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San Pedro via Dominguez Line

Route:
WThe San Pedro via Dominguez Line followed the same route as the Long Beach Line south through Watts and Compton to Dominguez Jct. From this point south it passed thru a rather sparsely settled area to Wilmington where a fair sized population was served by a rambling freight & passenger station.

WFrom Wilmington this line (double tracked) continued through an industrial district and over the Southern Pacific's bascule-type bridge into San Pedro. This line was interurban in character and encountered little congestion except on public streets in Los Angeles.

WThis line was also used by passenger trains performing PE's famous steamship service. The most famous of all being the Catalina Specials which at one time were the heaviest trains on the entire Pacific Electric system.

WFrom Dominguez Junction south, this line double tracked and entirely on private right-of-way, paralleled Alameda Street to just north of the Pacific Coast Highway, then veered in a straight line toward Wilmington. At East Wilmington the Long-Beach-San Pedro Line joined, and at Anaheim Boulevard the Catalina Pier "A" Line branched off. The Wilmington Station was reached at Avalon Boulevard. At "B" Street the West Basin Line branched off. This line continued to Pacific Dock where the Sothern Pacific's bascule-type bridge reduced the line to single track briefly; then it entered San Pedro over a long double-track trestle, regaining the West Basin Line at 1st Street and continued on to its terminus, the PE San Pedro Station at 5th Street. Electrified trackage continued all the way out to Outer Harbor, but no extensive passenger service was ever operated beyond the PE Station.

WThe West Basin Line followed a meandering course along "B" Street to Figueroa Street, then veered its two tracks slightly to the left onto private way alongside Wilmington-San Pedro Road which it followed (joining the San Pedro via Torrance Line near Channel Street) to Gaffey Street, then via a twisting route to 1st Street and a junction with the San Pedro via Domingues Line.

Mileages:
Los Angeles0.00
Watts7.38
Compton10.91
Dominguez Junction13.32
Flint Junction19.11
Wilmington20.13
Wilmington Road22.84
San Pedro24.43
Outer Harbor25.39


History:
WConstruction of this San Pedro Line got under way in 1902 when PE on July 2nd began engineering surveys and started acquiring the right-of-way. On January 12, 1904, the project was turned over to the LAIU subsequently carried through the construction of this line and it was opened as follows: to Wilmington, November 24, 1904; to San Pedro, July 5, 1905.

WFrom the intersection of the private way and Wilmington-San Pedro Road (Avenue B, Wilmington), no fewer than three routes existed:

  1. the original route, which was on a mile-long trestle over marsh land;
  2. the route via the SP drawbridge, built in 1911;
  3. the West Basin Line, built by the PE Land Company in 1910.
WOf these, the direct route via the drawbridge was by far the most important and more used; only during World War II (when the bridge had to remain open) and after its removal in 1955 was the West Basin Line route used by this line.

WThe San Pedro Line survived PE and MCL ownership only to fall victim to LAMTA; due to a great decrease in partronage the LAMTA ordered the rail service to give way to buses. The conversion took place on December 7, 1958.


Equipment:
WSame as Long Beach Line except that it was opened by the 250 Class and used 500 Class cars during World War I to a limited extent.


Track:
WFor that portion of this line from 6th & Main Station to Dominguez Junction, see the Long Beach Line.

As of 1939, track between Dominguez Junction and San Pedro Station was as follows:
RailTiesBalast
Dominguez to Anaheim Street:90lb.RR
Anaheim Street to "B" Street:60RS
"B" Street to mile south:90RR
mile so. of B to San Pedro:60RS
(R: Redwood; R: Rock; S: Sand)

WFrom Dominguez Jct. to San Pedro(5th Street) this line was double-tracked. Via the Bascule bridge this line enjoyed 100% private way; via the West Basin Line it ran on "B" Street on double track, 128-lb. girder rail for a distance of 1.00 miles, then via double track private way (60lb. rail) to a junction with the Bascule Bridge Line near First Street in San Pedro.


