A Short History Of The Ocean Shore Railroad (Part I)

train.jpgA Short History Of The Ocean Shore Railroad (Part I)

As told to me in 1980 by Randolph Brandt, whose father was an investor, a stockholder, in the Ocean Shore Railroad:

“He, like a number of other people in the days when the stock was being offered to the public market, thought it was a good thing and it apparently was.

“There are a number of banks and prominent people—quite a number of people, well-heeled financially that invested money in it. Mr. Downey Harveyt there, was one of the original promoters of the line and he dropped, I think, around $2 million in it. Of course, he was one of those people that inherited the money, you know, didn’t have to work for it.

“And another man who was pretty well-off financially, too, was Mr. Foelder of the well known Foelger Coffee Company, and he dropped quite a bit of money into it—somewhere between a million and a million-and-a-half.

“In those days, a million was not considered pennies.

“When they got this thing started—it was just before the earthquake, well, 1905, well, railroads were springing up all over the place, up and down the state—from one end to the other they were starting to build…

“Why not a line down the coast to Santa Cruz?

“One of the reasons was tht they figured if they built the line through to Santa Cru they could take a lot of the business away from the SP [Southern Pacific], which had the monopoly up ‘til then by going the other way.

“Look like a good proposition. No one else was in there. They started work from both ends with one crew working from San Francisco south, another crew starting from Santa Cru, working north.

“Got along fine until a certain day in April 1906 when they had an earthquake. One of things they didn’t’ anticipate was a good deal of construction equipment, particularly in the area around Mussel Rock tumbled off the right-of-way and down into the ocean.

“A considerable financial loss.

“And part of the right-of-way, likewise, followed the equipment into the ocean—more financial loss—and additional expenditures the promoters hadn’t figured on.

“Recovered from that somehow and they pared down the project a bit as a result of that. One of the shortcomings of the original promoters was that they were a little too grandiose in their ideas. They started out—it was planned as a double-track electric, actually, to run from San Francisco to Santa Cruz, via Half Moon Bay.

“Better off if they’d started out with a single-track steam line. Then as business justified it, then extending to double-track, they might have succeeded. When you grade for a double-track along the line it actually costs you more than if you grade for a single track, so it means more money out. Since they never used the double track, well, it was just money wasted…”

Photo: Randolph Brandt

…To be continued…