Watsonville Traction Company

Last updated
Watsonville Railway and Navigation Campany
Locale California
Dates of operation19041913
Track gauge 3 ft (914 mm)
Length6 miles (9.7 km)
Headquarters Watsonville, California

The Watsonville Traction Company or Watsonville Transportation Company was a 3 ft (914 mm) narrow gauge, [1] interurban electrified railway in California.

3 ft gauge railways

Three foot gauge railways have a track gauge of 3 ft or 1 yard. This gauge is a narrow gauge and is generally found throughout North, Central, and South America. In Ireland, many secondary and industrial lines were built to 3 ft gauge, and it is the dominant gauge on the Isle of Man, where it is known as the Manx Standard Gauge. Modern 3 ft gauge railways are most commonly found in isolated mountainous areas, on small islands, or in large-scale amusement parks and theme parks. This gauge is also popular in model railroading, and model prototypes of these railways have been made by several model train brands around the world, such as Accucraft Trains (US), Aristo-Craft Trains (US), Bachmann Industries, Delton Locomotive Works (US), LGB (Germany), and PIKO (Germany).


The interurban is a type of electric railway, with streetcar-like light electric self-propelled railcars which run within and between cities or towns. They were prevalent in North America between 1900 and 1925 and were used primarily for passenger travel between cities and their surrounding suburban and rural communities. Limited examples existed in Europe and Asia. Interurban as a term encompassed the companies, their infrastructure, and the cars that ran on the rails.

California State of the United States of America

California is a state in the Pacific Region of the United States. With 39.6 million residents, California is the most populous U.S. state and the third-largest by area. The state capital is Sacramento. The Greater Los Angeles Area and the San Francisco Bay Area are the nation's second- and fifth-most populous urban regions, with 18.7 million and 9.7 million residents respectively. Los Angeles is California's most populous city, and the country's second-most populous, after New York City. California also has the nation's most populous county, Los Angeles County, and its largest county by area, San Bernardino County. The City and County of San Francisco is both the country's second-most densely populated major city after New York City and the fifth-most densely populated county, behind only four of the five New York City boroughs.



Route in 1912 Watsonville Traction Company 1912.jpg
Route in 1912

Watsonville was served by the Southern Pacific railroad, but local businessmen felt they could secure more favorable rates if they had a seaport. A 6-mile (9.7 km) electric railway line was built from Main Street in Watsonville along Wall Street to a wharf constructed from the shore of Monterey Bay at Port Rogers. A power station, car barn, and freight warehouse were built on Beach Road where the electric line crossed the similarly narrow gauge Pajaro Valley Consolidated Railroad; but there was little cause to interchange cars because the steam railroad served its own wharf at Moss Landing. The electric railroad had two street cars serving the dual purpose of carrying passengers and pulling some of the railroad's two boxcars and four flatcars. [2]

Watsonville, California City in California in California

Watsonville is a city in Santa Cruz County, California, United States. The population was 51,199 according to the 2010 census. Located on the central coast of California, the economy centers predominantly around the farming industry. It is known for growing strawberries, apples, lettuce and a host of other vegetables. Watsonville is home to people of varied ethnic backgrounds. There is a large Hispanic population, as well as groups of Croatians, Filipinos, Portuguese, Sikhs, and Japanese that live and work in the city.

Monterey Bay bay of the Pacific Ocean in California, United States

Monterey Bay is a bay of the Pacific Ocean located on the coast of the U.S. state of California. The bay is south of the major cities of San Francisco and San Jose. The county-seat city of Santa Cruz is located at the north end of the bay. The city of Monterey is on the Monterey Peninsula at the south end. The Monterey Bay Area is a local colloquialism sometimes used to describe the whole of the Central Coast communities of Santa Cruz and Monterey counties.

Power station facility generating electric power

A power station, also referred to as a power plant or powerhouse and sometimes generating station or generating plant, is an industrial facility for the generation of electric power. Most power stations contain one or more generators, a rotating machine that converts mechanical power into electrical power. The relative motion between a magnetic field and a conductor creates an electrical current. The energy source harnessed to turn the generator varies widely. Most power stations in the world burn fossil fuels such as coal, oil, and natural gas to generate electricity. Others use nuclear power, but there is an increasing use of cleaner renewable sources such as solar, wind, wave and hydroelectric.

