SP Coast Line, Burbank Junction to Ventura

This route covers the following subdivisions:

The Coast Line separates from the SP San Joaquin Division, the “B” line, at Burbank Junction (MP 462.6, el. 594 ft.), where there are crossovers, one track diverges to the west and one continues straight ahead and runs diagonally towards the northwest corner of the San Fernando Valley. The route from Burbank Junction to San Francisco is the SP’s “E” line, the coast main line. It was a part of the Los Angeles Division to San Luis Obispo (and the Western Division north of there; in the 1960s and before there was a Coast Division from Santa Barbara to San Jose.)  The original coast line connected Ventura to Saugus via the Santa Clara River valley through Santa Paula and Fillmore. Due to congestion between Saugus and Burbank E. H. Harriman constructed the “Montalvo Cutoff” between Montalvo and Burbank Jct. via Oxnard, Moorpark and Chatsworth. This was rather expensive construction, including the 7369-foot Chatsworth tunnel and the 1753-foot bridge over the Santa Clara River. The Montalvo cutoff is now the main line; the line through Santa Paula declined in usefulness and was lost to washouts in the 1978 storms.

Immediately west of the junction, the Direct Traffic Control (the Hewitt Block), Automatic Block Signals line, maximum speed 60 mph, passes over Victory Place on a bridge. There are more signals at this location (part of the signaling for Burbank Junction). The area north of the tracks is the site of the original Lockheed Aviation factories and airstrip, and later the famed “skunk works” where secret plans from the P-80 to the F-117 were designed and constructed.  The line crosses Buena Vista Street on a road crossing, Vanowen Street comes alongside to the south and Empire Avenue to the north. There are signals at Vega (MP 460.5), and the line crosses over Hollywood Way on a bridge, then passes the end of the Burbank Airport and a road crossing at Clybourn Avenue, and the streets alongside turn away or end.

The line crosses Vineland Avenue and Tujunga Avenue at grade. There is a spur track on the south side east of Tujunga Avenue. The line then crosses Lankershim Boulevard, Sherman Way, and Laurel Canyon Boulevard on bridges, passes a spur on the north side to an industry, and crosses the Hollywood Freeway and Whitsett Avenue (adjacent to the freeway) on bridges. There are grade crossings at Bellaire Avenue and Coldwater Canyon Avenue. There is a lineside spur on the north side of the tracks, signals at Hewitt (MP 458.4), that control the east end of the “Gemco” yard, and bridges over a flood control channel and Woodman Avenue. The former General Motors car assembly plant at Van Nuys was once alongside the tracks (mostly to the north) in this vicinity. The eight-track Gemco yard, on the north side east of MP 455.5, is still quite active with local freights delivering cars to the Anheuser-Busch brewery, Los Angeles Times, and other customers in the valley. At MP 451.7, the Hewitt Bock ends and the Northridge Block starts.

The line bridges over Van Nuys Boulevard and Raymer Street comes alongside to the south of the tracks, with signals at Raymer (MP 454.1). There is a footbridge over the tracks at Willis St., the line crosses over the Pacoima Wash, there is a bridge over Sepulveda Boulevard, followed by I-405 passing overhead on a bridge. Immediately west of that bridge is the Anheuser-Busch brewery on the north side of the tracks, with additional A-B facilities on the south side (where the erstwhile Busch Gardens Aviary once was, and where a footbridge once going to the latter remains). There are signals at LA Metro (MP 452.5), grade crossings at Woodley Avenue and Roscoe Boulevard, a spur trails in on the north side, and grade crossings at Balboa Boulevard, and Lindley Avenue. East of Lindley Avenue, the track is bordered by stands of trees on both sides.

The line bridges over Parthenia Street, where there is a detector at MP 451.3, the line bridges over Reseda Boulevard, there is a bridge over Wilbur Wash, the line crosses Tampa Avenue at grade, passes a spur on the north side into Best Buy, bridges over drainage, passes signals at Northridge (MP 449.9), under the Nordhoff Way bridge, and a spur on the north side into an industry, and crosses Corbin Avenue, Winnetka Avenue and Mason Avenue at grade. There is a detector at MP 448.1, a grade crossing at De Soto Avenue, a bridge over Browns Canyon Wash as the line turns due north, and a grade crossing at Lassen Street. At MP 446.1, the Northridge Block ends and the Chatsworth Block starts. In the 4,056 ft.  Chatsworth siding (MP  445.5), the tracks cross Devonshire Street and Chatsworth Street at grade along the siding, then  a detector at MP 444.4.

