Watts to Santa Ana

The Santa Ana Branch

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All lines in this view are former Pacific Electric, at Watts in November, 1983. The dismantled line curving to the left is the abandoned section that headed southeast through Lynwood and Paramount toward Santa Ana. (There are now houses built on the right of way). The center-right line heads south to Dolores Yard in Carson; and this line is now paralleled by the MTA light rail Blue Line, opened in 1990. The branch to the right (barely in the photo) heads to the Chevron refinery in El Segundo. Photo by Mike Palmer, November 1983.

This is a former Pacific Electric branch line, and had PE Red Car service to Santa Ana until 1950, when the service was cut back to Bellflower. Bellflower lost passenger service in 1958 (freight operations continued for several years after, however), but its station still stands, boarded up and unrefurbished.

The branch was abandoned in three sections: The Watts-Paramount section survived into the early 1970s, the middle section from Paramont to Stanton (which included Bellflower) was abandoned in 2003, and the southernmost section from Statnt to Santa Ana survived until 1978. After the Watts-Paramount segment was abandoned, the customers were served from the other direction from a junction with both the Southern Pacific's The Los Alamitos Branch and The Huntington Beach Branch, in Stanton. The rails were taken up from Watts working southeast in the early 1980s to a point just east of the SP diamond at Palomar. From Palomar to a point near Garfield Avenue in Paramount the tracks remained in place until some of the right-of-way land was cleared for the I-105 freeway. In Paramount, the line crossed the UP San Pedro branch to the harbor. In early 2003, the diamond was removed and a connection was built at this crossing to enable local trains on the UP line to serve the Paramount-area industries on the former PE line. As of July 2003 the tracks ended just west of Lakewood Boulevard at the eastern city limit of Paramount. The Paramount-to-Stanton segment was dismantled in July 2003. The Stanton-to-Santa Ana segment had been dismantled in 1978. While that older portion of the right of way is still visible in 2003, it is now used as parking lots for businesses, self storage facilities, etc. Generally, it cannot be walked or explored, and it has lost most of its railroad "look".

Historic ICC Abandonment Filings

SOUTHERN PACIFIC RAILROAD
Docket Number: 11498 Date: 1/5/1937 Section: 1
App. of Southem Pacific RR Co. and Southern Pacific Company for authority to abandon that portion of the so-called Santa Ana Branch owned by Southern Pacific RR Co. and operated by the Southern Pacific Co. as lessee, at or near West Anaheim and Miraflores, a distance of 2.162 miles, all in Orange County, Calif.
Length: 2.162 miles Citation: 221 ICC 101  
SOUTHERN PACIFIC RAILROAD
Docket Number: AB-12 Sub 27 Date: 4/30/1976 Section: 1a
Application filed for authority to abandon line of railroad extending from MP 507.811 north of North Stanton in a southeasterly direction to the end of the branch at MP 514.965 near West Santa Ana, a distance of 7.154 miles in Orange County, California.
Length: 7.154 miles Citation:  

The southern end of this route has almost been completely obliterated. The truss bridge over the Santa Ana River remains and still looks like the photo, as of 02-2009 - except for the addition of graffiti.

Randall Miller
Orange, CA
2/22/2009

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I crossed this line several times in March 2009 while driving Katella Avenue in Stanton between Disneyland and my hotel. I didn't know the lineage but it was clearly a former railroad right of way because it cut diagonally through the town and across streets. The statement above about it now being occupied by businesses, storage, etc., is correct, but the discerning railfan/historian can easily pick it out as a former right of way.

Steve Ewald
Sacramento, CA
4/1/2009

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Paramount Petroleum was/is the last customer on the line. Up till the mid-1990s, the SP also serviced the Suprene Feed Company at Walker and Lincoln in Cypress, as well as Barr Lumber in Bellflower. Until at least the late 1980s, the SP used to set out covered hoppers at Artesia. I have a few photos of this line from the 1980s and 90s, showing trains crossing Valley View, as well as a few photos of the Suprene Feed Company, when it was still receiving shipments from the SP. I also have photos of the old PE substation at Bellflower, if anyone is interested.

Don B
Cincinnati, OH
5/10/2010

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My grandparents used to live right behind this track in La Palma. When I was younger, I remember at least one train every other day coming through there. Some of the trains were long and shook the house!

JK
Fullerton, CA
6/3/2011

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LA Metro Rail and OCTA are studying this corrdiro for some kind of rail service. See www.pacificelectriccorridor.com.

Dennis Lytton
Los Angeles, CA
7/21/2011

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My Grandparents had a house on Partridge Circle in La Palma. And this line was right behind their house. Then my parents and I lived there. We lived there in 1992-93. When we lived there SP dispatched about 1 train a day. Usually the power would be a pair of either GP38-2's, GP9, or a pair of either SW1500's or MP15's And they were always tank car trains.

