$50,000 Sunday Stroll on the Westside Railroad Tracks

On January 27th, People Power, an advocate for human-powered transportation in Santa Cruz County, hosted a walk along the rail corridor in Santa Cruz in response to recent threats by Union Pacific to fine “trespassers” up to $2,000. The walk in the rain, which brought out more than two dozen people, featured local historian Ross Gibson who included information on the past and possible future of rail transportation in Santa Cruz County. The Sunday stroll began at Swift Street on the Westside of Santa Cruz and ended at Bay Street.

The Santa Cruz County Regional Transportation Commission (SCCRTC) has been in negotiations with Union Pacific Railroad (UP) for over three years to acquire the line. The SCCRTC has agreed to pay $19 million to UP for the Santa Cruz Branch (rail) Line.

Once the local RTC takes ownership of the rail corridor the Santa Cruz County Friends of the Rail Trail hope to begin building segments of a rail trail, ultimately spanning the entire 31 miles from Davenport to Watsonville. Passenger trains and the coastal rail trail could run together along the coastal line to help students, commuters, and visitors to travel throughout the County.

The Santa Cruz County Friends of the Rail Trail is a not for profit organization dedicated to the development of bicycle and pedestrian paths within rail corridors throughout Santa Cruz County. FORT members and volunteers build and maintain rail trails, inform and involve the public, and recommend best trail practices to government agencies.

You can learn more by visiting the following websites:

Ross Gibson, the guide for the walk along the rail corridor, is a highly regarded local historian. You can read articles he has written on various aspects of Santa Cruz history by searching the archives of the Santa Cruz Library. Some articles that I have found to be very interesting are:

The Santa Cruz Wharf
by Ross Eric Gibson
The article originally appeared in the San Jose Mercury News, July 19, 1994.

This next article is talking about different tracks, but it’s still worth checking out if you are curious:

President Roosevelt’s 1903 Trip to Santa Cruz and the Big Trees Redwood Grove
By Ross Gibson
I couldn’t find the article online anymore, but here’s a photo of President Roosevelt in Big Tree Grove.

140 Years of Railroading in Santa Cruz County
Part 1 & Part 2
by Rick Hamman
This article was first published in the Aptos Times, in the March 1996 and April 1, 1996 issues.

Union Pacific Railroad
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Union_Pacific_Railroad

Union Pacific Vengeance Against Coastal Rail Trail

A post on Santa Cruz Indymedia on November 11th, 2005 stated, “A group of workers from the [Union Pacific] railroad came on 11/10/05 to the newly built trail next to the railroad tracks near Almar. They used a grader to tear up the volunteer-built trail as to render it difficult to ride a bike on.”

Crossposted at Indybay.org.

Author: Bradley Allen

Bradley Allen is a reporter and photographer in the Monterey Bay Area, and a collective member of the San Francisco Bay Area Independent Media Center (Indybay). Follow him on social media: @BradleySA.