Electrical Facilities:
WIn addition to the substations used by the Long Beach Line between 6th & Main and Dominguez Jct., the San Pedro Line had its own substation, as follows:
No. 44:Wilmington
No. 15:San Pedro
No. II 43:Wilmington No. 2 (1943)


Car Storage:
WCars were stored at locations in San Pedro: First Street and 5th Street, with a combined capacity of 75 cars. In addition, storage space was provided for additional cars at the 7th Street Surface Tracks in Los Angeles. During World War II, cars were also stored on the Outer Harbor Line at approximately 17th Street.

WEquipment servicing and repairs of a minor nature were made at First Street until 1950; afterwhich, at Torrance, 6th & Main, and finally at Fairbanks(Long Beach).


Harbor Belt Line Railroad:
WThis line was an important freight line since its earliest days. It traditionally ranked first in revenue and in cars handled (although) the El Segundo's oil traffic via the Southern District's Watts Cut-off accounted for heavier tonnages and slightly greater revenue per mile of line).

WFreight traffic to and from the Harbor was of a general nature such as canned goods, coke, sand, sulphur, lumber, wire , iron and steel, citrus fruits, bananas, and a great variety of manufactured products. For a number of years PE was the dominant carier at the Harbor, but its 51% of total carloads handled at the Harbor in 1924 dwindled to 26% as of 1938. The pre-eminent cause was the establishment of the Harbor Belt Line Railroad.

WPrior to 1929 the extensive city-owned trackage on and in the vicinity of the municipal docks and wharves on the west side of the Harbor was operated and maintained by PE under an operating agreement with the city of Los Angeles. The Union Pacific handled the east side of the Harbor under a similar agreement.

WIn order to provide equal access to the Harbor for all railroads (the Santa Fe had been frozen out) it was decided in 1929 to form a joint agency which would operate the pooled trackage of the city and railroads as a single unit and which organization should be separate and distinct from those of the four railroads (PE, SP, UP and AT&SF). Thus came about the Harbor Belt Line Railroad; it started operating on June 1, 1929; the net result has been the rise of the Santa Fe as a power at the port, mostly at the expense of PE.

WIn addition to traffic to and from the Harbor, other major originating points for freight on the San Pedro Line are Watson, Dominguez Jct., and Compton. Both Watson and Dominguez are important oil centers, while the Compton traffic is of a general nature.


Dolores Yard:
WDue to the heavy increase in traffic to the Harbor as a result of World War II, PE in 1943 constructed a new freight yard at Dolores (Carson Street). This new yard was used primarily to store freight awaiting ship space overseas, and was usually quite full of war freight. As was typical of such war babies, Dolores Yard lost most of its importance after V-J Day.


Passengers:W(Fare & Transfer)
YearPassengersMilesRevenue
19131,639,823790,170$315,024
19161,774,174853,903$339,571
19183,061,0281,470,879$529,227
19195,635,4162,575,783$982,991
19203,678,6671,754,212$806,574
19223,381,1421,626,422$1,020,643
19243,739,6521,681,835$1,043,302
19263,133,6921,455,293$872,753
19282,835,5191,377,906$776,315
19302,013,245946,017$483,841
19321,413,047763,484$328,597
19341,173,441686,591$241,014
19361,406,394722,947$270,808
19381,293,506709,201$256,952
19401,222,325658,932$215,592
19422,988,8911,314,762$656,872
19447,759,5832,302,429$1,724,877
19458,581,2652,477,686$1,881,542
19466,602,3551,935,275$1,437,898
1948(Figures not available)
19502,824,597829,741$636,382
19522,507,286743.329$617,669
19541,886,052674,368$576,108
19561,482,855626,906$534,557
19581,002,251522,013$398,565
*Best Year(1958 figures start 1/14/58 upon resumption of service after stike and go to 11/30/58 only: line abandoned 12/8/58.)


San Pedro Station:
WOn June 27, 1919, a work order was approved calling for considerable change in PE's San Pedro terminus. This was made necessary by the opening of Harbor Boulevard which would be on a new official grade and which would replace Front Street, on which PE tracks were laid. This improvement was a part of the general regrading of much of San Pedro's waterfront, which saw the high bluffs cut down and an entirely new look given to the business section.

