Friday, November 27, 2015


Carnadero Station on the 1939 San Juan Bautista USGS Map.
In the open fields to the south of Gilroy sits the lone remnants of a little-used railroad station that goes by the name of Carnadero. Named after a Spanish word that means either "bait maker" or "butchering place", a likely reference to a nearby tributary of the Pajaro River called Carnadero Creek (or Uvas Creek), Carnadero Station first appeared in Southern Pacific Railroad records in 1871. Early that year, the railroad completed its track through the area on its way to Hollister and Tres Piños at the southern end of the Santa Clara Valley. Soon afterwards, Carnadero Station was established as the start of a new branch line to the town of Pajaro and (eventually) to Salinas. By 1873, this route became the main line of the railroad and the route to Tres Piños became a branch.

The area around Carnadero is the former Rancho Cañada de Las Uvas (Rancho Canyon of the Grapes), originally owned in 1842 by Lorenzo Pinedo. It was later sold to Bernard Murphy and it passed to his son Martin John Charles Murphy in 1860. It was his family that still owned the land when the railroad passed through. Pinedo and Murphy were both famous for growing grapes in the region, a practice that began in the mission days. Thus if any industry operated out of Carnadero, it was probably this. In contrast, the "butchering" reference in nearby Carnadero Creek actually dates to the Portola Expedition and, therefore, predates any later land usage. Local agricultural and pastoral farms sprang up along the railroad track in the area, so it should not be surprising to find a freight platform at Carnadero in 1899. What precisely was shipped out from this point is not known, but the numerous buildings are shown to sit alongside the tracks, Carnadero Avenue, and Carnadero Creek from the 1913 to 1939 USGS survey maps. Some maps even suggest an unincorporated township resided along the state highway which was about a mile away from the station.

For many years the station saw a lot of passing trains, but by the 1930s service to the stop had all but ceased. Except for some freight and local passenger customers, the station does not appear to have attracted any significant groups. Picnickers preferred more scenic spots such as Sargent or Chittenden, while most freight customers could just as easily go to Gilroy three miles to the north. The station remained on timetables but only as a flag-stop. When the double-track was installed from Gilroy to Sargent, any siding or spur at Carnadero was removed and none is ever shown on USGS maps. The truncation of the Tres Piños Branch to Hollister in 1942 also likely reduced active traffic at the stop. Although Carnadero remains a registered station on Union Pacific Railroad timetables, it is unlikely that it receives regular customers and there are currently no facilities at the station to permit freight or passenger loading. It seems to remain a stop only because of the Hollister Branch.

Official Railroad Information:
Carnaderos was established around June 1871 along the mainline of the Southern Pacific Railroad track. In November 1871, the route to Pajaro was opened with its junction to the main line at Carnadero. In August 1873, the Pajaro route became the main line and the other route became the Tres Piños Branch (Hollister Branch from August 1942 to today). As of 1899, Carnadero had a C-class freight station, which implies a siding or a spur and a small freight platform but no formal service. The presence of a station structure at any time in its history is not known. The station was located 83.2 miles from San Francisco via San José. By 1937 a double-track running from Gilroy to Sargent passed through Carnadero, probably replacing the siding or spur that was originally there as it is no longer referenced. A phone was the only listed service at the stop and no passenger or freight stops were scheduled, although the station served as a flag-stop for all passing passenger trains. Little has changed at Carnadero since 1940 and it still remains an officially-registered Union Pacific Railroad station and the junction for the Hollister Branch.

Geo-Coordinates & Access Rights:
36.976˚N, 121.543˚W

Carnadero Station is located at the break of Carnadero Avenue, a dirt road south of Gilroy. Take the Bolsa Road exit on State Route 101 and head south on Bolsa Road—Carnadero Ave will be on the left (east). Beside the tracks is a large clearing on either side of the road and the triple-track junction of the Hollister Branch with the mainline. It is unclear what the ownership status of the surrounding property is so caution is advised. As usual, this is an active track so do not trespass on or across the tracks.

Citations & Credits:
  • Nanney, Duncan. Personal correspondence.
  • Robertson, Donald B. Encylopedia of Western Railroad History: Oregon, Washington. Caxton Press, 1986.

1 comment:

  1. Carnadero is just south of Gilroy and north of the Miller/Nema stops. It
    is located within Rancho Las Animas and originally granted to Mariano Castro in 1802. In 1835, Castro's widow sold the rancho to Don Jose Maria Sanchez.
    And in 1859, Henry Miller made his first purchase of 1,800 acres of the rancho which became the Bloomfield Ranch. Carnadero was at the split of the mainline heading south and the branch line heading to Hollister.


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