Skip to main content

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.

Popular posts from this blog

Horace Wilkinson Bridge (Baton Rouge, LA)

Standing tall across from downtown Baton Rouge, the Horace Wilkinson Bridge carries Interstate 10 across the lower Mississippi River between West Baton Rouge and East Baton Rouge Parishes. Unusually, the bridge is actually named for three separate people; three generations of Horace Wilkinsons who served in the Louisiana State Legislature over a combined period of 54 years. Constructed in the 1960s and opened to traffic in 1968, this is one of the largest steel bridges on the lower Mississippi. It’s also the tallest bridge across the Mississippi, with its roadway reaching 175 ft at the center span. Baton Rouge is the northernmost city on the river where deep-water, ocean-going vessels can operate. As a result, this bridge is the northernmost bridge on the river of truly gigantic proportions. Altogether, the bridge is nearly 2 ½ miles long and its massive truss superstructure is 4,550 ft long with a center main truss span of 1,235 ft. The Horace Wilkinson Bridge is one of the largest

Sunshine Bridge (Donaldsonville, LA)

Located about halfway between Baton Rouge and New Orleans in southern Louisiana, the Sunshine Bridge spans the lower Mississippi River near the city of Donaldsonville as part of the longer Louisiana Highway 70 corridor, which connects Interstate 10 and Airline Highway (US 61) with US 90 in Morgan City. In the years following World War II, the only bridges across the lower Mississippi River in Louisiana were located in the area of the state’s two largest cities – Baton Rouge and New Orleans. Postwar agricultural and industrial development along the river in this region led to the planning of a series of infrastructure projects in southern Louisiana that were aimed at spurring this development and modernization of the Delta region. One of these projects was known as the Acadian Thruway and was developed in the 1950s as a toll road intended to connect greater New Orleans with Lafayette and points west while providing a high-speed bypass of the Baton Rouge metro area. The Thruway, which

Natchez-Vidalia Bridge (Natchez, MS)

  Located about halfway between Baton Rouge and Vicksburg near the city of Natchez, the Natchez-Vidalia Bridge crosses the lower Mississippi River between southwest Mississippi and northeastern Louisiana at the city of Vidalia. This river crossing is a dual span, which creates an interesting visual effect that is atypical on the Mississippi River in general. Construction on the original bridge took place in the late 1930s in conjunction with a much larger parallel effort by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to strengthen the area’s flood protection and levee system along the Mississippi River. One of the more ambitious aspects of this plan was to relocate the city of Vidalia to a location of higher ground about one mile downriver from the original settlement. The redirection of the river through the Natchez Gorge (which necessitated the relocation of the town) and the reconstruction of the river’s levee system in the area were undertaken in the aftermath of the Great Flood of 1927, wh