It is safe to say that the development of the Central Coast and Central Coast agriculture would not have happened without the railroads!
The fate of cities up and down the Salinas Valley were decided by where the railroads opened their depots. Salinas, Spreckles, Gonzales, Soledad, King City, Paso Robles, Templeton and Santa Margarita all owe their initial growth to the presence of the Southern Pacific Railroad, nicknames the S.P. or the Espey.
History of the Southern Pacific
When did the railroad go to Monterey? And was it for trade or recreational purposes?
Southern Pacific stops were created in the following towns as follows:
- Salinas, 1872
- Soledad, 1873. This remained the southern terminus of the Salinas Valley until 1885.
And the presence of the railroad influenced the shift in keystone crops.
- Small grains grown for dairy and domestic livestock gave way to wheat, which could be hauled to flour mills.
- Sugar beets were loaded at special sidings and transported to local refineries.
- Cold storage cars enabled the long-distance haulage of perishable commodities such as fresh fruit, berries, and lettuce.
With time, parts of the El Camino Real became integrated into the state of California’s transportation systems, and on the Central Coast, the California Pacific Coast Highway (California State Highway 1) and US Route 101 are the two main highways of the area. Highway 101 was one of the first designated highways in the U.S.
- Ryan, MaryEllen and Breschini, Gary S. Railroads of the Central Coast — An Overview. Monterey County Historical Society. Southern Pacific in Salinas Valley. http://mchsmuseum.com/railroads.html