Orange to Tustin

The Tustin Branch

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Note: Thanks to the Orange County Railway Historical Society for providing information for this article

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This is the former right of way of the SP Tustin Branch, where it crossed Glassell St. in Orange. This view faces east. The right of way is now occupied by a plant nursery. This location is less than a half mile east of 'Marlboro', the end of the active portion of the branch. Photo by Mike Palmer, June 2003.

This branch was built to serve the citrus packing houses and local construction firms in Orange County. At one point it had two separate crossings, one at Anaheim, and one at Orange, both within about a 12-mile distance.

In the late 19th/early 20th centuries, the Pacific Electric had a line that branched from the Tustin Branch at Santa Ana and ran from to Orange. This line was abandoned during the 1930s, however the northernmost segment remained in place as a "Pacific Electric orphan" for at least another 50 years, to the 1980s. It served a Sunkist packing house in Orange, and connected with the SP Tustin branch at a location called "Marlboro". (As of 2003, the Anaheim crossing at CP College is also a junction where UP trains access BNSF for trackage rights to Santa Ana. The Orange crossing is now the end of the active segment of the branch, at "Marlboro" for the UP and CP "Katella" for the BNSF.) A crossbuck lettered for PE was still in place in the 1980s. Pacific Electric was a subsidiary of SP, but it was separately operated (different train crews). PE was formally merged into SP in 1965.

The remaining track of the Tustin Branch, up to the end-of-line at Tustin, has been removed. The citrus groves were replaced with houses before the track was removed, so much of the right-of-way can still be easily located. The now-abandoned section headed east to Villa Park, then south to El Modena (whose former passenger station is south of La Veta Avenue; El Modena is now a part of Orange) and on to Tustin. The Villa Park-to-Tustin segment was abandoned in 1969 after a bridge washout at Santiago Creek. Part of the route is a maintained public path; the rest is a trail along a utility easement. The Marlboro-to-Villa Park segment was abandoned more recently; much of that section is now a plant nursery.

On McPherson Road it is said that the building across McPherson Road is the former station complex.

Benjamin Gonzalez
Buena Park , CA
6/26/2013

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When the ROW crosses La Veta that park was the former site of the La Veta PE Station.

Benjamin Gonzalez
Buena Park, CA
6/26/2013

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"La Veta P.E. Station"? P.E. never reached this neighborhood.

Steve Donaldson
San Carlos, CA
10/15/2013

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Not P.E sorry but its the former site of the southern pacific la veta station

Benjamin Gonzalez
Buena Park, CA
11/27/2013

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Picture 1 states Marlboro Junction is west of Glassell, in between Katella and Taft. BUT pic 4, which claims to be Marlboro Junction, is one mile south of Pic 1, between Walnut and Collins.

Kirk Juan
Orange, CA
3/2/2014

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Re Juan's comments about Marlboro Junction" mentions in captions for pix one and four...I don't find mention of that place in either caption. Marlboro itself was a station on S.P. Tustin Branch w/o SP/SFe Xing, altho name was sometimes loosly applied to P.E. spur as well.

Steve Donaldson
San Carlos, CA
3/15/2014

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The junction in pic 4 was previously labeled Marlboro Junction, now is labeled Olive Junction.

Kirk Juan
Orange, CA, CA
11/22/2014

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As far back as 1990, there was no connection to the Olive Sub at Marlboro, only a crossing. There was a spur East of Marlboro crossing that SP served. The crossing was taken out in 2008 or 2009 as I recall.

Stephanie
Santa Ana, CA
1/6/2015

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I need to edit...the crossing at Marlboro seems to have been removed prior to 2003. I have (or had) a UP timetable that said that the track east of Marlboro was "out of service". I need to check what the date of the timetable was. As it seemed to me, as soon as UP stopped using the crossing it was removed. The track shown going off to the left at the end as you look to the east, is an industrial track. At first the main continued to just short of the removed crossing where there was a red board. Later on the track was cut back to the industrial track. At the West end of the siding between the end of track and Batavia used to have a box that was for changing a signal indication, however, I never could figure a reason for it being there. Only on the West end, not the East end. I don't know if it is still there or not. Anyone else have any idea for it being there? It was connected to the switch points.

Stephanie
Santa Ana, CA
1/6/2015

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Shortly after the UP merged the SP into its railroad, the crossing of the Metrolink (formerly Santa Fe)Olive Subdivision at CP Katella (Marlboro) was removed. The plan was for a connection to be built at CP Katella to permit UP trains to access the remaining customer on the former PE/SP Orange Spur, however after some work was done on this project the junction plan was scraped and UP trains could access the Olive Sub via the trackage right the UP had between Anaheim and Santa Ana. The UP gave up the customer on the on the Orange Spur (it was also served by the BNSF)after a very short time.

Becareful of placing the date when the crossing at CP Katella (Marlboro) was removed by using UP employee timetable since the crossing was listed for sometime after it had been removed.

There was a distance signal that displayed only yellow near the Batavia St. crossing to provide a warning of the interlocking at CP Katella.

Clifford Prather
Orange, CA
5/24/2015

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Clifford, thank you for the information. I knew it was a latter timetable...and my recollection was that the crossing was pulled rather quickly. So, I don't understand why UP would still have had it "out of service" when it was already gone. I remember the distant signal by Batavia, the mast was still there the last time I was by there. CP Katellas is also gone. The signals were moved (replaced with new ones to a new place called CP Meats.

Stephanie
Santa Ana, CA
6/2/2015

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I do not know why the UP did not update some conditions in their Los Angeles Service Area timetable when changes were made, however I assume that they were not too concerned with have up to date info on minor lines such as the industrial lead to Marlboro. It did not affect operation significantly.

Cliff

Clifford Prather
Orange, CA
6/2/2015

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I have two photos of the old ROW, both on Wanda Rd. in Villa Park.

http://postimg.org/image/w37dgerez/

Here the Tustin Branch curved off of Wanda Rd heading NW toward Marlboro and Orange. The area behind the fence is now a gated community.

http://postimg.org/image/pns6elpbn/

This view faces south at the end of Wanda Rd. About a 1/2 mile down the road is the Santiago Creek where the line crossed into El Modena before heavy flooding destroyed the bridge in January-February 1969.

Michael T
Orange, CA
6/16/2015

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The El Modena Station was north of La Veta. David Hewes had two packinghouses south of La Veta. I'll email a couple of aerial photos.

Kirk Juan
Orange, CA
7/7/2016

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