History Pages: 57 - Union Depot, 1893

From Santa Cruz County history wiki
Jump to: navigation, search

For a table of contents, see History pages.

Union Depot.jpg

The Santa Cruz Union Depot was built in 1893 by Southern Pacific Railroad (SP). Its purpose was to consolidate SP's Santa Cruz operations in one place, after completing acquisition of both the Santa Cruz Railroad (SCR) and the South Pacific Coast Railroad (SPC). At first, the existence of both the former SCR tracks that had been converted to today's standard gauge and the not-yet-converted narrow gauge SPC tracks meant that the two lines couldn't connect. They arrived side-by-side at the Depot, where transfers of freight and passengers could be made. Also, the narrow gauge line continued past the Depot to nearby lumber yards/mills, and to the 1875 Railroad wharf, facilitating shipping of lumber from the San Lorenzo valley, and locally-manufactured wood products.

Maritime shipping gradually lost out to the railroads, and the railroad wharf was dismantled in 1922. By that time, SP had completed its standard-gauge conversions, and the tracks arriving from north and south were connected. Highways and motor vehicles, in turn, took local passenger and freight business from the trains, and also doomed local streetcar service. Passenger service ended at Union Depot in 1940, and as freight service dwindled, the rail lines were sold off. The Depot building, after some years as a restaurant, burned in 1998. Today's Depot Park moved and repurposed the former freight depot building (to the left of the passenger depot building in the 1910 photo), and the tracks are used by Roaring Camp for its "Beach Train". Santa Cruz County acquired the Davenport-Watsonville line as the route for the Coastal Rail Trail.


Next: History Pages: 58 - The 1890s Santa Cruz beachfront