PART 2: THE
Not much remains of the Southern Pacific's
rail empire that once spanned most of the
This branch began its life as the Riverside
Line of the Pacific Electric Railway, the suburban rail transportation
system built beginning in the late 1880s and by default designing the
modern-day Southland. The
Riverside Line began at San Bernardino Station, on
In 1908 the Southern Pacific gained control of the Pacific Electric, but continued to run the PE as a separate entity up into the 1940s, when most of the PE routes in the area were discontinued due to competition from busses and automobiles.
Today, the Espee's San Bernardino Branch
is the portion of the PE's Riverside Line from
The branchline separates from the Yuma
Line at MP539.0. Eastbound
539.0 West End
Speed Limit: EB 10 MPH
965' AMSL; +0.8% EB
There is a discrepancy regarding the mileposts
used on this branch. For the
first 0.6 miles of this branch the mileposts seem to be in progress in
proper order. The signal control
From there to the
Originally, the Pacific Electric right-of-way
that was to become the Espee's
Sometime in the Forties or early Fifties, the crossing was removed and the through-track coupling of the two branches was severed. For the San Bernardino Branch, this meant a new connection to the SP main; this routing is the one that survives.
Today, access to the San Bernardino Branch is from the team track that is all that remains of the north side of Old Colton yard. Actual entrance to the spur is through the 5000 switch, about 0.2 miles east of the 539 Milepost.
Four-wheeled vehicles can motor along the
south side of the Freeway from
The 5000 switch marks the entry to the spur that is the San Bernardino Branch. The points on the switch face either east or west, depending on the reading of the Timetable.
The branchline turns northwest in a tight
curve toward the tunnel under the San Bernardino Freeway (Interstate 10). The tracks cross a small creek that cuts
a little wrinkle through the west end of the
(539.3) Interstate 10 Overpass
A curved, 230'-long tunnel leads the branch
under the elevated San Bernardino Freeway.
Vagrants sometimes sleep in the tunnel, sheltered from the sun,
the wind or other vagrants. There
is not enough room to safely navigate a four-wheeled vehicle through the
tunnel (unless, of course, it has flanged wheels on standard-gauge axles). Head west along the Yuma Line to
H Street Grade Crossing
The tracks cross
Valley Boulevard employs crossboards and
flashing lights for crossing protection.
(539.5) G Street Grade Crossing (SBD27B1)
The tracks continue just slightly east
of due north, parallel to the slightly off-kilter streets of
F Street Grade Crossing
East-facing 5005 Switch
The branch crosses
The tracks pass through the diverging rails
of the 5005 switch, once used to direct traffic either directly down to
Colton Yard, or allowing trains to travel through the middle of
At this point, you can notice the discrepancy
in Milepost numbering: the branch from this point on to San Bernardino
follows the original route; that route carried the tracks through the
5005 switch, continuing southwest along Colton Avenue, through the lumber
yard at 9th and H Street, across the northwest corner of the parking lot
of the hotel at Valley and 9th, thence down the middle of 9th to the SP
crossing a thousand feet south. This
path adds up to just about 0.37 miles, which corresponds with the "539.37"
number on the plate affixed to the control case at the
The newer route, which has been in service
for at least 40 years, leaves the mainline at MP539.0, goes up the north
lead in old
The crossing at
A short hedge of oleander bushes along
the south side of the tracks hides from view the railroad for the next
mile. A lightly-used adjunct
The branch used to continue along the private
right-of-way to the west on the north side of
539.4 E Street Grade Crossing
A single wig-wag guards the grade crossing.
539.6 C Street Grade Crossing (SBD27C1)
A lone wig-wag, mounted on a pole at the west side of the intersection, directs traffic.
539.8 TANNER Station
Back when this was a Pacific Electric Line, this was the site of the Mount Vernon Station.
Interstate 10 is about 0.6 miles south on Mount Vernon Avenue and the Santa Fe Railway San Bernardino Station is just over 2 miles north on Mount Vernon.
540.0 No Milepost Visible (SBD16C6)
1005' AMSL; +0.6% EB
540.1 Tracks curve to the north
Private Grade Crossing
The private grade crossing is a driveway
to a home off
A single wig-wag protects the grade crossing.
540.4 Bridge over Lytle Creek Flood Control Channel
The deep drain that passes well under the
right-of-way carries overflow from the
As the tracks pass from the city of
540.5 Private Grade Crossing (SBD16D6)
This paved crossing provides access to the AM radio facility along the north side of the right-of-way. There are only railroad crossing signs at this intersection.
540.7 I Street Grade Crossing (SBD16D5)
The grade crossing employs a pair of crossbucks as crossing protection.
Hillcrest Avenue is the paved road that runs west along the north side of the tracks from the I Street Crossing.
540.8 Interstate 215 Offramp Grade Crossing
Interstate 215 Underpass
This is one of the few freeway offramps I have ever seen that has such positive egress control, using gates, lights and bells in an attempt to slow traffic off-loading from the freeway. Fortunately, there are no hundred-car freights creeping along to delay freeway traffic.
A steel through-plate girder single-track bridge carries the branchline over the freeway.
540.9 H Street Grade Crossing
The railroad, at
541.0 No Milepost Visible
1020' AMSL; -0.7% EB
The crossing at
541.2 West-facing 5025 Spur
G Street Grade Crossing
East-facing 5030 Spur
East-facing 5050 Spur
The complex trackwork that provides service to these warehouses and businesses indicates that at least at one time there was quite a lot of traffic moving in and out, providing a few dollars of revenue. Note especially the curved diamond that allows the east-facing spurs to cross the west-facing spur, all because of the limited space available to play railroad.
541.3 Bridge over Lytle Creek
Private Grade Crossing
Tracks begin curve to north
The tracks cross over Lytle Creek on a through-plate-girder single-track steel bridge, climbing uphill away from the creek.
This is the traditional path for Lytle
Creek to take, at least the one that the water would prefer based upon
natural drainage in the area; the deep drain back at MP540.4 is deep for
the very reason that the water must be coaxed to take that route. Access to the tracks is available along
the south side from
Access to the right-of-way is available
541.7 Old Interchange Yard
The interchange yard allowed traffic from
the Santa Fe Redlands Branch to cross over to the Espee and vice-versa.
The yard extended from
Most of the yard structures were along the west side of the tracks, as was the yard itself. Note a group of loading ramps along an east-facing spur at the west side of the old yard; this track is still in service, often with some lumber cars spotted.
A west-facing unnumbered spur provides
a most-important function: the beer distributor on the east side of
542.0 No Milepost Visible
End Of Branch
1025' AMSL; +0.6% EB
The Redlands Branch is a still-active subdivision of the Santa Fe Railway, separating from the Santa Fe mainline at that railroad's own San Bernardino Station, about one mile northwest. In 1989, the Redlands Branch continues east all the way to the little community of Mentone, a distance of about eleven miles.
A wye allowed traffic from either direction
on the grade chart in the 1987 Timetable, but no rails make it this far. The station sat along the west side of
the tracks at