Sargent is a ghost town and siding of the Southern Pacific Railroad located in southern Santa Clara County. The original alignment of US Route 101 was aligned through Sargent via what is now known as Old Monterey Road. Sargent was bypassed gradually due to shifts of the alignment of US Route 101 which occurred during 1941 and 1950. Pictured as the blog cover is a view on Old Monterey Road which is now no longer accessible to the general public. Below is a scan of the 1935 Division of Highways Map of Santa Clara County which depicts the original alignment US Route 101 through Sargent.
Part 1; the history of US Route 101 in Sargent
Sargent lies on land which was once part of Rancho Juristac. During 1856 James P. Sargent purchased Rancho Juristac and plotted what was known as Sargent Ranch. By 1869 the Southern Pacific Railroad coast line reached the relocated town site of Gilroy. The Southern Pacific Railroad coast line would be constructed through Chittenden Pass by 1871 which passed by Sargent Ranch. A Southern Pacific Railroad siding at Sargent Ranch would be plotted.
Sargent and Monterey Road were ultimately incorporated as part of the American El Camino Real which began being signed as an Auto Trail starting in 1906. The era of State Highway Maintenance through Sargent would ultimately begin with the 1909 First State Highway Bond Act which was approved by voters in 1910. One of the highways approved through the 1909 First State Highway Bond Act was a 481.8-mile highway originating at the City Limits of San Francisco which terminated in San Diego. This highway would ultimately come to be known in time as Legislative Route Number 2 ("LRN 2"). During 1913 the Pacific Highway was plotted as a major Auto Trail which had Sargent along it's planned route.
The May 1913 California Highway Bulletin describes the selected corridor of LRN 2 passing through Sargent by way of Gilroy and Bloomfield Farm towards San Juan Bautista.
The May 1913 California Highway Bulletin noted LRN 2 was expected to be fully paved between San Francisco and Sargent by the end of 1913.
The July 1914 California Highway Bulletin
referenced the contract to pave LRN 2 in oiled concrete between Gilroy and Sargent as being awarded during June. The oiled concrete surface through Sargent is cited to be planned with a 15-foot width.
During November 1926 the US Route System was created by the American Association of State Highway Officials. US Route 101 from Gilroy south to the San Benito County Line at the Pajaro River was aligned on Monterey Road through Sargent. US Route 101/LRN 2 can be seen connecting Gilroy and San Jaun Bautista by way of Sargent on the 1927 Rand McNally Highway Map of California
The July/August 1928 California Highways & Public Works
announced the Sargent grade separation project was up for bid. The same volume describes the at-grade crossing of the Southern Pacific Railroad along US Route 101/LRN 2 near Sargent as one of the most dangerous in the state.
The March/April 1929 California Highways & Public Works
describes the Sargent grade separation as having been delayed by litigation after the property owned filed an injunction. The contractor building the Sargent grade separation was expected to begin construction immediately due to a settlement being reached.
The January 1942 California Highways & Public Works
featured improvements along US Route 101/LRN 2 in the Gilroy area. The original Pajaro River Bridge near Sargent is shown in contrast to it's replacement which had been completed during 1941. US Route 101/LRN 2 is cited to bypass the site of Sargent via the new alignment.
The September/October 1948 California Highways & Public Works
announced US Route 101/LRN 2 was to be widened south of Gilroy to the Sargent Overhead during the 1949-50 Fiscal Year. This project included a second Sargent Overhead (completed during 1950) and widening of US Route 101/LRN 2 north to Gilroy to divided highway standards. This project ultimately would bypass Monterey Road from the Sargent Overheads to the vicinity of California State Route 25 with the older highway becoming a frontage of US Route 101/LRN 2.
The May/June 1964 California Highways & Public Works
references the original Sargent Overhead carrying southbound US Route 101 was being surveyed for a replacement structure. The replacement of the original Sargent Overhead is cited to be part of the first unit of a freeway expansion of US Route 101 in southern Santa Clara County.
Part 2; exploring former segments of US Route 101 in the vicinity of Sargent
Approximately one mile south of California State Route 25, the modern expressway alignment of US Route 101 intersects it's original alignment at Old Monterey Road.
Only 0.7 miles of Old Monterey Road is accessible to the public. A gate signed as "Sargent Gate 1" obstructs access to much of the rest of Old Monterey Road. Traces of Portland Cement beyond Sargent Gate 1 can be seen along the blocked portion of Old Monterey Road.
Upon crossing the modern southbound Sargent Overhead another segment of Old Monterey Road and the Sargent town site can be accessed to the west of the modern highway.
The view north on Old Monterey Highway facing the modern southbound Sargent Overhead.
The view south on the overgrown Old Monterey Road towards Pajaro River and the ruins of the Sargent siding site.