Ocean Shore Railroad (Images of Rail: California)
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With one of the world's most scenic backdrops as a brilliant seascape for passengers, the Ocean Shore Railroad skirted northern California's coastline to service communities south of San Francisco for the first two decades of the 20th century. As impressive as it was idealistic, the line was held prisoner by natural forces that eventually took too much of a toll to keep its striking route churning. Today's Highway 1 traces the passage once paved with tracks, and points to the few remnants of one of California's most well-known excursion lines.
and used as a diner. The engine at right was sold to the California Wine Association. Even today, people sometimes stumble across a bit of Ocean Shore memorabilia, often rusting away in a Central Valley field. This 1920 letter to the editor from the coyly named S.O. Long, has a biting edge to it that reveals some of the hard feelings about the end of the Ocean Shore Railroad. Seven NO MORE OCEAN SHORE ◆ ◆ ◆ RAILROAD, THAT IS Although it ended in 1920, the Ocean Shore Railroad continued to
cases of illegal alcohol in the abandoned tunnel. It became so commonplace and and such a well-known hiding place that eventually federal agents, weary of battling bootleggers over the tunnel, simply blew up its two entrances, sealing forever the hiding place. Folks growing up in the area remember clambering through tiny open spaces and telling stories about cases of treasure sealed within the tunnel. Whether that is true or not is unclear. There is no documentation of it being haunted or the
Brighton Beach, one of the developments launched by the Ocean Shore Railroad, included plans for a magnificent recreational water site. The Laguna Salada is now part of the Sharp Park Golf Course. The resort never materialized. The developers of the Salada Beach Casino envisioned a flourishing resort environment less than 20 miles from downtown San Francisco. Again, while the dreams were big, they were never realized beyond this postcard stage. The majestic rocks at San Pedro Point are perhaps
the 1906 earthquake in San Francisco. Henry Harrison McCloskey, an attorney for the Ocean Shore Railway, built the poured-concrete replica of a Scottish castle and called it “Bendemier.” It was sold following his death in 1914. McCloskey’s grandson Pete became a U.S. congressman, representing San Mateo County. The castle had a long and storied history, serving as everything from a mysterious clinic for illegal abortions to housing for the U.S. Coast Guard during World War II. In 1962 it was
much easier. The reality turned out to be quite different. Greek railroad gangs worked tirelessly to excavate the Pedro Point tunnel and carve out the Devil’s Slide ledges upon which the train would travel. Here the train comes through a cut near Green Canyon. Note the man seated at left. Called the Mermaid Special, this train was one of the very first runs along the completed Devil’s Slide ledge. Marketers for the Ocean Shore Railroad took delight in linking every aspect of the commercial