Category Archives: Railroads

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.


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

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.

Tracks remain on Park Blvd

Walking today, I saw that the former San Diego Electric Railway tracks in the median of Park Blvd seem to be staying put. Construction is underway for a “busway” which is tearing out most of the old track and poles. However, at Howard Ave, the tracks are being left in place and reburied beneath the new median. Why this is the case here and not anywhere else is something of a mystery. Hopefully it marks a trend to keep some of the old infrastructure in place instead of destroying it.

Section of rail removed at Howard Ave.
Section of rail removed at Howard Ave.
South of Howard Ave to near Polk Ave, the old rails remain.
South of Howard Ave to near Polk Ave, the old rails remain.

US 99 in Lake Shasta – October 2008

In 2008, Lake Shasta was dropping to near historic lows. I took a trip up there to hike many of the exposed alignments. I also got out in the water in my wetsuit when I needed to. The whole trip was a lot of fun. Here are the photos from that trip.

Salt Creek Inlet and Lakehead Area:

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Pit River Area:

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Where US 99 goes into the lake on the south bank near the Pit River Bridge.
Where US 99 goes into the lake on the south bank near the Pit River Bridge.