West of Chatsworth, the line, with maximum speed 40 mph, passes through the famous ‘Chatsworth Rocks’ area, now permanently changed from its appearance in the days of steam by the extension of Topanga Canyon Boulevard to reach the Simi Valley freeway to the north. The line curves from north to west, passes through 537 ft. tunnel 28 at MP 443.9, emerging under Topanga Canyon Boulevard with Santa Susana Pass road adjacent on the north side, turns south through a rock cutting, passes through 924 ft. tunnel 27 (MP 442.9), emerges onto a high ledge above Chatsworth park as it curves west again and then passes Intermediate Signals at MP 442.6 and through 7,369 ft. tunnel 26 (MP 441.2) under thousand foot high Santa Susana Pass. The bold sandstone mountains along this line are covered in the typical Southern California brush and yellow grass (except in spring, when the grass is green).

The line then enters the Simi Valley, with extra track on the north side, with signals at Hasson, MP 441.0), where the maximum speed rises to 70 mph for passenger trains and 60 mph for freights. Along the way, it passes under Santa Susana Pass Road and passes the relocated Santa Susana Depot, now home to a model railroad club, on the south side of a curve to the northwest. There are grade crossings at Katherine Road (MP 439.7) and Hidden Ranch Drive (MP 438.27), with a detector at MP 439.2 between them, as the line curves due west and comes along the south side of Los Angeles Avenue.

Almost immediately, Los Angeles Avenue crosses the line at grade (MP 437.7) and then runs along the south side of the track, which has an 8,130 ft. siding at Santa Susana ( MP 437.5), where the Chatsworth Block ends and the Santa Susana Block starts. The line then crosses, in turn, Tapo Street, with extra track on the north side for a lumber yard, Tapo Canyon Road, Sequoia Avenue and Sycamore Drive. There are signals at Simi Valley (MP 436.8) The line then crosses Erringer Road at grade before turning away from its due westerly course to angle to the west-northwest. The line crosses First Street at grade. There is a detector at MP 434.0.

The line now leaves the suburban housing of Simi Valley and enters an area alternating between grassy hills and light industry. There are signals at Simi (MP 433.5). The line passes under Madera Road surrounded by light industry. A separate segment of Los Angeles Avenue comes alongside from the south. There are more signals at Strathearn (MP 432.3). There is a grade crossing at Quimisa Drive, at the entrance of Oak County Park, followed by a grade crossing of Los Angeles Avenue as the line angles west-southwest and the street meets the 118 Freeway in Moorpark.

Now in the valley of the Las Posas Arroyo, the line crosses the Arroyo Simi four times in the next three miles, and passes through the Virginia Colony, where it crosses Virginia Colony Place, crosses the arroyo on a girder bridge below a bluff on the south side of the track, crosses the arroyo again, for the last time and goes on into the old center of Moorpark. There is a  4,912 ft. south side siding at Moorpark, where the Santa Susana Block ends and the Moorpark Block begins, and a grade crossing at Spring Street. The abandoned feed mill on the north side of the tracks was styled to represent the old SP Moorpark depot.

Moorpark Avenue grade crossing is at MP 427.0. Poindexter Avenue runs alongside the line to the south as the line exits the suburbs and enters the farming countryside. Next is a grade crossing at Gabberts Road. A little further to the west, yet another segment of Los Angeles Avenue comes alongside the line to the south. There are signals and a detector at Lagol (MP 424.4), a grade crossing at Grimes Canyon Road, the line bridges over Mejico Creek, crosses over to the south side of Los Angeles Avenue at grade, then runs in a small cutting along the south side of that street, with signals at Somis (MP 419.8).

