Santa Fe Orange County Lines

Fullerton to San Clemente

This route covers the following subdivisions:

Mileposts are from Barstow via the Santa Fe line through San Bernardino, Pasadena, and Los Angeles. This line (or, at least, the segment south of CP Maple) represents the Santa Fe’s second approach to San Diego, built to replace the Temecula Canyon line south from Highgrove after that line had been washed out once too often. The route from Los Angeles to Fullerton is part of the SF San Bernardino Subdivision (formerly Santa Fe second district) Fullerton line to San Bernardino.

At Fullerton Junction (MP 165.4), heading east/south from Los Angeles, the line to San Bernardino proceeds straight ahead, while that to San Diego turns sharply southward on a 3-degree (40 MPH) curve. The entire line south of Fullerton Jct. is run by Centralized Traffic Control, initially single track. Visible to the west is the former UP Anaheim Branch right of way. There is a spur into industry to the east, and a grade crossing at Orangethorpe Avenue, after which the lines passes under Route 91. With lineside industry on adjacent spurs, the line passes House 1 (MP 166.6), where the maximum speed is 79 mph for passenger trains and 55 mph for freights, and crosses La Palma Avenue and North Street at grade. (The original settlement at Anaheim is a square, tilted slightly from a true north-south east-west alignment, bounded by North Street, East Street, South Street and West Street, with its center defined by Anaheim Boulevard and Center Avenue. The railroad passes towards the eastern side of this square.) At one time, there were many citrus packing plants along the line in this area, all rail-served at the time of their peak operations. Heading south-southeast, the line crosses Sycamore Street at grade and then passes over Lincoln Avenue on a bridge. At Center Avenue and Atchison Street, the old Santa Fe Anaheim depot (MP 167.8) is on the west side of the tracks, on the 3,044 ft. siding there, where the maximum speed is 40 mph.

The line crosses Broadway, Santa Ana Street, South Street and Vermont Avenue at grade. There are signals just south of the latter. The line crosses Ball Road at grade and starts to angle more to the southeast. There is a bridge over Lewis Street followed by a grade crossing at Cerritos Avenue. At SP Crossing (MP 169.8), there are signals and a diamond crossing with the SP Tustin Branch, followed by a west to south connector from that branch line (replacing the SP’s formerly independent passage through Santa Ana that was purchased by Caltrans to widen the I-5 “Orange Crush” freeway). The line then crosses State College Boulevard at grade and bridges over Katella Avenue into the parking lot for Anaheim Stadium. The present-day Anaheim Stadium station (MP 170.5), where the maximum speed is 45 mph, is located in the stadium parking lot, and uses that lot (on the southwest side of the tracks) as its parking area. There is an Amtrak depot building between tracks and parking lot. The station is connected to the north track by a pedestrian underpass with stairs and ramps.

Beyond the station, the line passes under Route 57, over Douglas Road and then across the Santa Ana River on a multi-segment bridge. It crosses Eckhoff Street in Orange at grade, passes signals, crosses Main Street and Batavia Street at grade, passes a spur into a scrapyard to the east, and then turns due south on a 7-degree (40 MPH) curve at Olive Junction (MP 172.4), where the Olive subdivision trails in from the north (see below). From Fullerton Jct. to Olive Junction the line has only local freight service; south of Olive Junction, there are three to five daily Santa Fe tonnage trains to/from San Diego. Immediately south of the junction, the line crosses Walnut Avenue at grade, followed by Palm Avenue and then reaches the  6,250 ft. siding at Orange (MP 172.6), where the old Santa Fe depot is on the east side. The environment has now changed from one of lineside industry to one of residential buildings, both older and relatively new. On the south side of the station, the line crosses Chapman Avenue at grade.  Next are Almond Avenue and Palmyra Avenue grade crossings. There is a grade crossing at La Veta Avenue. The line passes beneath Route 22, crosses over Santiago Creek on an “S” curve and then crosses Fairhaven Avenue at grade. Running along the east side of Lincoln Avenue, Santa Ana, the single-track line crosses Santa Clara Avenue and Seventeenth Street at grade. South of the latter is the start of Two main Tracks, CTC, through Santa Ana, with maximum speed 60-55.

