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MODEL PHOTOS BY THE AUTHOR


A caboose hop poses on a model of the Pacific Coast Railway’s bridge No. 5 over Avila Creek (above). The HO scale bridge was constructed for the San Luis Obispo Railroad Museum’s display in the former Southern Pacific freight house in San Luis Obispo,


California. The prototype for the model (below and page 49) was a wooden, through-truss design with iron truss rods. It carried the three-foot gauge PCRy. across Avila Creek. Note the long fill bank crossing the flood plain leading to the bridge (top, page 49).


Pacific Coast Railway bridge No. 5: Insights into making a unique model


This interesting structure served the railway until its demise/Andrew Merriam C


ertainly there were more fa- mous narrow gauge railroads, but the Pacific Coast Railway operating in San Luis Obispo and San- ta Barbara Counties of California had some iconic and dramatic scenes in its own right. Historically, the Pacific Ocean was a cheaper and faster con- nection from the central coast to the major California metropolitan areas in the 19th and early 20th centuries when compared to the roads of the time. In fact, the overland stage trip from San Luis Obispo to San Francisco took three to four bone-jarring days through rugged and often-times ban- dit-infested territory. The trip by steam ship could be completed in 24 hours. The trick was to get passengers and freight from the inland communities and farms to the coastal docks. That was where the Pacific Coast Railway came into play. Founded in 1873 (and ceasing opera- tions in 1941) the Pacific Coast Ry. uti- lized Avila Beach, the best harbor be- tween Los Angeles and San Francisco


48


in that era. With three piers, including the railroad-developed Harford Pier which served some 905 ships in 1909, the freight and passenger business for


COLLECTION OF ALBIN L. LEE: AVILA, CA; CIRCA 1930’S


this rural area had great potential. To get the railway to the sheltered portion of San Luis Bay, however, took some extra effort, including several cross-


SEPTEMBER 2012


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