San Bernardino, California

The Redlands Loop

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A picture of the Redlands passenger depot. Picture submitted by John Acosta.

This loop was originally constructed in the late 1800s, and served the orange growers and other farmers in the area, along with a few industries. While rail traffic was steady through the 1950s, the orange groves were replaced with residences over time, and the need for trains decreased. The segment between Highland Junction and Del Rosa was abandoned in the 1950s, with a further cut back to Patton in the 1970s. After a long pile trestle over the Santa Ana River (between Mentone and Patton) was damaged by floodwaters, the line was cut from Patton back to Mentone. Until the 1980s, Mentone had a separate industrial spur northeast of town, but the industries later closed and only small sections of track remain.

Only the Redlands to San Bernardino via Nevada segment is still active in early 2004. Redlands station still stands but is not used by BNSF. As of January 2004 the track ends near Wabash Avenue on the Redlands city limit, but there are no customers on the last two miles of track. The right-of-way through Del Rosa is used for CA Route 30, and other parts of it are still open in West Highland and Patton, as the neighborhoods were built while track was still in place. In East Highland the ROW has been obliterated by recent housing developments.

Heading clockwise, the single track line left the Santa Fe main at Highland Jct. in San Bernardino. It then passed through Arrowhead (PE crossing), Del Rosa, West Highland, Patton, Highland, East Highland, Aplin, Mentone, Craf[ton], Redlands, and Nevada, and rejoined the Santa Fe mainline just east of the San Bernardino depot.

Historic ICC Abandonment Filings

ATCHISON, TOPEKA & SANTA FE RAILWAY
Docket Number: 19173 Date: 12/12/1955 Section: 1(18)
App. of Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railroad Company for permission to abandon and remove a portion of its line of railroad known as the Redland Loop, in San Bernardino County, California, 3.9 miles, between its connection with the applicant's main line at Highland Junction and the Station of Del Rosa.
Length: 3.9 miles Citation: 295 ICC 814  
ATCHISON, TOPEKA & SANTA FE RAILWAY
Docket Number: 24317 Date: 9/12/1966 Section: 1(18)
App. and ret. to quest. for auth. to aband. a portion of its Redlands Dist, branch line of rr. known as the Redlands District, in San Bernardino County, Calif., approx. 1.61 mi. from the station at Patton to the end of the track at the Station of Del Rosa.
Length: 1.61 miles Citation:  

I enjoyed your post. I live in East Highland and vivadly recall the complete loop. In the early 70's my older brothers used to frequent the Gold Buckle Packing House (now stands the new Stater Bros store at Greenspot and Church St.)There were several derailled passenger train cars there for years. I still have several original Gold Buckle Orange Crate labels from the Burned Down GB Packing house. I would dearly love to see a post with any historic photos of this area!!

Norm Lavoie
Highland, CA
2/11/2009

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like your pictures,like doing these things to,i took pictures of railtown,ca from my trip this last summer.do you have maps from the old trolly lines?also the bridge off of mt view,what about it? thanks barb

barb
san bernardino, CA
11/8/2009

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I was born and raised in Highland. We lived on Palm ave. for years and years. My grandfather had a citrus ranch called Cliff side ranch near the present day East Highlands Ranch developement in 1881. My dad grew oranges all his life in Highland and East Highlands.Anyway I remember the Highland depot very well and played around it quite abit, waiting for the train to come by and blow its whistle. I also remember the pacific-electric rail car come to Highland on Pacfic ave.

thanks for the memories

doug frank
Powderhorn, CO
12/3/2009

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Does anyone know of a Menton Inn or Menton Spa that this rail line served?

Paris Nattboy
Mentone, CA
5/29/2011

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I will try to email you a corrected version of your map, which is correct up to where the 259 segment curves southward from I210 to intersect with I215. This segment was originally opened in 1967 as State Route 30 and only went as far as the E St. exit. The Redlands loop ROW was used for this segment. The Loop diverged from the ATSF main right where 259 does currently, and occupied the exact route of 259 to where it intersects I210. I have early childhood memories of the nightly local passing at the end of the cul-de-sac where I lived. I also remember the last passenger operation, a railfan special, around the summer of 1956. This may have been the very last through train on the intact loop.

