Category Archives: Railroads

Image of the Week – 8/15/15

Former North Burbank UP, now removed, along old US 99 in the San Fernando Valley. Built 1941.
Former North Burbank UP, now removed, along old US 99 in the San Fernando Valley. Built 1941.

Image of the Week – 3/15/15

Interstate 5 under construction at Magic Mountain Parkway in 1964.
Interstate 5 under construction at Magic Mountain Parkway and the Santa Clara River in 1964. Old US 99 is visible on the right side.

Victoria Bridge in Riverside, CA

Built in 1928, the Victoria Bridge crosses the Tequesquite Arroyo in style. This bridge was built to carry streetcars on Victoria Avenue across the arroyo as well as auto and horse carriage traffic. It is a rare example in Southern California of an arch bridge of this magnitude crossing a generally dry location. The deck and railing were restored in the early 2000’s to their original 1920’s appearance.

Victoria Avenue in the Riverside area itself is a rather beautiful roadway to travel. It was constructed in the early 1900’s as such a roadway and retains most of the original features today, south of this bridge. Quite a few miles of the roadway are comprised of a two-lane divided roadway surrounded by orange groves. These orange groves comprise some of the last remaining groves in Southern California. It is significant as the Riverside area was home to the original orange groves that were planted in the late 1800’s in Southern California.

Side view showing the multiple arch span.
Side view showing the multiple arch span.
Deck view with the restored railing and lighting.
Deck view with the restored railing and lighting.
New dedication plaque.
New dedication plaque.

Image Of The Week – 9/11/14

Swimming to a 1901 Southern Pacific Railroad bridge and tunnel in Lake Shasta near Lakehead. October 2008.
Swimming to a 1901 Southern Pacific Railroad bridge and tunnel in Lake Shasta near Lakehead. October 2008.

Pacific Electric – Soto / Huntington Bridge

The last large Pacific Electric railroad grade separation, located in the El Sereno area of Los Angeles, is scheduled for removal in the near future. Last week, I took the opportunity to take photos of this structure while I still could.

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Located at the flag on the map.

View from the eastern side. Steps lead to the passenger platform for northbound trains.
View from the eastern side. Steps lead to the passenger platform for northbound trains.

The structure is located along the former PE Northern District’s main line. The rail line here had four tracks. Outer tracks for local trains, inner tracks for express trains. Trains passed through here bound for downtown Los Angeles, Pasadena, Monrovia, and Alhambra. It was built in 1936 as an upgrade to alleviate traffic congestion along busy Mission St. Passenger platforms were constructed at both ends of the structure, both of which exist today.

Passenger platform on the northbound side.
Passenger platform on the northbound side.
Former catenary poles and rail used as a light pole and barrier.
Former catenary poles and rail used as a light pole and barrier.
Deck view showing the twin steel spans.
Deck view showing the twin steel spans.
Concrete approaches with a painted clearance sign.
Concrete approaches with a painted clearance sign.
1936 bridge plaque. Visible in the top left side of the steel girder.
1936 bridge plaque. Visible in the top left side of the steel girder.
Closeup of the steel spans crossing Mission / Huntington.
Closeup of the steel spans crossing Mission / Huntington.

After the tracks were removed in the 1960’s, the bridge was rehabilitated for highway use. The fill at both ends was partially removed and the bridge deck was paved. The former catenary poles remain as light posts.

Slowly, the remnants of the Pacific Electric in the Los Angeles Metropolitan Area are going away. While it is a loss of history, Los Angeles is working toward a future with more rail lines. It won’t ever be the “PE”, but it will go a long way toward a better future.

New pages from old

After a hiatus since 2008, I have reposted more pages from the old Santa Clarita Valley Resources Page. The Railroads page has been redesigned to accommodate the old pages and will be expanded with new pages on the Pacific Electric Railway and Los Angeles Railway. I am still working on adding back the Santa Clarita Valley History pages as well. Look for more updates in the next few weeks.

 New Railroads Page

Wigwags – Part 2

In Anaheim, there exists an unlikely sight. Here, in 2014, there is an operational wigwag near an orange grove in Orange County. It is not known how long either will last, though hopefully will be preserved to show what things used to be like here. These glimpses of the past are getting rarer indeed.

This site is located at the corner of Santa Ana St and Lemon St in central Anaheim, between Anaheim Blvd and Harbor Blvd.

Closeup of the wigwag.
Closeup of the wigwag.
Looking east on Santa Ana St toward Lemon St. Wigwag is to the right.
Looking east on Santa Ana St toward Lemon St. Wigwag is to the right.

Wigwags in Southern California – Part 1

A Wigwag is an older form of railroad grade crossing protection. It was also known as a Magnetic Flagman. Think of it as a mechanical version of a person waving a railroad lantern to help “protect” a train crossing a roadway. These are now extremely rare to see as they don’t have gates in addition to the flashing lights.

I’ve either found or learned of only a few in Southern California. In the Los Angeles area, there is only one left – on 49th St between Pacific Blvd and Santa Fe Ave in Vernon along the BNSF Railway.

Full assembly with crossbucks on a separate pole.
Full assembly with crossbucks on a separate pole.
Built by the Magnetic Signal Company of Los Angeles, California.
Built by the Magnetic Signal Company of Los Angeles, California.
Control box with milepost information.
Control box with milepost information.

Addtional Wig-Wag Locations:

Streetcar tracks in Bankers Hill

While riding home today from downtown San Diego, I passed some construction on 5th Ave between Olive St and Palm St. It seems that the tracks from the #1 San Diego Electric Railway line are still in place. I had thought most of these tracks were long since torn up. Instead, as seen on Park Blvd, the tracks are merely buried under a few inches of asphalt.

Southbound and one northbound track at Olive St
Southbound and one northbound track at Olive St
Southbound rails in place.
Southbound rails in place.
Side view showing three rails within the trench.
Side view showing three rails within the trench.

Los Angeles And Salt Lake Railroad – Santa Ana River Bridge

In the Jurupa area of Riverside, there is a really neat old railroad bridge. Built in 1904, it was a part of the former San Pedro, Los Angeles, and Salt Lake Railroad, a subsidiary of the Union Pacific Railroad. This bridge is fairly unique in Southern California in that it is a concrete arch design instead of the usual steel truss type. As it is also a single-track bridge, additional traffic may warrant an additional span.

View of the west side of the span.
View of the west side of the span.
Deck view showing the single-track and architectural features
Deck view showing the single-track and architectural features
Santa Ana River above the bridge. This section of the river is open and not channelized.
Santa Ana River above the bridge. This section of the river is open and not channelized.
Detail of the architectural features.
Detail of the architectural features.