Skip to main content

San Juan Pacific Railway

This past month I stopped in San Juan Bautista of San Benito County to view a historic plaque detailing the history of the San Juan Pacific Railway.


The San Juan Pacific Railway historic plaque is located on former Legislative Route 22/Old San Juan-Hollister Road just east of The Alameda in the City of San Juan Bautista.  The San Juan Pacific Railway plaque is located atop it's former grade.




As noted above the San Juan Pacific Railway ("SJPR") incorporated in 1907 but it only briefs the story of the line.  The San Juan Pacific Railway was standard gauge line built to connect from the Southern Pacific Railroad in Chittenden of Santa Cruz County 7.94 miles southeast to a concrete processing facility in San Juan Canyon near San Juan Bautista.  Said Portland Cement processing facility in San Juan Canyon was originally owned by the San Juan Cement Company which began operations in 1907.

The San Juan Cement Company was not successful and shuttered operations in late November of 1907.  The assets of the San Juan Cement Company were eventually taken over by the Old Mission Cement Company in May of 1912.  The Old Mission Cement Company rebranded the SJPR into the Central California Railroad.  The Old Mission Cement Company built a narrow gauge quarry line east of the processing facility deeper into San Juan Canyon.  The first cement shipments began rolling from San Juan Canyon in 1916 but it wasn't until 1918 that the Old Mission Cement Plant was complete.

The Old Mission Cement Plant extended it's quarry line another 1.5 miles to two new quarries in 1921.  The Old Mission Cement Plant sold out to the Pacific Portland Cement Company in 1927.  The Pacific Portland Cement Company announced it intended to add three additional miles of quarry line in 1929.  The Pacific Portland Cement Company shuttered operations in 1930 due to the economic conditions of the Great Depression.  In 1937-1938 (sources conflict) the standard gauge rails of the Central California Railroad were removed.  The cement processing facility reopened in 1941 under the banner of Ideal Cement which operated to the 1970s when the cement plant was dismantled.

Note; much of the above information on the history of the SJPR was sourced from an article on PacificNG.org on the Old Mission Portland Cement Company.

A limited number of maps show the SJPR.  One such map was the 1920 Denny's Pocket Map of San Benito County which shows the SJPR line ending in San Juan Canyon.


The SJPR also appears on the 1935 California Division of Highways Map of San Benito County.


The alignment of the SJPR is sketched onto the two maps (in brown) below which I drew to show historic transportation corridors around San Juan Bautista.



There is still some existing evidence of the SJPR which can be seen along County Route G1.  I took the below photo in 2017 which shows the grade of the SJPR to the left of County Route G1 on San Juan Canyon Road.


As County Route G1 transitions onto Mission Vineyard Road a set of embedded rails can be seen in the roadway.


In early 2020 I returned to County Route G1 on Mission Vineyard Road to get better photos of the embedded rails.



Comments

Popular posts from this blog

The Smithtown Bull in Smithtown, New York

  Before I moved to Upstate New York as a young man, I grew up in the Long Island town of Smithtown during the 1980s and 1990s. The recognizable symbol of Smithtown is a bronze statue of a bull named Whisper, located at the junction of NY Route 25 and NY Route 25A near the bridge over the Nissequogue River. Why a bull, you may ask. The bull is a symbol of a legend related to the town's founding in 1665 by Richard "Bull" Smythe, with a modernized name of Richard Smith. It also so happens that there is a story behind the legend, one that involves ancient land right transfers and some modern day roads as well. So the story goes that Smythe made an agreement with a local Indian tribe where Smythe could keep whatever land he circled around in a day's time riding atop his trusty bull. Choosing the longest day of the year for his ride, he set out with his bull Whisper and went about riding around the borders of the Town of Smithtown. As legend has it, Smythe t

The Midway Palm and Pine of US Route 99

Along modern day California State Route 99 south of Avenue 11 just outside the City limits of Madera one can find the Midway Palm and Pine in the center median of the freeway.  The Midway Palm and Pine denotes the halfway point between the Mexican Border and Oregon State Line on what was US Route 99.  The Midway Palm is intended to represent Southern California whereas the Midway Pine is intended to represent Northern California.  Pictured above the Midway Palm and Pine can be seen from the northbound lanes of the California State Route 99 Freeway.   The history of the Midway Palm and Pine The true timeframe for when the Midway Palm and Pine (originally a Deadora Cedar Tree) were planted is unknown.  In fact the origin of the Midway Palm and Pine was referenced in California's Gold Episode #608 during which Huell Howser examined numerous points claimed to be the Center of California.  During Episode #608 Huell Howser interviews Caltrans employee Bob Thompson who emphasizes there wa

Erie Canal: Little Falls and Moss Island

  Little Falls, New York is a small city in the Mohawk Valley that has been shaped by the forces of water throughout its history. Nowhere in Little Falls is that more evident than at Moss Island. Representing the Industrial Age, this is home of Lock 17 the tallest lock along the Erie Canal, but there is also evidence of the Ice Age in the form of 40 foot deep glacial potholes from when there was an ancient waterfall that was even larger than Niagara Falls at this spot, once draining Glacial Lake Iroquois when other outlets (such as the St. Lawrence River) were blocked by retreating glaciers. While Little Falls does not have the amount of industry around the river and canal than it once had, checking out what Moss Island has to offer is a great way to see what the city has to offer. Visiting Moss Island allows you to experience the engineering marvel that is the Erie Canal plus the wonders of nature by taking a hike around the island and seeing the glacial potholes. A