Railroad Author John Schmale: On Montara’s dangling rails/washout

Story by John Schmale, author of the “Petaluma and Santa Rosa Railroad”


Hi Angelo Et al,

I will try to clear up a few details of the Montara-Farallone washout. The photo showing the Ocean Shore Railroad mainline track suspended in air was made after the fill was blown out from beneath it. There was no trestle over that creek. It was a fill. A list of trestles made before 1916 would not show it, because it did not exist.  The drain tunnel under the fill became  plugged with debris during the terrible storm of January 1916. This created a lake (flood ) behind the fill.  The county highway bridge was ten feet under water and the water was over 40 feet deep at the railroad fill. A hasty decision was made to blast the fill. On January 13, 1916, setting off a large a charge of dynamite, a crew blew out the center of the fill. The tremendous rush of water took out the entire railroad fill and much of the county road and bridge, but saved the Montara Light Station. A few days later the decision was made to replace the railroad  fill with a trestle. The trestle was called the Farallone trestle and was in the “Farallone City” sub-division which is just south of Montara. The original Farallone City map extended into Montara and near the Montara Depot. I think it is now all Montara. I will post some photos as I find them.

John Schmale


From John Vonderlin

Hi Guys,

Here’s another small bit from the “Pacific Rural Press,” to flesh out the “strangerails” story. Thanks for all the help everyone. Looking forward to the pictures. Enjoy. John P.S. Looking at the ScreenShot and where the rain totals were so far ahead of average, it looks like this was an El Nino year.

[Image below: California Weather Record for week ending January 17, 1916.]


Email John ([email protected])