Still alongside Lincoln Avenue, the line crosses over I-5 on a through girder (with center girder) bridge, passes Intermediate Signals, and then crosses Santa Ana Boulevard at grade before entering the platforms of the Regional Transportation Center at Santa Ana (MP 175.2). This station houses several local agencies and serves as a station for Amtrak, Metrolink, and OCTA and regional bus services. The platform for the north track is a narrow island, only one train at a time can do station work here. Immediately south of the station, the former SP line diverges again, and the Santa Fe line turns east-southeast, crossing 4th Street at grade and then bridging over 1st Street. After crossing Chestnut Avenue at grade, the line turns southeast and crosses Grand Avenue at grade, followed by Lyon Street. Track speed is 90 MPH from here to San Juan Capistrano, protected by intermittent Automatic Train Stop (ATS) at signals, as read by shoes on all passenger locomotives and cab cars. There are inductors, the silver-painted metal “lumps” on the right side of the tracks, approaching all signals form here to San Diego.  There are Intermediate Signals between Lyon Street and McFadden Avenue (adjacent to the latter), followed by the McFadden Avenue grade crossing, Richey Street grade crossing, and the Route 55 bridge over the tracks.

East of the Route 55 bridge, the line enters Tustin and runs along the north side of Edinger Avenue, crossing Red Hill Avenue at grade. In the early 1970s, the line left suburbia and entered agricultural and partly rural areas south of Santa Ana. Today, this is an area of light industry and recent residential development and construction. However, there are still vast open areas in places, such as the US Marine Corps Air Station at Tustin, across Edinger Avenue from the tracks, where the two huge hangars are a landmark, and at the former El Toro Air Station adjacent to Irvine. By the 1990s, the whole area along the line through Irvine to San Juan Capistrano and San Clemente was covered in new suburban housing. As Edinger Avenue curves away south, the 2MT reduce to single track again at Tustin (MP 179.5), where there is a 1,800 ft. siding. In Irvine, the line crosses Peters Canyon Wash and then Harvard Avenue at grade. There are Intermediate Signals at Como (MP 180.1), grade crossings at Jeffrey Road and, after a stretch of open country, Sand Canyon Road. and Intermediate Signals. I-5 then crosses over the tracks, followed by the El Toro Marine Corps Air Station to the north.

There is a 5,982 ft. siding on the east side at Valencia (MP 182.9). El Toro Road crosses over the tracks on a bridge, with a 530 ft. siding at El Toro (MP 188.1). The line turns due south and passes under I-5 again, coming alongside Cabot Road, to the west of the line. There are bridges over the track at El Paseo and Oso Parkway, with Intermediate Signals at MP 190.x, south of which Cabot Road moves away from the track on the west, and Camino Capistrano comes alongside on the east. There is a 4,972 ft. siding at Galivan (MP 192.6), and a bridge over Oso Creek, with a large detention basin to the west of the tracks. Crown Valley Parkway bridges overhead, after which the line passes under the Paseo de Colinas bridge.  Also in this area, Route 73 bridges over the line on its way to join with I-5, which runs just a few yards to the east.

There is a private road crossing at Rancho Capistrano School, a small bridge over drainage and a 180-foot girder bridge over Trabuco Creek. Osos Road crosses at grade, as the maximum speed drops to 60-55. There is another grade crossing at La Zanja Street in San Juan Capistrano, site of the famous mission and swallow habitat, The Amtrak San Juan Capistrano station (MP 197.2) is just southwest of the mission. The station has only a single platform on the east side of the tracks. The Amtrak depot is now housed in some converted silver boxcars, because the Santa Fe depot, on the east/south side of the track, is now a restaurant. The road crossing at Verdugo Street is south of the station platform.

