Whittier, California (Part II)

The Whittier Branch

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This view shows the end of the branch, facing northeast. The track ends next to the signal; it no longer crosses Burke St. where the semi trailers are parked. The signal is no longer in use; it was for the junction with the La Habra Branch. The rusted metal "X" (crossing) sign in the foreground likely dates back to the Pacific Electric days. Photo by Mike Palmer, 2004.

This was actually two separate branches prior to 1942, when both Southern Pacific and its subsidiary Pacific Electric each had its own branch to Whittier from the south. SP abandoned much of its line in 1942, and connected the remaining section to the PE branch. The area then abandoned by SP has since been extensively built up with commercial buildings and cannot be traced except with old maps. The former PE section, from Los Nietos Junction, through Whittier, to the SP section that ended at a hospital, actually remained in place until the late 1980s. The line served packing houses in Whittier; several of the crossings had "wig-wag" signals until the end. A half-mile stub still exists at the south end of the branch (see photo). Part of the ex-PE right of way is still open, while another has houses built on it. Most of the packing houses have been replaced by a shopping center. Part of the ex-SP right of way is still in place also, but there are no traces of any sidings.

See also the The Anaheim Branch.

Historic ICC Abandonment Filings

SOUTHERN PACIFIC RAILROAD
Docket Number: 13688 Date: 4/9/1942 Section: 1
App. of Southern Pacific RR Co, (owner) and Southern Pacific Company (operator) for abandonment of so-called Whittier Branch extending between points at or near Studebaker to a point near Whittier, all within Los Angeles, County, Calif. approx. 5.915 miles.
Length: 5.915 miles Citation: 252 ICC 806  

More of the original S.P. Branch survives than indicated in narrative: the mile or so indicated by thin line parallel to Santa Fe Springs Road between Valla(yard indicated on map w/o York Field) and connection(former crossing) with AT&SF below Los Nietos Road. This segment was preserved when rest of branch abandoned to be jointly served by S.P. and Santa Fe, altho only BNSF switches the several industries along the track today. Also, the first mile or so from Studebaker(junction with Santa Ana Branch) was rebuilt as part of S.P. Puente Cutoff in 1950s (note Los Nietos yard on map w/o Norwalk Blvd. on this 'new' route, which was built to expedite harbor and O.C. traffic around L.A. Also the loop marked on the map was never operated as a continuous line, but only suggests the routes of the two companies' separate routes into downtown Whittier where P.E. picked up a very short length of S.P. rail when the later abandoned its full branch.

Steve Donaldson
S.F. Bay Area, formerly O.C, CA
2/19/2010

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I found it interesting to note that a short section of the old right of way north of Washington Blvd. is named Pacific Electric Railway. A very fitting acknowledgement!

Brian Jaecker-Jones
Altadena, CA
10/19/2011

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I looked this up on Historic Aerials which goes back to 1953. The abandoned portion of the SP Branch appears not to have made the slight jog before crossing Slauson but continued staight accross Valla Yard and continued to the junction with the SP Santa Ana Branch.

Both branches met at what is now the Whittier Marketplace shopping center. This is where the SP Depot was. Before passenger servce ended, the PE continued into downtown Whittier where the PE Depot was.

Bob Allessi
Southern, CA
3/4/2012

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I can tell you with certainty having grown up in Whittier and played on these tracks as a youth, that picture #2 is a view from the south side of Whittier Bl looking North Easterly. The street lamp visible in the background to the right is one for Magnolia Ave. standing in the place of the photographer the UPS store and CVS would be across the street on the left side of the tracks where the largest of the buildings is. The tracks continued to the right, crossing Magnolia and behind Kaspar's Market. The SP depot was directly behind Kaspar's where Bailey St terminates. There were several sidings in the yard area between the market and depot. In the 70's we kids saw only a couple of SP locomotives on this spur crawl along. I was never sure why the train came through since there was no businesses we ever saw getting served. We spent most of our rail fan time a few blocks away on the UP line which still ran a daily route and enjoyed the switching of freight cars between Philadelphia and Penn Sts.

Tom Garcia
Whittier, CA
12/1/2012

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