Swanton memories up in smoke

Jobst Brandt checks out the roundhouse in 1986.

Among the many losses suffered in the CZU Complex fire is the Swanton Pacific Railroad. It was founded by Al Smith, owner of Orchard Supply Hardware stores back in the day.

Now owned by CalPoly, 1/3 size steam trains used to run around the property just north of Davenport. Now they’re burned, and so is the roundhouse. Some structures survived and it’s hoped the damaged trains can be restored.

Here’s a diesel locomotive.

I used to stop by here with Jobst Brandt on our long bike rides to Santa Cruz. He had a passion for trains and never passed up a chance to check out the facility.

Swanton Road became a familiar haunt back in the 1980s for Jobst and friends as they took Last Chance Road to the coast to attend the annual Corn Roast, located just off Swanton Road.

Last Chance Road is a memory, turned into a trail about 18 years ago. It’s still rideable though. One hot summer day after the Corn Roast we jumped into East Waddell Creek to cool off before continuing on to Big Basin Redwoods State Park.

A handful of people lived off the dirt road, but we never had an issue, except once. We came to an open area where some people were undergoing fire training at a building. We tried to sneak by without being seen, but they noticed us and yelled. Fortunately they decided to leave us alone.

I last rode by here in 2015. Those were the days.

Jobst confers with a worker inside the roundhouse in 2002.

One Response to “Swanton memories up in smoke”

  1. AlphaRoaming Says:

    The 2nd photo is a diesel engine. The historic steam trains, with the big cylindrical boilers were a total loss

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