Torrance to San Pedro

The Torrance Branch

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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 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.

Historic ICC Abandonment Filings

Docket Number: AB-12 Sub 16 Date: 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: 1.94 miles Citation:  

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


Shortened Link:

Do you have any pictures or information about The Torrance Branch? Please . You will get credit for anything you contribute.