Original railroad bed near Del Mar, CA

The railroad line that runs from San Diego to Los Angeles has seen many changes since it was originally constructed the early 1880’s. One of those changes was at the Los Penasquitos Marsh, otherwise known as Soledad Marsh. Originally, the railroad went around the marsh, passing along the hills to the north instead of going directly through as it does today. This realignment took place in the mid 1930’s. The portion of the alignment crossing the marsh is still used as a utility right-of-way. The majority of the line outside the marsh has long since been redeveloped into housing.

Other than the short section of original right-of-way remaining, the only other trace of the route is through property lines. This lasting section of right-of-way represents one of the last section of intact original grade within the City of San Diego.

Slightly rehabilitated section of the roadbed.
Slightly rehabilitated section of the roadbed.

Remnants of the railroad include a short section of cut, some grading, and a culvert. These remnants are mostly in the area along Caminito Mar Villa, a private roadway. Use caution if you choose to explore this area.

Roadbed of the California Southern Railroad, bypassed in the 1930's.
Roadbed of the California Southern Railroad, bypassed in the 1930’s.
Original railroad culvert used by the current roadway.
Original railroad culvert used by the current roadway.

US 99 in Indio, CA

Old US 99 still has some gems remaining in the Coachella Valley. On of these is a set of railroad overpasses dating from 1936 and 1956 (56-09R/L). These structures may be replaced in the near future, so I took the opportunity to take some photos of them before they are gone. Each structure is different in type of construction as well as design. The 1936 structure retains its solid concrete railing, something somewhat unique for the period. Most bridges of that era had a more open and arched railing. This bridge has a very much “Art Deco” styling which still looks quite nice today. The bridge carried all US 99 traffic until 1956, when US 99 was upgraded to an expressway through this area. At that time, a second bridge for southbound/eastbound traffic was built. The 1956 span, a steel girder structure, is longer than the 1936 span. This may be due to plans, at that time, to eventually replace the 1936 bridge with a newer and longer span. While these plans may have been initially thwarted by the construction of I-10 on a new alignment east of here, the bridges days are indeed numbered with the reconstruction of the Jefferson St interchange and eventual realignment of roadways in this area.

These bridges are located on Indio Blvd just east of the Jefferson St interchange on I-10 in Indio, CA. Enjoy them while they last.

Detail of 1936 railing and date stamp.
Detail of 1936 railing and date stamp.
Recessed reflectors in the 1936 bridge end caps.
Recessed reflectors in the 1936 bridge end caps.
FAP (Federal Aid Primary) project sign on the 1957 bridge.
FAP (Federal Aid Primary) project sign on the 1956 bridge.
Comparison between the 1936 rail and 1957 rail.
Comparison between the 1936 rail and 1956 rail.
The different lengths of each bridge is well demonstrated in this photo.
The different lengths of each bridge is well demonstrated in this photo.

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