The Torrance Branch

Torrance to San Pedro, California

This bridge, designed by architect Irving Gill, was built in 1913. A stylized drawing of this bridge is now used as a symbol for the City of Torrance.The bridge originally carried an SP spur that served a steel mill out of the picture to the left. The steel mill was torn down in the late 70s/early 80s. There is still an isolated section of track on the bridge. The line below, a one time PE route, is still used by Union Pacific. It was re-built with used welded rail and new ballast earlier in 2003. Photo by Mike Palmer, October 2003.
This view is facing south at the corner of Normandie and Sepulveda in the Harbor City area. This remnant was finally removed in 2003 after the gas station property was demolished and readied for redevelopment. It was near this location in 1966 that an SP mogul was loaded onto a large truck for transport to the Lomita Railroad Museum. Photo by Mike Palmer, October 1983.
This view is facing east at Belle Porte Avenue in Harbor City. This remnant was photographed in 1996, long after the rest of the tracks were removed in this area (around 1973). Photo by Mike Palmer.
These tracks had been dormant, largely covered in dirt and weeds, for many years. A real estate developer received permission to build houses on this land, so the first step in preparation was to "dig up" the old track and dismantle it. This view faces south from the corner of Torrance Boulevard and Normandie Avenue, in the "Harbor Gateway" section of the City of Los Angeles. Photo by Mike Palmer, March 2007.
An Armco Porter switcher at the Torrance Armco Steel plant. This switcher was stored after the plant it served was demolished; at a later date it was transferred to the Camp Pendleton to assist in reconstructing the flood-damaged U.S. Marine Corps tracks. Its present whereabouts and disposition is not known. Taken in late 1977/early 1978. Photo by Mike Palmer.
A map of the former Pacific Electric lines between Torrance and San Pedro. (Submitted by Mike Palmer)

This abandoned railway line was originally built by Pacific Electric around 1911 and had several interesting spurs and branches. These spurs served large steel mills, and Pacific Electric located its main shops off another spur. The PE shops building was torn down in the 1970s. While PE red car (passenger) service ended in 1940, the PE and later SP continued to use the route for freight for several years.

Freight traffic supported the steel mills, lumber yards, and a few other small businesses. In 1966, SP Mogul #1765 was purchased by the City of Lomita, and it was shipped along this line to Harbor City. From Harbor City the engine was trucked to what is now the Lomita Railroad Museum, where it can be seen on display (along with other exhibits; see the link below). Much of this line was abandoned in the late 1960s.

One mile of track in Torrance, serving a lumber yard, remained in service until about 1990. These last surviving rails were pulled up in the mid-late 1990s, after the UP merger. The abandoned section extended south from the Torrance depot (which has been rebuilt as "The Depot" restaurant), largely along city streets, to the northern edge of San Pedro. Stations served included Ocean Avenue, Cuera, Joughins, Weston Street, Harbor City, Smelter, and Hilldale.

South of Hilldale, the line is still active as part of Pacific Harbor Lines, serving a local oil refinery. Sections of the right of way can still be located in 2004, but more and more are disappearing over time. In Harbor City, a Self Storage facility was built on the right of way in the 1990s. Further south, at Belle Porte avenue (near where Smelter "station" was), an isolated spur remnant survived over 20 years after the tracks were abandoned. The remnant runs at right angles to the main abandoned line.

In downtown Torrance, Armco Steel had a rail-served plant, located just south of the arch bridge in the picture above. The plant had a Porter shop switcher, as seen in the picture below. The plant was closed and demolished by the early 1980s. This switcher was stored, and later sold for use in the mid-1980s reconstruction of flood-damaged US Marine Corps track at Camp Pendleton, CA, which connected with The Fallbrook Branch of the Santa Fe.

—  ICC Abandonment Filings  —

Southern Pacific Railroad
Docket: AB-12 Sub 16 6/5/1974 Section: 1(18)
Applic. for auth. to abandon the end portion of its Torrance Branch extending from MP 502.87 near the City of Torrance southerly to the end of the branch at MP 504.81 near Harbor City, a distance of 1.94 mi., in Los Angeles County, Calif.
Length: 1.940 miles Citation:  

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—  User Comments  —

The switcher is located at the Pacific Southwest RR Museum in Campo.

Rainbow, CA

The ARMCO steel plant in Torrance was closed in 1985. Area was redeveloped into a shopping center.


Link to photos of the old plants:

Not Jack Northrup
Torrance, CA

This line still serves U.S. Gypsum in Torrance.

Southern, CA

Any plans to make a light rail line?

Fred Martinez
San Fernando, CA