Thursday, April 11, 2013

Ocean Shore Railroad look back

San Mateo County Times, John Horgan, 4/10/13.  "John Horgan:  Devil's Slide tunnels aren't first in the neighborhood."

The new twin tunnels through Montara Mountain are welcome gems of engineering. They allow motorists to avoid the perilous Devil's Slide cliffs and easily navigate Highway 1 between Pacifica and the smaller coastal communities to the south.

But lost in the justifiable euphoria surrounding last month's grand opening of the impressive double-bore is a little-known fact: This isn't the first time tunneling has been employed in that immediate neighborhood.

About 100 years ago, the ambitious investors of the Ocean Shore Railroad built a tunnel near the Pedro Point headlands, not far from the Devil's Slide cliffs, as part of a planned Coastside route from San Francisco.

The aim was to extend the rail line all the way to Santa Cruz. It didn't happen. The Ocean Shore was never finished; it ran into severe financial/construction woes and, along with the advent of available motorized transportation, finally went belly-up in 1920.

It lasted barely a full decade of only partial service. The old tunnel was later destroyed due to safety and other precautions.

For an excellent retelling of the brief life of the ill-fated coastal rail endeavor, complete with photographs, check out Chris Hunter's book on the subject.  His "Ocean Shore Railroad" is available from Arcadia Publishing. And it can be obtained at the San Mateo County History Museum's bookstore in downtown Redwood City. The list price is $19.99.  Read more.

Note:  The above Barnes and Noble edition, allows a 13 page look inside, and is sold the discounted price of $11.04.

Posted by Kathy Meeh

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