They would come by about noon towards Bellflower, then they would come back to Santa Ana.

Joshua Lawn
Springfield , OR
12/23/2011

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I worked for a small computer company next to the Alamitos Branch which met with this branch in Stanton. I often ate my brown bag lunch at Beat Park where this line crossed a drainage ditch. The only trains I saw there consisted of tanker cars.

David
Cyrpess, CA
4/5/2013

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There were stations located at the corner of Moody and Crescent, on Valley View,corner of Knott and Ball, and at the corner of Orangewood and Magnolia. Sure miss these red cars.

Benjamin Gonzalez
Buena Park, CA
6/26/2013

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Don B,

If you are still around I am looking for your pictures. I am recreating Walker & Lincoln SP train line from when I was a kid in HO Scale. I lived off of Walker & Nelson growing up. When I was a kid I remember trains coming by Swain School when I was on recess. The only thing I remember about that feed store though was the horrid smell. ha. If anyone else has pictures of this area I would love a copy as well. Not sure if emails are allowed but to reach me go to bradchism.com and use the contact form. Thanks everyone. I look forward to hearing from you.

Brad Chism
Cypress & Huntington Beach, CA
12/31/2013

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I have an old SP timetable. The timetable says that the Santa Ana Branch is the existing track that went from Anaheim yard, thru South Anaheim, where the Tustin Branch came off, then down (thru the abandoned portion to Santa Ana), to Dyer to Costa Mesa. The branch being discussed here is what was called the "West Santa Ana Branch". There is still an old rail industry in West Santa Ana, I think it is off Raitt.

Stephanie
Santa Ana, CA
4/10/2014

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I lived in stanton from 1955 to 2012. I remember going down the tracks to the warehouses and stations on beach north of katella...It was a huge warehouse and also there was a water tower and a sand hopper there too. it had to be in the late 60's early 70's when they finally took all the buildings and the train service buildings

stonyirvers
stanton, CA
6/26/2014

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I grew up off this line in the 70's, and I remember about one train a day; some sort of GP pulling 10 mixed freight cars. My love for trains was nurtured largely through this line, and I saw that track was still down on Google Maps in 2005 (must have been old aerial photos), and was very sad when I visited the area in 2005 and there was no track left. Having moved away in the 80's I never knew much about this line and information was always sketchy on the web, so thanks everyone for the excellent write-up and history!!

Scott
Cypress
7/9/2014

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This is not a a southern pacific official line.... this belong to PACIFIC ELECTRIC please be more truthful ... dont place lies as a statement.

jesse blanquet
santa ana ca
12/25/2014

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Jesse,

Truth is you are an idiot.. http://www.uncanny.net/~wetzel/pedemise.htm ...

Please don't post unless you know, just cause you didn't read the plaque right that is sitting near the old lines doesn't mean you can post falsified information yourself. Union Pacific owns it now, trace the lines and look for yourself. I'll meet you at Broadway and Manchester when you reach the UP Anaheim Yard.

Have a good day,

Brad

Brad Chism
Cypress & HB, CA
12/26/2014

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Jesse, the line was originally built by Pacific Electric, which became part of Southern Pacific. Henry Huntington was a VP of Southern Pacific. Eventually the PE became part and parcel of SP. Now, SP is part and parcel of UP. If you want to be technical about it, it is owned by UP. Actually, you are wrong...the line today is owned by UP. Once the PE became part of the SP...the line WAS owned by SP. In 1987, PE did NOT exist...how could a non-existant company own anything? It is impossible. My SP timetable did NOT say "this line owned by another company" it said it was owned by SP...You need to get your facts straight before you attack someone else and claim they are dishonest.

Stephanie
Santa Ana, CA
12/26/2014

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Brad and Stephanie are correct, this was originally PE property which, of course, came under SP ownership, followed by the UP acquisition in the 90s. A sad day indeed. Jesse, take your meds.

Brad, my Suprene (Supreme?) Feed Co. photos are posted to my Flikr account. Try running a google search for Supreme Feed and see what happens. If that doesn't work, we can arrange something else. Best regards.

Don B
Cincinnati, OH
1/5/2015

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Metro is still studying this route for potential trolley/light rail. Most of the corridor is owned by Metro, with some sections under private ownership. https://www.metro.net/projects/west-santa-ana/

Paul Iverson
Irvine, CA
11/18/2015

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Nice. However, the plan is not to go all the way to West Santa Ana, it is only going to Artesia.

Stephanie
Santa Ana, CA
4/8/2016

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