Perris to Elsinore Junction

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The railroad bed curves along and under the power lines. From here the railroad bed enters the canyon and runs toward the City of Canyon Lake. Photo by Andrew Bishop.

This abandoned line once formed the San Diego mainline of the California Southern Railway; it later became part of the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe transcontinental mainline.

The line was used up until 1927, when a number of washouts forced its abandonment in 1927. The land of the right-of-way was sold to the Temescal Water Company, which build Railroad Canyon Dam, completed in 1928, forming Railroad Canyon Reservoir, effectively submerging half of the length of the right-of-way.

Today, the right-of-way, split in two by the reservoir, can still be located. The northern portion can be followed from the Orange Empire Railway Museum, which was built along the old line, south to Railroad Canyon, right up to the water's edge. This portion of the right-of-way paralleled the San Jacinto River through an area called Railroad Canyon, is more visibly intact, but requires an off-road vehicle to access. The southern portion of the right-of-way can be seen from Railroad Canyon Dam to the line's connection with the Lake Elsinore Branch near present-day Mission Trail Road. Most of it parallels Railroad Canyon Road but is completely overgrown with trees or has been obliterated due to urban development.

Thanks to Andrew Bishop for contributing information about this route.

Historic ICC Abandonment Filings

ATCHISON, TOPEKA & SANTA FE RAILWAY
Docket Number: 56 Date: 1920 Section: 0
Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Railway applied for a certificate of public convenience and necessity authorizing the abandonment of a portion of its line of railroad extending from Perris to Elsinore Junction, in the County of Riverside, State of California, a distance of 10.29 miles.
Length: 10.29 miles Citation: 65 ICC 386  
ATCHISON, TOPEKA & SANTA FE RAILWAY
Docket Number: 6149 Date: 1927 Section: 1
Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Railway applied for a certificate of public convenience and necessity authorizing the abandonment of a portion of its line of railroad extending from Perris to Elsinore Junction, in the County of Riverside, State of California, a distance of 10.29 miles.
Length: 10.29 miles Citation: 124 ICC 489  

A short segment of this line was rebuilt in the 1970s, when the Orange Empire Trolley Museum (now Orange Empire Railway Museum) rebuilt the line from their museum site to the downtown Perris depot, a couple miles away. It connects with the BNSF branch that still runs through Perris.

The right of way is not visible south of Perris due to development. The memory of the AT&SF lives on - the major through road is Railroad Canyon Road, and there is the Railroad Canyon Reservoir that covers part of the former right of way.

Mike Palmer
Torrance, CA
2/13/2010

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