Gary Hunter
San Bernardino (born there), CA
6/9/2011

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Great photos John and Mike!

Kevin M. Smith
Cicero, NY
6/28/2011

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For those interested, check out this link for history of Highland and the Kite Shaped Track. http://highlandhistory.org/The%20Kite%20Shaped%20Track.php. If you have a chance, pick-up the pictoral book Bill Calvert put together, great photos of old Highland. Also, there is info on a booklet that Mark Landis put together on the Kite Shape Track. He did excellent research on the eastern loop of the kite track. Mark also held a walking tour of the Eastern portion of the loop several years ago that was well done. Visited several sites of existing and former depots along the way. Norm, I remember the abandonned passenger cars you speak of. The kids from Highland referred to them as "The Trains" and were known as a party spot and because it was considered out in the boonies you generally didnt get hassled by the police too much. Doug, the Pacific Electric cars stopped right across the street from the Highland Depot at Pacific and Palm. The rails are still there, buried under the asphalt street. Thanks for posting everybody!

Allan
Highland, CA
3/10/2012

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I live on Opal Ave. just across the street from the old right of way. My next door neighbor's house was delivered from Sears and Roebuck on that track.

In the 1970s grain cars were sometimes parked on the track to be picked up later. Some pranksters released the brakes on a couple of cars and they began to coast downhill towards Highland. By the time they reached Church St. they had picked up so much speed they derailed. There were parts of the undercarriage hurled far from the wreckage that lay buried as much as five or six feet in the earth. Tons of millet spewed from the wrecked cars and many orange trees were destroyed. Due to the low population density, and good luck, no one was hurt.

Judy Tanner
Mentone, CA
6/18/2012

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I moved to Redlands in the late 90's and came across the valley to East Highland last year. I grew up in Claremont and used to play in the groves and canyons north of town. There are so many parallels with this area and I am curious about the Loop and the history surrounding it. Can anyone tell me about the old foundations I came across in the Santa Ana River Wash south of Greenspot Rd (north of the Wash proper)? There are the remains of the railroad bridges, but also foundations of what appeared to be a residence or perhaps a station? It was pretty formal and had pines and cedars planted on the road leading to it (still there) and appears to have been at a crossroads of several routes in the wash. There are still formal brick posts or risers (?) that appear to have had heavy chains or cables running between them to delineate a formal yard or division with the street as you approached from the northwest. Great site, and thanks for any information.

Curt Toovey
Highland, CA
7/1/2012

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I've got quite a few photos from around 2000 showing the then-condition of the old RR crossings of both the ATSF and UP lines going through Redlands: Ive emailed the link of the webmaster in hopes that I can share with the site here all the images I took.

Stego
Crestline
8/11/2012

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Curt, Those cemet pads are the remains of old housing for orange pickers I believe.

Steve Orosco
Redlands, CA
9/9/2012

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since i was on this last i have done a painting of san berarndino,rr and the history i even show it off at the 3 nd depot,doing rr days this last apirl 20'12

barb sleigh
san bernardino, CA
9/20/2012

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Does anyone know if BNSF still owns the remnants of the branch/loop? Thanks for any info!

leo giron
oxnard, CA
12/3/2012

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My dad wrote his Master's Thesis on the defunct railways of the Inland Empire about 1960. There should be a copy at the University of Redlands Library. His name is Robert Thomas Howell. I don't remember the exact title of the thesis.

Gary Howell
Ssn Jose, CA
12/11/2012

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i still go out a visit places around the valley, the PE railroad brigde is gone now over by mt view and san bernardino ave over the santa ana river i am glad i have pic from 2010 &11 the bridge was date 1916 , at this time i am maping all the rail lines that was or is in the valley'. also they are planing to re open the bottom or what is left of the loop, from san berndino to redlamds.

barb sleigh
sam bernardino, CA
2/17/2013

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in 1965, the first Y-TOUR USA, the student historical tour around the USA, sponsored by the Redlands YMCA, organized by Jane Hilsen (owner of Hilsen Holiday Tours in Redlands), Directed by Doug Hairgrove and Warren Wood, left Redlands on one of the last passenger trains to secure passengers from the Redlands Depot. I was on that tour and later became a Jr. Counselor on future summer tours.

