Ocean Shore Railroad (Images of Rail: California)
With one of the world's most scenic backdrops as a brilliant seascape for passengers, the Ocean Shore Railroad skirted northern California's coastline to service communities south of San Francisco for the first two decades of the 20th century. As impressive as it was idealistic, the line was held prisoner by natural forces that eventually took too much of a toll to keep its striking route churning. Today's Highway 1 traces the passage once paved with tracks, and points to the few remnants of one of California's most well-known excursion lines.
railroad had to accommodate travelers on special flatcars equipped with seats. One can only imagine the precarious nature of the trip as the trains chugged along the cliff sides. It was undoubtedly a memorable ride; enough so that many postcards were printed promoting the excitement of the “excursion.” A group of engineers and crew pose next to Ocean Shore Locomotive No. 5 near the southern part of the railroad system. The San Pedro Terrace by the Sea Station, also known as Tobin Station or
accurate railroad model to show the public how unique this historic railroad that hugged the Pacific Coast and Devil’s Slide really was. “But before doing what we enjoy most, creating miniature wonderlands to view, we wanted to model the Ocean Shore as accurately as possible, so historians could enjoy from a bird’s eye view how incredible it must have been to ride the train along the cliffs of the coast,” Danilo recalls. “Armando and I owe all of our inspiration and drive to complete our dream
of course, involved the age-old development philosophy of providing access to a lovely location; the result would be riches for land speculators and homes for people seeking to live in a beautiful place. Most of the time, this combination has proven successful. Using dynamite and steam shovels, the Ocean Shore Railway construction crews forged a path through and around some of the most treacherous territory in California. Building a ledge along a cliff face was simple compared to blowing massive
tremendous amount of marketing and advertising that flooded San Francisco newspapers at the time is a testament to the ambitious plans of the railroad and the developers. A major land developer itself, the railroad bought up property along the route and hoped to carve it into suburbs full of new riders. Alas, while it is obvious that a ride on the Ocean Shore was comparable to the most exciting theme park attraction of today, the bustling suburbs never materialized. Today Pacifica, the city that
place to live. The term “Wavecrest” remains in the name of a contemporary Half Moon Bay development project. Whether commuting into the city from a home at the beach or just day-tripping, the Ocean Shore Railroad wanted to be all things to all coastsiders. The Ocean Shore’s No. 7 locomotive is pictured here c. 1907. These ladies were typical of the sightseers who boarded the Ocean Shore to reach the beach. In this case, they’re near Montara, south of Devil’s Slide. Although it didn’t last