South of the station, Del Obispo Street crosses at grade, and the line crosses San Juan creek on a multi-span girder bridge. The track crosses over Avenida Aeropuerte at grade and then passes under Stonehill Drive. There is a 4,673 ft. siding at Serra (MP 199.8), after which the line curves to the southeast and passes under Route 1 and over Pacific Coast Highway at the place where Route 1 diverges from I-5 (just to the east) and joins PCH. The line comes alongside the Pacific Ocean here at Dana Point, and follows it closely, and in many cases intimately, to south of Del Mar in San Diego County. Pacific Coast Highway runs along the east side the line, at the foot of some rather fragile bluffs which regularly slide onto the road (and the line) in heavy rainstorms, with the beach just to the west, through Capistrano Beach, where a footbridge spans both street and railroad to reach the beach, followed by the Beach Road grade crossing into Poche County Beach Park. There are Intermediate Signals at Poche (MP 202.7), a private road crossing into the San Clemente Shores development, and the road to the east, which has become El Camino Real, turns away from the coast.

The track is literally in the surf zone for the next four miles. The ATSF has placed revetments of armor stone to prevent (most years) the waves from washing out the track. It is not unusual for the peaks of waves to splash onto trains during storms and/or neap tides. There has been a serious erosion of beach sand for the last few decades (caused by flood control dam capture of silt and better erosion control in urban areas) that has left only a narrow strip of beach sand for recreation use at some locations.

The town is mostly on the land at the top of the bluffs, with only two or three locations where roads come down to the beach. The first of these is at the San Clemente Pier, where Amtrak has its station (MP 204.8), where there is a 40 mph speed restriction. The next is at The Esplanade (at the top of the bluffs, which are rather low at this point), where there is a footbridge at “T” Street crossing over the track and descending to the beach below. The third is at Calafia Beach, where there is a pedestrian grade crossing between parking lot (at the base of the bluffs) and beach. To the south, the line running below the bluffs disappears from sight around San Mateo Point, which is right at the southern edge of San Clemente and Orange County-San Diego County border (MP 207.4). The property here was the “Western White House’ during the Nixon administration and is now a housing complex for the Marine Corps.

Placentia to Orange

This route covers the following subdivisions:

Mileposts are from zero at Atwood to 5.8 at Olive Junction. The line is single track, CTC. This whole line runs through an area in which older industries (such as packing houses) have been replaced by modern offices and light industrial buildings. There is a residential area on both sides of the line between the river and Fletcher Street, continuing on the east side as far as Taft Avenue. This line is part of the Santa Fe’s second approach to San Diego, built to replace the Temecula Canyon line. It carries ATSF through freights to San Diego and local switchers that serve the numerous industries along this line.

Departing the Santa Fe San Bernardino subdivision at Atwood, heading west, the line makes a three-degree curve (25 mph) to the south-southwest, crossing Jefferson Street at grade in the process. The line crosses Miraloma Avenue, Tustin Avenue and La Palma Avenue at grade, with maximum speed now 40 mph. There are signals at Olive (MP 2.4). The line then crosses over Route 91 and the Santa Ana River on multi-segment through girder steel bridges. Just south of the 91 freeway, west of the track, is a large industrial complex that handles scrap and finished steel and plastic pellet (covered hopper) transloading and storage. There are often used locomotives on the property that will be “parted out” and scrapped.

South of the Riverdale Avenue grade crossing, the line runs along the west side of Orange-Olive Road, crossing Lincoln Avenue, Fletcher Street and Meats Avenue at grade. The line crosses Glassell Street and the adjacent Taft Avenue, Katella Avenue and Collins Avenue at grade, angling due south between Katella and Collins. In this area the tracks of the former Pacific Electric Anaheim spur, which crosses the line at SP Crossing (MP 4.1), can be seen to the east of the main line. South of Collins, the line joins the Orange subdivision at Olive Junction (MP 5.8), with the main line heading south and a north to west wye track curving around to join the line coming from the west-northwest.