Perhaps someone could contact Doug and Warren (woody) out in Palm Springs, Ca. and they could share some pictures of the group of 80 students boarding the train? The students traveled from Redlands to the Grand Canyon, when they met up with the two greyhound busses that would carry them the rest of the historical tour around the USA for 6 weeks. Wonderful experience.

Jim Covington
born and raised in Redlands, CA
10/27/2013

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I have a website that covers both Redlands (http://coastdaylight.com/ljames1/scph_sb_redlands.html) and East Highlands (http://coastdaylight.com/ph/scph_sb_easthighlands.html). I will eventually add Highland.

Jim Lancaster
Tustin, CA
6/20/2014

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Jim, I enjoyed your site and photo's very much. Do you have any maps for the area in East Highland where the Gold Buckle and East Highland Citrus Association were located??I'm trying to locate the exact spot of the East Highlands Sante Fe Depot. I have info that says it was located west of Church Street, but every photo I've seen puts it east of Church, right near the East Highlands Citrus Assoc. packing house. Thanks.

Allan
Highland
11/1/2014

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Hi!

I was once trying to create a websie exactly like yours, with all the pictures I had taken along the loop back around 2001. Alas, I never got it put up: Might you be interested in having my collection and what I had collected so far?

Ray Collazo
Crestline, CA
4/1/2015

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Earlier this year, the San Bernardino [County] Association of Governments received the go-ahead to upgrade the former ATSF line between San Bernardino and Redlands. It would bring back passenger rail service to Downtown Redlands and the University of Redlands (the end point of the track). Reconstruction of the line would be in 2016-2018, with service resuming in 2018 at the earliest.

Mike Palmer
Torrance, CA
6/21/2015

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I lived in Redlands for four years, 1968-1972, and our neighborhood was located immediately south of the joint Southern Pacific / AT&SF right-of-way between N. Lincoln and N. Dearborn Streets, the point where the two lines crossed over the Zanja on parallel timber bridges with concrete abutments. The Espee branch was pulled out some time prior to my revisiting the area in 1997, and a cutover connection was installed for a short warehouse spur at the end of the SP line at Wabash and Colton Avenues. Heavy winter rains in about 1970 washed out a section of the Southern Pacific branch for about a hundred yards just west of Wabash Avenue, which at that time had orange groves on both sides of the alignment. The Santa Fe ran a local out to Mentone from San Bernardino about six evenings a week (I don't think it ran on Sunday) which came east along through our neighborhood about 7 or 8 p.m., returning an hour or so later. The kids in the neighborhood would gather to watch it go through as it invariably came in that post-dinner hour twilight play time. It was considered a great thrill / bravery to sit under the little trestle next to the trickle of the "Zankey" (as Redlanders pronounce it) and watch the train go overhead about two feet beneath the moving freight. The Southern Pacific only rarely ran out their line to Wabash from the San Timoteo Canyon. I can only recall seeing moves on that line one or two times in my years in Redlands. I have no notes or photos of those evening moves so I cannot say what the motive power was, but I suspect it was GP38s and such.

I also believe that the trestle north of Mentone did not last as long as you indicate, and was destroyed in the major flooding of the Santa Ana River that occurred in March 1938, which did much damage throughout Southern California. It certainly had ceased to exist by 1968, and I could find little or no evidence of pilings from it in "the Wash" north of the end-of-track at Mentone by 1970 or '71.

Mark Sublette
Clemson, SC
8/15/2015

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A few observations to fill out some details concerning the latter days of the ATSF/BNSF Redlands Loop. I grew up close by Patton station, and recall into the early 1970s that lumber cars were spotted at the Patton rail end. Their contents were off-loaded and trucked to hardware stores and lumber yards nearby. From 1970 and into 1971 I was a summer/seasonal employee at East Highlands Citrus Association, and loaded boxed citrus into diesel-refrigerated boxcars for shipment. ATSF had no apparent trouble moving these cars and their locomotives over the Santa Ana River during that time period. It is good to hear that plans are in the works to refit what is left of the Loop as a commuter rail resource. It turns out that abandoning and over-building the ROW was a short-sighted course of conduct--ib its original alignment, it would be a near-perfect comprehensive commuter rail system for the East Valley.

Allen Paine
Redlands, CA
6/21/2016

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