1904 & 1905

The 997-ton passenger-carrying steam schooner F.A.Kilburn was built by Hans Ditlev Bendixsen of Fairhaven, California, to operate as a produce packet between the wharf and San Francisco. Kilburn's maiden voyage in May 1904 brought seventy passengers from San Francisco to meet the electric cars at Port Rogers. Regular scheduling had the Kilburn leave Port Rogers in the early evening to arrive in San Francisco the following morning in time for the early market, where it became known as the berry boat. Within a few months of initiating service the wharf at Port Rogers required replacement of timbers damaged by teredo worms. Heavy seas damaged the wharf soon after the damaged timbers had been replaced with redwood. The total cost of repairs was $35,000; and the company declared bankruptcy on 8 September 1905. [2]

Hans Ditlev Bendixsen American shipbuilder

Hans Ditlev Bendixsen was an American shipbuilder who was instrumental in the development of the merchant marine industry on the West Coast of the United States. His lumber schooners were built in or near Eureka, California in shipyards on Humboldt Bay for over 30 years. These schooners played a major role in the historic west coast lumber trade.

Fairhaven, California Census-designated place in California, United States

Fairhaven is an unincorporated community and census-designated place (CDP) adjacent to Humboldt Bay in Humboldt County, California, United States. It is located 2.25 miles (3.6 km) west-southwest of downtown Eureka, at an elevation of 10 feet (3.0 m) above sea level.

San Francisco Consolidated city-county in California, US

San Francisco, officially the City and County of San Francisco, is a city in, and the cultural, commercial, and financial center of, Northern California. San Francisco is the 13th-most populous city in the United States, and the fourth-most populous in California, with 883,305 residents as of 2018. It covers an area of about 46.89 square miles (121.4 km2), mostly at the north end of the San Francisco Peninsula in the San Francisco Bay Area, making it the second-most densely populated large US city, and the fifth-most densely populated U.S. county, behind only four of the five New York City boroughs. San Francisco is also part of the fifth-most populous primary statistical area in the United States, the San Jose–San Francisco–Oakland, CA Combined Statistical Area.

1911 to 1913

The company was reorganized as the Watsonville Railway and Navigation Company on 22 April 1911 with Port Rogers renamed Port Watsonville. The rolling stock was stored while service was discontinued through the bankruptcy proceedings, and one of the two streetcars had been destroyed by fire in 1909. The berry boat had run aground off Coos Bay while being operated in coastal trade by stockholder Fred Linderman, but was towed to North Bend, Oregon to receive a new rudder and a patch for the holed hull. The railroad resumed operation with the streetcar and ten flatcars, which were often fitted with benches for carrying additional passengers to various entertainment events on Monterey Bay beaches. The company was unable to pay for repairs after a December 1912 storm destroyed 160 feet of the wharf; so operations ceased in October 1913. The repaired berry boat went through a series of owners before burning off American Shoal Light on 14 June 1918. [2]

Coos Bay bay in Oregon, USA

Coos Bay is an S-shaped inlet where the Coos River enters the Pacific Ocean, approximately 10 miles (16 km) long and two miles wide, on the Pacific Ocean coast of southwestern Oregon in the United States. The city of Coos Bay, once named Marshfield, was renamed for the bay and is located on its inner side. The Port of Coos Bay is the largest and deepest port between San Francisco, California and the Columbia River.

North Bend, Oregon City in Oregon, United States

North Bend is a city in Coos County, Oregon, United States with a population of 9,695 as of the 2010 census. North Bend is surrounded on three sides by Coos Bay, an S-shaped water inlet and estuary where the Coos River enters Coos Bay and borders the city of Coos Bay to the south. North Bend became an incorporated city in 1903.

American Shoal Light lighthouse in Florida, United States

The American Shoal Light is located east of the Saddlebunch Keys, just offshore from Sugarloaf Key, close to Looe Key, in Florida, United States. It was completed in 1880, and first lit on July 15, 1880. The structure was built to the same plan and dimensions as the Fowey Rocks lighthouse, completed in 1878.

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  1. California's Narrow Gauge Railroads
  2. 1 2 3 Fabing, H.W. (1966). "Watsonville Transportation Company". The Western Railroader. Francis A. Guido. 29 (322): 1–15.
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