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Kerman Branch Railroad (Southern Pacific Railroad)

Over this weekend I explored part of the former path of the Kerman Branch Railroad between Caruthers and Raisin City in Fresno County, California.

The photo above is the former Kerman Branch Railroad grade in Raisin City.  The Kerman Branch Railroad was a spur line of the Southern Pacific Railroad which was routed from Kerman southeast to Armona.  The Kerman Branch was part of what was originally the San Pablo & Tulare Railroad of the Central Pacific Railroad which was incorporated in 1871.   The original route of the San Pablo & Tulare Railroad was completed by 1878 between Martinez southeast to Tracy.  In 1885 the Central Pacific Railroad began to be operated by the Southern Pacific Railroad which included the San Pablo & Tulare Railroad.  The extension of the San Joaquin & Tulare Railroad southeast to Kern County was announced in early 1887.  By the time the San Joaquin & Tulare Railroad had been  nearly built southeast to Newman in May of 1888 when the Central Pacific was consolidated into the Southern Pacific Railroad.  This 1891 map of Fresno County published by Atlas Maps shows the San Pablo & Tulare Railroad completed to Armona.

A full version of the 1891 Atlas Map of Fresno County can be viewed below:

1891 Fresno County Map

In 1891 a line between what is now Kerman east to Fresno connected the San Pablo & Tulare Railroad to the Southern Pacific main freight line through San Joaquin Valley.  The route of the San Pablo & Tulare Railroad came to be known in time as the Kerman Branch.  The Kerman Branch was routed through the following sidings headed southeast towards Armona:

-  Kerman to McMullin
-  McMullin to Raisin City
-  Raisin City to Caruthers
-  Caruthers to Cando
-  Cando to Illis
-  Illis over the Kings River into Kings County
-  The Kings River to Hardwick
-  Hardwick to Kimble
-  Kimble to Armona

The Kerman Branch in it's prime can be seen on a 1914 C.F. Weber Company Map of Fresno County.

The full 1914 C.F. Weber Company Map of Fresno County can be seen below:

1914 Fresno County Map

The Kerman Branch can be seen intact one final time on the 1935 California Division of Highways Map of Fresno County.

A full version of the 1935 California Division of Highways Map of Fresno County can be found below.

1935 Fresno County Highway Map

According to the Kerman Branch was partially abandoned by the Southern Pacific between Caruthers and Hardwick in 1938.  The remainder of the Kerman Branch was abandoned by the Southern Pacific in 1943. on the Kerman Branch

My approach to Caruthers was via Tahoe Avenue headed northeast into downtown.

The grade of the Kerman Branch was located between Henderson Road and Marsh Avenue.  The third photo below shows where the Kerman Branch would have crossed Tahoe Avenue.

From Mountain View Avenue between Henderson Road and Marsh Avenue the grade of the Kerman Branch is fairly obvious as it is presently used as a garbage alley in Caruthers.

Which is fairly obvious still on modern map images.

The Kerman Branch grade would have been routed east of Henderson Road northwest to Raisin City.  Raisin City is presently signed as 5 miles northwest of Caruthers.

Henderson Road ends in Raisin City and makes a right hand turn over the Kerman Branch grade onto Ormus Avenue.  The shape of the northern extent of Raisin City is still aligned with the grade of the Kerman Branch.  The grade of the Kerman Branch is still used in places in Raisin City as farm access road.   Northwest of Raisin City the Kerman Branch would have passed through McMullin before reaching Kerman.

The grade of the Kerman Branch in Raisin City is still obvious on map images.

Raisin City still bears evidence of being a rail siding as the Raisin City Market is clearly late 19th Century/early 20th Century design.


Unknown said…
Wonderful Page 'Challenger Tom'! I come from and live in ireland where all roads and fields are random and almost organic in shape. When I visited my son's wife's folks in Caruthers. I was amazed to find that the streets were at 45 Deg instead of the strict grid everywhere else. I asked "Why I there this beautiful strange angled feature of Caruthers?" They told me "It was the along the old railroad direction, long gone." Finally I found via your excellent page that it was indeed the railway and the direction as shown on the old maps was from North-West to South-East and the maps! I will have a look when I return!
Thank you for making an excellent page. I learnt a lot from it.

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