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Conejo, CA; ghost town on the rails

While looking at old maps of Fresno County I noticed several old rail siding towns along what was Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe (ATSF) line south of Fresno.  Most of the rail siding towns no longer exist or were just a collection of small residences, but one caught my eye with Conejo.


The rail siding Conejo is located at the junction of Conejo Avenue and Peach Avenue alongside what is now the BNSF tracks south of Fresno.  Conejo was established as a rail siding town of the ATSF when the line expanded into rural Fresno County in 1897.  Conejo was one of many rail siding towns the ATSF established south of Fresno, others would include; Oleander, Bowles, and Monmouth.  All rail ATSF rail sidings south of Fresno are shown as present on the 1911 map of Fresno County.

1911 Fresno County Map 

Rail siding towns were common along early rail lines which ran steam locomotives.  Steam locomotives required far more maintenance than modern diesel locomotives than modern diesel locomotives do.  Rail siding towns were often established as company towns with the sole purpose of serving locomotives running on a particular line.  By the 1930s diesel locomotives were becoming far more established which led to the decline to the rail siding town.  This is reflective on the 1935 California Division of Highways Map of Fresno County which shows most of the ATSF much less prominently.

1935 Fresno County Highway Map

Oddly the ATSF rail siding towns in Fresno County largely still exist in some form or fashion.  Most have little to no evidence servicing steam locomotives but Conejo does.  As I approached Conejo eastbound on Conejo Avenue there was actually a train passing by.


As I was crossing the BNSF lines I was hoping the utility box displayed Conejo, CA but it only displayed Conejo Avenue.



Conejo isn't signed as a place anymore but the street grid is still present.  Topeka Avenue served as a Main Street for Conejo and runs along the tracks.


There is still a relic commercial building along Topeka Avenue which has a faded sign that reads "Gen Merchandise."  Conejo Apparently had a Post Office which was in operation until the early 1920s.


Topeka Avenue has a lot of old crates and various storage yards and is in really haggard shape.  Topeka Avenue ends at Peach Avenue.



Along Peach Avenue I spotted an old broken derelict truck and an abandoned home ready cave in.



There was even an old water tower at the junction of Conejo Avenue and Peach Avenue.  It's hard to believe that Conejo was probably once a bustling little town much like nearby Fowler and Selma.


Update 6/27/20:  I made a return to Conejo to what had become of the community since the High Speed Rail project was constructing an overpass through the former siding facility.  Suffice to say the difference seen along Topeka Avenue was quite substantial.





Comments

Dean Neighbors said…
I just found this story that you wrote in 2018. I lived in Conejo from 1949 to about 1953 (18 months old to 4 years old). Our little house was situated on 3 acres on topeka ave right on the junction of Peach Ave. There was a grocery store on the corner of Conejo and Peach owned and operated by a woman named Maggie Down. ....and there was a potato warehouse along the railroad siding. As far as I don't remember trains stopping in Conejo but they must have been stopping at the potato shed...I'll have to ask my older sister...she worked there as a teen. Loved your story, thanks. Regards, Dean Neighbors.

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