond, although this seems unlikely for the 1910s.

Unfortunately, as has been the case with several stops in and around Santa Cruz County, this station remains a bit of a mystery and will likely remain that way until Monterey newspapers are made more easily available (i.e., outside of microfilm collections in public libraries) or somebody comes forward with new information.

Official Railroad Information: 
Of the official railroad information accessible to this historian, Lyda only appears in one agency book and on one timetable. The agency book shows it first appearing in July 1916 at 104 miles south of San Francisco along the mainline. The timetable lists it in March 1937. It does not appear in the 1940 timetable. On the 1937 timetable, the station is shown to be 103.6 miles south of San Francisco via Watsonville Junction, Gilroy, and San José. Its nearest stations are Watsonville Junction to the north and Elkhorn to the south. No services or facilities are noted at the station nor was there a siding or a spur.

Geo-Coordinates & Access Rights:
36.85˚N, 121.76˚W

The site of Lyda Station is located along Elkhorn Slough, opposite a privately-owned field on Elkhorn Road. The right-of-way through this area is still in regular use by the Union Pacific Railroad but there are trails that follow alongside the tracks for those wishing to visit the site. Access is made most easily from Kirby Park to the south, at which point one follows the tracks northward alongside the slough for almost exactly one mile. The tracks will bank to the right once and then straighten out. When it does this a second time you are at the approximate location of Lyda. All of the land on the west side of the tracks are a part of the Elkhorn Slough Preserve. From Google Maps satellite view, it appears that nothing remains of the stop except, perhaps, a tiny clearing immediately to the east of the tracks and a small mound on the west side where a station shelter may have sat.

Citations & Credits:

  • Nanney, Duncan. Personal correspondence.
  • Southern Pacific Railroad documents.


  1. It is definitely adjacent to the old Azevedo Ranch. Don't know if that ranch is still in the Azevedo family or not.

  2. I explored the area where Lyda is located and found the site of a gate just a few feet west of
    the small mound on the west side of the railroad track. There was an obvious gap in what had been a fence along with a metal pole which clearly had once held up a gate from which it would
    have swung open and closed. It was hard to tell what structures had been at this site but there
    were fence posts going in odd directions and a small pier which had been recently rebuilt.


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