Manteca Junction to Manteca

The Manteca Branch

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

Here, the Tidewater Bikeway traces the right-of-way where the Manteca branch turned to run parallel to the former SP Valley main line. Photo by Mike Palmer, January 2009.

This was a branch of the Tidewater Southern Railway (a subsidiary of the Western Pacific) and was built in March of 1918. This 6-mile branch extended south from Manteca Junction on the Tidewater Southern to the city of Manteca itself. The area around Manteca is mainly agricultural; the line at one time served no less than 8 fruit-packing sheds in Manteca proper. While a freight-only branch, WP accounting files indicate that this branch was originally electrified; the overhead wires were removed in 1930.

When the WP was acquired by the Union Pacific in 1982, the Tidewater Southern was also merged into the UP.

The branch was likely abandoned in the early 1990s, when all former WP and SP lines were consolidated with the UP. A customer in South Manteca had its siding connected with the former SP main line when the TS line was abandoned. Today, a portion of the line in downtown Manteca is used as the Tidewater Bikeway.

Thanks to Mike Palmer for contributing information about this route.

The Manteca Branch was removed in 1991. Great site.

Tidewater Southern Railway
Manteca, CA


The major shipper on the Manteca Branch, indeed the main reason it was constructed, was the Spreckels Sugar plant located along Spreckels Avenue. The land for the plant was purchased in 1916 and it opened in 1917, just months before the branch itself. The branch was electrified for freight only and when removed the overhead wire and other components were used to electrify the new Sacramento Northern connection from Creed to Vacaville Jct., connecting the previously isolated Vacaville - Fairfield segment to the rest of the system. About 1992 Spreckels Sugar started talking about redeveloping the Manteca plant and it closed in 1996 as part of the buyout by Imperial Sugar. SP and TS had joint access to the plant and photos exist of trains of gondolas, including the iconic SP wood side beet gons, coming down the branch behind TS 70 tonners and RS1s carrying sugar beets. A small stub of the branch remains at Manteca Jct. right before it crossed Hwy 120.

Eugene Vicknair
San Jose, CA


Another major customer for the WP on the Manteca Branch was Manteca Bean, which had a large elevator just off Moffat Blvd. They used to receive covered hoppers (1 -2) typically. I do not know if this was a loading point, or receiving point. I do know that the siding came off the Manteca branch, crossed over Moffat, and swung along side the parking lot of a grocery store that my mother worked at. The siding ran along side of the edge of the parking lot, and Manteca Bean was opposite the tracks. I do remember riding my bike to cadge sodas / candy from my mom, and then walking over and looking at the 1 or 2 hopper cars which might be spotted there. This was back in the 70's -80's, and there was no fence or anything; you could go right up the the cars and touch them. If you look on Google Maps you can see the old empty lot where the elevator stood, and the store and parking are still there. (,Manteca,+CA&gl=us&ei=5v8TUtmDOsLx2QWVw4DADQ&ved=0CKMBELYD)

Shane Peterson
Tustin , CA


Found a great link from the Tidewater Southern Historical Society about Manteca Bean:

This describes it much better than my admittedly hazy recollection of it when I was growing up there. :-)

Shane Peterson
Tustin, CA


When I was 16 yrs. Old, 1976-77,my family lived in Manteca, CA for about 8 months. But I do remember Speckles very well. We would drive by it maybe 4 to 6 times a day. I remember the tall water tower. Proudly displaying it's name. I think there was even a little bit of a smell coming up from the factory. You either liked it or not. I wasn't bothered by it,quite frankly. I never realized until my research on Speckles sugar factory, it's importance. Branch #2. It sure had it's run. Too bad that it's not in existence anymore or in full operation. I think would if it was still in productionit would have definitely lowered the unemployment rate to nearly 2%.

I'm back in Manteca, as of 2009. Grown-up, 55 yrs.old now. I lived in Ripon, from 1995-2009. So I was in and out of Manteca, that's where I spent my well earned money. Ripon was such a smaller town, so much more than Manteca, but it was family oriented. Everyone knew eachother, pretty much. But I am retired now and there's no other place I'd rather be than Manteca.

Spreckles Avenue still inuse. But oh my, how it has changed.

it's a main place to go. But if I get a chance, I can still see good ole Spreckles.

thank you!

Ralph Vasquez
Manteca, CA


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Do you have any pictures or information about The Manteca Branch? Please . You will get credit for anything you contribute.