In 1919 and 1920 the following work was accomplished.

  1. 3785' of new passenger & freight storage tracks constructed on private way near Fifth Street and San Pedro.
  2. Abandon 3241' of old main line between fourth and Eighth Streets.
  3. Remove 1274' of SP trackage.
  4. Relocate SP's freight station to clear grounds for PE's new trackage.
  5. Abandon PE's concrete retaining wall and pipe railing along westerly line of PE right of way at easterly end of Front Street between Fifth and Sixth Streets.
  6. Construct new passenger section, 120' X 29'; freight section, 70' x 20'. Building was of brick with stucco walls.
Total cost of above improvements was slightly more than $60,000.

Strauss Bascule Bridge:
WSP and later PE reached San Pedro from Wilmington via long pile trestles over the tidelands which then comprised today's West Basin. These trestles, of course, precluded all use of the West Basin Line by vessels and were much maligned by those interested in devloping the West Basin. In mid-1907 the War Department ordered the construction of drawbridges of the double leaf bascule type to replace the trestles. The railroads held a conference on the matter in San Pedro on September 19th of that year. PE immediately asked for a franchise to extend its tracks around the bay but action on the application was deferred (See Long Beach-San Pedro Line). Things were at a standstill for several years as far as the bridges were concerned, but in 1911 the matter was solved by building one of the largest single span drawbridges ever constructed up to that time.

WOn July 22nd, 1911, newspapers carried front page stories to the effect that SP would construct a huge bridge over the narrow channel connecting the Inner Harbor and the West Basin. Construction actually began shortly thereafter.

WThe new bridge was impressive; it was 187 feet long and afforded a clear channel of 185 feet for ships. It was of the type known as a "Strauss" trunnion, and lifted on pin or hinge. Electric motors lifted the ponderous span in fifty seconds, and a latch, also operated by a motor, held it in position when down. The King Bridge Company of Cleveland built the superstructure, which was installed by the SP's Engineering Dept. The foundations were equally impressive; tests showed nothing but sand for a hundred feet down, so three cofferdams had to be built; they were bound with concrete and sunk to a depth of 44 feet, after which piles were driven to a depth of 80 feet. Water was then pumped out of the cofferdams and the interiors concreted. Concrete piers were then constructed to a height of ten feet above low tide. There was a total of 3,500 cubic yards of concrete in the three piers, the largest of which was 22' by 55'. The new bridge was sufficiently wide to accommodate two tracks.

WBy the time the new bridge was finished, the Great Merger had taken place; PE and SP had entered into their alliance, hence it was but natural that SP should lease the new bridge to PE for joint operation. The lease took effect on March 15, 1915, and called for payments by PE to SP of a monthly rental amounting to 1/12 of 2.5% of the cost of the bridge, 1/12 of the cost for depreciation, together with half the monthly maintenance and operating expenses of the bridge, its trestle approaches and connecting tracks. Only the westerly track was electrified; hence PE had but a single track line across the bridge; a serious bottleneck on numerous occassions. Total length of leased track over the bridge was 0.403 miles.

WFrom February 15, 1942 until February 28, 1947 PE trains were rerouted via the West Basin Line as the Coast Guard ordered the bascule bridge to remain open as a wartime safety measure.

WOn September 28, 1955 PE trains left the drawbridge route permanently; damaged by a veering ship, the bridge was declared unsafe and was removed shortly thereafter.


Wingfoot District:
WThis branch line left the Four Tracks at Gage Avenue (just south of Slauson Junction) and proceeded in a westerly direction paralleling Gage Avenue to Central Avenue where the PE Wingfoot freight was located. The line served as a connection between the Southern District and the important manufacturing area which the Goodyear plant was the preeminent factory. The line was built as a single track about 0.75 miles long. Operation of this line was unique in that PE and Santa Fe alternated by years in switching the Wingfoot area. This line was built by W
Ascot Park Race Track was a great public attraction in its day; not only PE but LARy and WAfter the end came to racing, the area became industrial in nature; LARy gained new riders as subdivisions clustered about factories, but PE preferred to concentrate on freight.



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