Niland to Araz Junction

The Inter-California Line

Picture Point of Interest

GOOGLE MAPS no longer available: With apologies, I am unable to continue showing Google Maps. Google has forced my hand by increasing their map usage fee from nothing/free to OVER $300 A MONTH for the Abandoned Rails website! This is an expense that I simply cannot afford. Rest assured I am looking at available open source alternatives, so maps should be back online soon!

Greg Harrison

Showing of

Old roadbed of Southern Pacific Inter-California line at Union Pacific mainline (formerly Southern Pacific Sunset Route) at Araz Junction, CA, just west of Yuma, AZ. The cantilever signal bridge that diverted traffic from the number 2 track onto the Inter-Cal line can be seen in the background. The tracks were removed in the 1950s. Photo by Paul McGuffin, April 2009.

The Southern Pacific "Inter-Cal" line branched from the SP's Sunset Route at Niland, CA, ran southwards and entered Old Mexico at Calexico, CA/Mexicali, MX. It ran for some 50 miles east and re-entered the U.S./California at Algondones, MX, connecting with the SP Sunset Route at Araz Junction, about 5 miles west of Yuma, AZ. It was this railroad that the SP used to block the flood of water into the Imperial Valley that formed the Salton Sea (253' below sea level) in 1911.

A majority of the line was removed in the 1950s, especially south of the border in Mexico. The line from Niland to the border is still in use by Union Pacific.

It is said that train orders for the line were issued in both Spanish and English.

Thanks to Paul McGuffin for contributing information about this route.

Historic ICC Abandonment Filings

Docket Number: 20408 Date: 11/17/1958 Section: 1(18)
App. for auth. to abandon its line between M. P. 760.693 at the Internat'l, Boundary Line between the Rep. of Mex. and the U.S.A., at or near Cantu, and M. P. 763.388 at or near Araz Junction, a distance of 2.695 mi., together with all sidings, spur tracks and appurtenances, located in Imperial County, Calif.
Length: 2.695 miles Citation: 307 ICC 805  

A special "Thanks" to Paul McGuffin for providing these photos and the information for them. I had traveled over parts of these areas for the last 30 years, but was not sure where these were located exactly, until now.

Keith Johns
San Diego, CA


I can remember in the summer of 1959 we took our first vacation to California (from Tucson). I distinctly remember Old U.S. 80 passing through a dip under a strange looking viaduct under this line just west of Winterhaven, CA. There was a white State Highway sign that said SUBWAY on it. The next year we went that way again but the viaduct had been removed (but the tracks remained in place for a while). The dip with the subway sign remained in place on Old U.S. 80 until it got replaced by I-8 in the 1970s.

Fred M. Cain
Topeka, IN


Another local "Subway" refers to the SP RR location in Yuma, AZ for crew changes that occurred where the rail line went through a deep cut in the hill. With the deep narrow cut and the roadway overpass it resembled a 'subway' of sorts, a railroad nickname that is still in use today. This is still the case although it is at the location of 16th Street and Redondo Drive, just west of the I-8 interchange.

The location Mr. Cain refers to is still in place in Winterhaven, CA on the UP/ SP Sunset route on California state road 24 on the way to Bard, CA.

Lee Stoermer
Yuma, AZ


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