Fillmore to Saugus


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This is the Piru "station" as it appears in January 2004. The building is a new structure with concrete platforms, although the station itself is not modeled after the original station at Piru. The track ends around the bend in the distance. Photo by Mike Palmer, January 2004.

This route was built in 1887 as part of Southern Pacific's original mainline from San Francisco to Los Angeles. In the early 1900s it was bypassed by a parallel route further south, and this line became a secondary route. It ran parallel to the Santa Clara River for its entire distance, serving local orange groves and farms. It remained in service by SP until 1987, when the Santa Paula to Saugus segment was abandoned.

A local tourist railroad, Fillmore & Western, purchased the segment from Santa Paula east to Fillmore. The F&W operates passenger trains with historic equipment all year long. The F&W also has a large collection of rail equipment in Fillmore in various stages of repair. The Fillmore & Western also includes the Fillmore to Piru segment on its brochure maps, but there are no trains currently running on that part. The rails are intact, though solidly rusted, and the crossing signals have been upgraded where it crosses CA Route 126. East of Piru, the rails are completely removed. Much of the grade between Piru and Newhall Ranch is easily found as it runs parallel to CA Route 126, but the route is not a public trail. East of Newhall Ranch the route can be followed by local industries, under I-5 and an adjacent road (called the Old Road), to a bridge over the Santa Clara River. This bridge (see below) is used for water pipes but is blocked from public use. The right-of-way for the last mile to Saugus has been obliterated by the widening of parallel Magic Mountain Blvd. The line ended with a wye to the SP mainline between Los Angeles and Mojave, but most traces of the wye have been removed.

The Fillmore & Western RR now runs trains to Piru from time to time; check their website for updates, or join them on Facebook.

John Acosta
Big Bear Lake, CA


Service between Saugus and Piru was discontinued following major flood damage along several parts of the line, including the washout of a portion of the bridge over the river just west of Saugus.

After SP discontinued service on the eastern end, the trackage in the Castaic Jct. area was used by Shortline Enterprizes for movie and TV show railroad scenes ("Throw Mama From The Train" for example).

Rich Sievers
Alameda, CA


I believe that the line is actually owned by the VCTC - Ventura County Transportation Commission and the F&W has an operating lease and most of the maintenance contract. The F&W had quite a good website - tourist and movie industry focused - for those interested.

Peter Ely
Moorpark, Ca, CA


The Santa Clara River trestle was washed out during the flood of 1976. At that time, the eastern end of the line from the crossing of 126 east of Piru all the way to Castiac was plugged with old 40' PS2 boxcars which were stored there awaiting an upturn in traffic that would never come. Almost all of them were eventually dumped into Great Salt Lake in an attempt to shore up the threatened causeway when the lake rose to record highs. Prior to being used as a dead storage track, the Santa Paula was used as a bypass of the Montalvo Cutoff, and freights and the very occasional Starlight would go waddling along on the shaky 90 lb. rail all through the '70s. The wig-wag at the crossing of 126 east of Fillmore were unique, as they had a truss-type cantilever not seen on any other SP location. Even the F&W section shows the weak 90 lb. rail in most places, although some of it has been upsized to used 120 lb.

Lancaster, CA


The route is easy to trace

Cupertino, CA


The entire line, known as the santa paula branch, was sold to the ventura county transportation commision in 1996 by sp. The line is leased to the Fillmore&western. The abandoned portion is between piru and santa clarita. This portion will be reinstated and the line will once again be a thru corridor, as vctc intends to run metrolink trains over the entire lenght of the line,from montalvo to santa clarita, the connection to the up main line.

oxnard, CA


A portion of the original right-of-way in Valencia (Santa Clarita) has been converted recently to a biking/running trail, including the old trestle bridge. The paved trail ends at the I-5 overpass, but a gravel trail continues along the right-of-way between The Old Road the Valencia water treatment facility.

The old Saugus Train Station, built in 1887 near the intersection of Railroad Ave and Drayton St, was relocated in 1980 to William S. Hart Park in Newhall, where it serves as a museum, part of what is called "Heritage Junction." The original station featured an eatery for weary travellers in its north end. In 1905, demand for more room for freight forced the eatery, by then called the Saugus Cafe, to move across the street. The Saugus Cafe still stands there today, open for business. More history on that Saugus Station can be found here:

Kevin Story
Valencia, CA


This line received major damage in March 1928, when LADWP's St. Francis dam failed, sending a massive flood down the Santa Clara River. An Edison construction camp at Kemp siding was devastated and many workers lost their lives. One of our family stories concerns my father's Uncle Steve, who was working on the SCE project as a "muleskinner" or teamster. On March 12, he decided to visit relatives in Altadena. Not sure whether he wanted to sleep in a real bed, was tired of camp food, or just wanted to visit the home folks, but he was miles away when disaster hit.

Bob Davis
San Gabriel, CA


With apologies to Leo Gyron. His post seemed a bit too good to be true. However, in a response to my inquiry, a rep from the VCTC said:

"The VCTC does indeed own the Santa Paula Branch Line from Montalvo to the Ventura/Los Angeles County Line. The track is in place from the Coast mainline in Montalvo to the eastern edge of the community of Piru. East of Piru the track was removed and there is a segment of right of way that was used by Caltrans to widen Highway 126 but there is an agreement in place requiring Caltrans to provide VCTC with alternative right-of-way. There have been a number of long range studies looking at reconnecting the Branch Line in Santa Clarita but there are no agreements in place at the moment to do so. VCTC purchased the Branch Line with the intention of preserving the right-of-way for future rail use and for use as a recreational trail."

Bakersfield, CA


Hopefully this line will be reconnected to the Santa Clarita line in the future. There are some at the VCTC who are opposed. This line has great potential though as trains can be run to and from Los Angeles and also to the Antelope Valley and maybe even Las Vegas.

Fred Martinez
San Fernando, CA


I am saddened to see the demise of the Santa Paula Branch. I have been over every inch of the branch as a locomotive engineer. Have the distinct honor of being the last train over the wye bridge that used to span the Santa Clara River at Saugus (1978). Ran the locomotive in the filming of Throw Momma from the Train for a couple of days.. Switched and spotted many cars on the branch.. Great memories !!

San Joaquin Engineer
Rancho Palos Verdes, CA, CA


Actually, for the F&W, it has gotten considerably worse.

Bakersfield, CA


The station at Piru has been used several times as backdrops for both JAG and NCIS TV shows.

Walter Imhof
Manorville, NY


Yeah for the F&W there might be kicked out I say might because they filled appeals on Wednesday and Thursday so who knows

Theachapi, CA


Fight on Fillmore & Western Railway!!!! This is such a tragedy.

Fred Martinez
San Fernando, CA


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