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Spreckels Avenue

Spreckels Avenue is an approximately 1.5-mile roadway located south of Salinas in Monterey County.  Spreckels Avenue is named after the community of Spreckels which is one of the best-preserved company towns in California.  Spreckels was founded in in 1898 by the Spreckels Sugar Company who operated a mill in the community from 1899-1982.  Spreckels Avenue begins at the grade of the former Spreckels Branch Railroad and terminates to the west at California State Route 68.  

Part 1; the history of Spreckels Avenue

Spreckels and the Spreckels Sugar Company were named after Claus Spreckels.  The Spreckels Sugar Company was founded in August 1896 after Claus Spreckels and began construction of a mill south of the city of Salinas.  Much of Salinas Valley during the 1890s had been undeveloped for agricultural purposes.  

The community bearing Claus Spreckels' name was constructed near the new mill and was connected to the Southern Pacific Railroad via the so-called Spreckels Branch Railroad.  Both the community of Spreckels and the Spreckels Branch Railroad would be complete by 1898.  The Spreckels Branch Railroad split from the Southern Pacific Railroad via what is known as Spreckels Junction.  The Spreckels Sugar Company mill would open to operations during 1899.  

Spreckels was connected to the Salinas-Monterey Highway via what came to be known as Spreckels Avenue.  The 1910 United States Geological Survey Map of Salinas displays Spreckels Avenue ending at the Old Hilltown near the 1889 Salinas River Bridge.  Old Hilltown was once the site of a ferry operation at the Salinas River along the highway between Salinas and Monterey.   The site of Old Hilltown was located along what is now Spreckels Lane.  

Private home sales began in Spreckels during 1925 but much of the community would remain in the hands of the Spreckels Sugar Company.  The Salinas-Monterey Highway was added to the State Highway System as part of Legislative Route Number 117 during 1933.  Spreckels Avenue can be seen connecting Spreckels to Legislative Route Number 117 on the 1935 Division of Highways Map of Monterey County.  Legislative Route Number 117 would begin to be signed as California State Route 68 in 1961.  

The Spreckels Sugar Company mill in Spreckels shuttered during 1982.  Following the shuttering of the mill the Spreckels Branch Railroad was withdrawn to the city limits of Salinas.  The remaining homes in the community of Spreckels were sold to the public.  

Part 2; a drive on Spreckels Avenue

As noted in the introduction Spreckels Avenue begins at the former grade of the Spreckels Branch Railroad.  Spreckels Avenue acts as a continuation of the Harris Road.  The transition of Harris Road to Spreckels Avenue is easy to spot due to the non-Manual of Traffic Control Devices advisory speed signage.  

Spreckels Avenue westbound passes through the downtown area of the community.  The Spreckels Volunteer Fire Department building boasts being active since 1899. 

Westbound Spreckels Avenue departs the community of Spreckels through a tunnel of trees.  As the tree tunnel ends the roadway intersects with Spreckels Lane which as noted in Part 1 once connected to Old Hilltown.  

Westbound Spreckels Avenue terminates at California State Route 68.  


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