The line angles southwest, away from the Los Angeles Avenue and comes along the south side of Somis Road, heading south-southwest. There is a private road crossing at Hagel Lumber Company, and a 5,514 ft. siding at Camarillo (MP 416.6), where the Moorpark Block ends and the Camarillo Block begins (MP 417.2). Along the east edge of Camarillo, where Somis Road becomes Lewis Road, there are grade crossings at Upland Road and Adolfo Road. There is a detector at MP 414.8, US 101 crosses overhead on a bridge, the line passes under Lewis Road in an area of light industry. A short way further west, now out in the fields again, the line crosses Pleasant Valley Road, comes alongside 5th Street and both street and line turn due west, with the street on the south side of the track, trees on the north side. The territory is mostly open agricultural fields; in the distance to the north is the Camarillo airport (once an Air Force Base).

Some distance further west through the fields, the line crosses Las Posas Road at grade. The line crosses Wood Road at grade, there are signals at Leesdale (MP 408.7), west end of the Oxnard siding, where the Camarillo Block ends and the Oxnard Block begins, the line crosses Pleasant Valley Road at grade (again), and bridges over Revelon Slough. The line crosses Del Norte Boulevard at grade, there is a spur to the north side of the track serving lineside industry, and the line crosses Rice Avenue at grade. There are three extra tracks on the north side, a 5,701 ft. north side siding at Oxnard (MP 407.8), where the maximum speed is 40 mph, and a nine-track yard on the north side of the siding. The line crosses Rose Avenue at grade. There is a signal at a spur going off to the south side of the line and crossing Fifth Street. As the line starts to make a sweeping curve to the north, the old SP Oxnard depot is on the south side of the track. There is a junction with the Ventura County Railway halfway around the curve, followed by the Oxnard Amtrak-Metrolink station. The latter has a depot on the southwest side of the curve, adjacent to the Ventura County connection. There is parking to the south of the depot. The single platform is on the west side of the track, extending north from the depot and under the Third Street bridge that crosses the tracks at this point. Oxnard yard is busy with local industry and interchange with the Ventura County Railway, which serves Port Hueneme and the US Navy base.

Heading north, now, alongside Oxnard Boulevard (State Route 1) to the west of the line, there are signals at El Rio (MP 405.6), where the maximum speed is 60-50. The line crosses Cooper Road, Colonia Road, Gonzales Road and Vineyard Avenue at grade.  Curving northwest, the line crosses over Oxnard Boulevard on a bridge as the street runs into a freeway entrance for US 101. The line crosses Ventura Road on a bridge that is continuous with the bridge over the Santa Clara River that follows. At the west end of the river bridge, the line crosses over Johnson Drive. There is a detector at MP  401.3. With Leland Street alongside on the southwest side, and US 101 alongside at a higher level on the northeast side, the line reaches the junction with the Santa Paula Branch (once the original coast main line, now the Santa Paula Branch) at MP 403.2, the Montalvo wye, where the maximum speed is 70-60. The line curves to the west leg of the wye.  Both legs of the wye pass under US 101 which bridges overhead. The east leg of the wye curves sharply east to join the west leg, which heads directly eastward as it departs the main line.

The main line turns due west along the alignment of the Santa Paula line (the original route through this location), passing under Victoria Avenue, which bridges over the west junction and its signals. Just a little further west, the line turns west-northwest. Telephone Road crosses on a bridge. The line bridges over the Arundell flood control channel, next to a private grade crossing, and then passes underneath the dual US 101 bridges at the former SP station named “Lemon”. There are signals at MP 399.2 for the east end of 5,600 ft. south side Ventura siding (MP 398.2), where the Oxnard Block ends and the Ventura Block begins The line bridges over Seaward Avenue and Sanjon Road. There are signals at Ventura Junction (MP 397.3), where the maximum speed is 55 mph and the out-of-service Ventura Branch departs to the north, and the line turns due west and crosses over US 101 on a massive through truss bridge, passing under a freeway on-ramp, and crossing Chestnut Street at grade immediately to the west of the US 101 bridge. The line crosses Figueroa Street with Harbor Boulevard alongside to the south and the Ventura County Fairgrounds across the street to the south (sandwiched between the street and the Pacific Ocean).

West of the station, there is another grade crossing, the line crosses the Ventura River on a combination of structures including a through truss bridge and comes alongside the Pacific Ocean whose shore it will follow for quite some distance.