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California History Bits: The Ocean Shore Railroad (In Poetic Format)

Updated on January 29, 2018
DzyMsLizzy profile image

As a born-and-raised San Francisco native, Liz has long had a fascination with its history, and also that of the Greater Bay Area.

That Old Ocean Shore

Way back when, before my time, there roared a train.

Steam trains then, they were; belching great black gouts of smoke.

Big ideas, influential people dreamt it up:

A scenic ride: San Francisco to Santa Cruz and back.

And so they started laying tracks, out toward the southern end of town.

And through the City, they would roll, 'til

Beyond the City Line they chugged, and up the hill toward shore.

Cresting the hill, reached the bluff, ah: here their troubles began.

Sandy cliffs and dunes unfriendly to monster machines.

Mother Nature disapproved, and landslides were a plague.

But on they pushed, and persevered, building along the cliffs,

or blasting tunnels through the rock.

What a wild and scary ride!

One-way tracks, down and back: no room for two abreast.

To finish faster, they thought it smart to start both ends at once.

So from Santa Cruz they also built: to meet in the middle,

Echoing the grand meeting of the transcontinental tracks.

Alas, 'twas not to be: ne’er did they meet;

(20 miles bridged by omnibus.)

But still the travelers came, and rode to play by the sea.

Ocean Shore RR Engine #6


Landslides and earthquakes, all played their part.

'Til the ‘big one’ in 1906 buckled the tracks

and did it in.

Resurrection, they did try;

but the writing was already writ.

More cars, more roads, more weather woes.

By 19 and 12, the tracks ripped up, gone;

leaving only the roadbed scar.

Still it perches, here and there along cliffs,

and you can walk--where trains once ran.

Though sometimes in the still of night

in the dark of the moon when the fog creeps in

If you listen closely, still you can hear;

The echo

of that long ago

Last whistle.

© 2010 Liz Elias


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  • habee profile image

    Holle Abee 7 years ago from Georgia

    Hauntingly beautiful!

  • Micky Dee profile image

    Micky Dee 7 years ago

    I think I hear it! Nope! It's just the wind whipping through my head! Thank you DzyMsLizzy!