Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Southern Pacific's Santa Ana Branch

This is a former Pacific Electric branch line, and had PE Red Car service to Santa Ana until 1950, when the service was cut back to Bellflower. Bellflower lost passenger service in 1958 (freight operations continued for several years after, however), but its station still stands, boarded up and unrefurbished.
The branch was abandoned in three sections: The Watts-Paramount section survived into the early 1970s, the middle section from Paramont to Stanton (which included Bellflower) was abandoned in 2003, and the southernmost section from Statnt to Santa Ana survived until 1978. After the Watts-Paramount segment was abandoned, the customers were served from the other direction from a junction with both the Southern Pacific's The Los Alamitos Branch and The Huntington Beach Branch, in Stanton. 

The rails were taken up from Watts working southeast in the early 1980s to a point just east of the SP diamond at Palomar. From Palomar to a point near Garfield Avenue in Paramount the tracks remained in place until some of the right-of-way land was cleared for the I-105 freeway. In Paramount, the line crossed the UP San Pedro branch to the harbor. In early 2003, the diamond was removed and a connection was built at this crossing to enable local trains on the UP line to serve the Paramount-area industries on the former PE line. As of July 2003 the tracks ended just west of Lakewood Boulevard at the eastern city limit of Paramount. The Paramount-to-Stanton segment was dismantled in July 2003. The Stanton-to-Santa Ana segment had been dismantled in 1978. While that older portion of the right of way is still visible in 2003, it is now used as parking lots for businesses, self storage facilities, etc. Generally, it cannot be walked or explored, and it has lost most of its railroad "look". FROM ABANDONED RAILS. 

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