— ICC Abandonment Filings —
|Southern Pacific Railroad|
|Docket: 24086||3/31/1966||Section: 1(18)|
|Applic. for auth. to aband. a port. of its Stanton Br., betw. M.P. 23.50, at or near Seal Beach, and M.P. 32.54, at or near Huntington Beach; a distance of 9.24 mi., (including 0.20 mile equation), together with a contiguous portion betw. M.P. 35.48 and M.P. 35.29, a distance of .19 mi., making a total distance of 9.43 mi., in Orange County, Calif., together with all sidings, spur tracks and appurtenances.|
|Length: 9.43 miles|
— User Comments —
This line ran due south from a wye junction with the Los Alamitos Line slightly west of Stanton. A switch just south of Hazard Ave created the branch that serviced the munitions trains traveling to the Naval Weapons Station at Seal Beach. Continuing due south, the Stanton Branch passed through Wintersburg and on to Huntington Beach.
I believe the abandonment filing shown above is for that portion of the line south of the Navy station branch since I recall seeing active trains entering the Naval facility as late as the early nineties; I have only very recently seen that the tracks to the Navy station have now been removed (sometime between 2008 and 2012).
The document dated 3/31/1966 refers to the branch starting in Seal Beach at the San Gabriel River and running along the Electric Ave right-of-way. The branch continued south through Sunset Beach. Both the Seal Beach and Sunset Beach right-of-ways are now greenbelts or vehicle parking areas. The branch continued along the present Bolsa Chica State Beach finally crossing Pacific Coast Hwy at 1st St where it continued north paralleling Gothard St in Huntington Beach and Hoover St in Westminster. I measured the beginning and ending distance from Seal Beach to Huntington Beach, described above, as 9.3 miles using the Google Earth ruler utility.
Although this branch crossed the Seal Beach NWS rail line a short distance from its terminus at the Anaheim Bay loading dock, I don't think the Seal Beach to Huntington Beach line ever had access to the NWS line due to the Navy's security restrictions.
I was 14 years old in 1965 and recall one day hearing the sound of a locomotive engine coming from the Electric Ave right-of-way 7/10ths of a mile from my home. That must have been one of the last times a train ran on those tracks.
The link goes to a photo of the Seal Beach Historical Society train museum on Electric Ave.
Although I could be wrong, and I have since lost the original reference I used to describe the Stanton line, I have now found this LA Times article that discusses old railroad rights-of-way and it describes the Stanton line as beginning "...near Huntington Beach Civic Center and parallels Beach Boulevard through Westminster and Stanton, where it links up with Southern Pacific's Los Alamitos branch line."
I have no doubt that the Stanton branch ran and still runs from Stanton south to Huntington Beach. My contention is that the cited abandonment filing refers to the portion of that branch that ran from Seal Beach down the coast to Huntington Beach before turning inland.
The link below to the Thomas Bros. map from 1956 shows the P. E. Ry (Pacific Electric Railway) entering Seal Beach from the Naples community of Long Beach and continuing southeast. Note that there is a bridge allowing the P. E. Ry to pass over the Navy tracks. The two tracks never connected. You can zoom-in on the map.
Ah, yes. Now, after seeing maps showing the north-south line to Stanton as an extension from Seal Beach rather than from Newport Beach (based on the curve of the tracks where it turns inland), I agree with you on what 9+ miles the abandonment notice refers to. Also, I am reading several references where the inland section of track has had several names over the years, including on this website where much of it is called the Huntington Beach branch.
The actual connection to the Naval Weapons Station was along the inland section and ran east-west from Westminster. In the 1961 map referenced below, the track to the NWS favors from the south, but the lastest alignment was actually curving from the north, which makes sense with the routing change that this abandonment probably caused.
Reference maps: http://www.historicmapworks.com/Map/US/157305/Orange+County+++Page+102/Orange+County+1961/California/
pacific electric crews work out of anaheim,ca.
Randall pretty much covers this, but the confusion here stems from the abandonment notification referencing the "Stanton" Branch. By the mid-1960's, Southern Pacific had lumped its Los Alamitos and Huntington Beach branches with what remained of Pacific Electric's Newport line to form what it referred to as the "Stanton Branch." Note that SP was the parent company of the PE and therefore incorporated the former PE system into the greater SP network through the 1950s and 60s. SP no doubt called this conglomeration of track the Stanton Branch due to the fact that Stanton was the common denominator, as you had to go through or past the Staton wye to access either Los Al, Huntington Beach or Seal Beach. Indeed, PE's New Port Line had, by 1966, been severed between Seal Beach and Long Beach (dredging of Alamitos Bay Marina) and Southern Pacific's old Santa Ana to Newport line had been scrapped decades earlier. With SP crews operating out of Anaheim, Stanton was the only way to access the various bits of remaining track. The Naval ammo facility was an entirely different operation and never connected to the PE Newport line at Seal Beach. In fact, PE had to realign its crossing at Anaheim Bay to accommodate wartime construction and operations at the Seal Beach Naval facility. To confuse matters, PE's former Santa Ana line was later lumped in with the "Stanton" Branch, with SP swapping out the diamond at Stanton for a direct connection between the Santa Ana line and the Stanton-Anaheim alignment. All that survives today is a portion of the Huntington Beach Branch or what was originally known as the Smeltzer Branch. Construction of large industrial parks in the 1960s and 70s infused new life into a declining Huntington Beach/Smeltzer Branch, ensuring its survival into the 21st century. The wye at Stanton remains intact, though the Los Al branch west of Knott is now but a memory.
I take interest because I have been aware of these tracks since I was a child living in Long Beach. The rumor was that Seal Beach NWS stored nuclear weapons and hauled them through the neighborhoods to the east of the base, on those tracks that connected through Stanton, making the whole area an active enemy target. Duck and Cover!
Also, my late wife lived as a child in the neighborhood to the southwest of the junction of said NWS line to the north-south Stanton Branch. Unfortunately, the houses were built on top of a hazardous waste dump and in later years was a Superfund environmental cleanup site.