Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Oceanside-Pacific Surfliner, southern stop for Metrolink and northern stop for COASTER

This is the last station in San Diego County and the first station of the COASTER.  The Oceanside station is part of a project called "Great American Stations" and is one of California's busiest Amtrak stations.

The Oceanside is an intermodal hub that was built in 1984 and allows easy transfers to commuter rail and intercity and local bus lines.  The station is located three blocks from the beach and south of downtown.  The complex sits perpendicular to the tracks and are small one-story buildings constructed of beige, textured concrete masonry units with floor-to-ceiling windows.  The structures are connected by a wide wooden pergola with bowed roof slats.  The entire structure is covered in plastic roofing that allows diffused sunlight to enter the walkway, as well as protecting travelers from the rain.  The pergola continues down and along the platform, which visually guides passengers to the trains.

During the early 2000's, Oceanside's downtown core experienced a period of growth with emphasis on mixed-use development to enliven the streets.  Timeshares and new hotels were constructed to broaden the city's tourism infrastructure.  In 2006, a 450-space parking garage opened next to the Transit Center to accommodate local commuters as well as visitors.  The Transit Center is envisioned to encourage residents to use commuter rail and other public transportation to get to work or to run routine errands.  The complex will include residential, retail, and office space within walking distance of the station.

Los Angeles and San Francisco dominated California shipping and railroading by the 1870's.  The foremost railroad during this time in California was the Southern Pacific(SP), which ignored San Diego's request for a rail line.  Civic boosters reached out to other railroads and eventually made a deal with the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railroad(ATSF), which was laying track westward through New Mexico and Arizona.  To reach San Diego, the ATSF started building a line under the subsidiary California Southern Railroad(CS) that was intended to reach Barstow and to link with the SP line that went to the Arizona border.

From 1880-1882, the CS line went northward through coastal seams and bogs and inland gullies and canyons that required numerous trestles and other infrastructure built by Chinese laborers.  The CS line finally reached Barstow in 1885.  That same year, the first transcontinental train reached San Diego.  The original route of the CS was treacherous, as the portion through Temecula Canyon washed out in 1882.  This line was rebuilt, but was replaced by the ATSF's "Surf Line" which was laid through Orange County to meet the CS at Oceanside in 1888.  This allowed a safer coastal link between San Diego and Los Angeles and avoided Temecula Canyon, which washed out again in 1891 and was abandoned.

The railroad mainly served inland farmers by providing them with access to new markets.  In the early 1880's, Andrew Jackson Myers, who was a shopkeeper, who lived in the small village that had grown up around the mission, applied for a homestead grant and received 160 acres south of Rancho Santa Margarita y Las Flores.  Myers subdivided and platted the land and the town of Oceanside was incorporated in 1888.  The origin of the name "Oceanside" is uncertain.  At the time, those living inland went "ocean side" to relax and cool down, but it has also been suggested that early land developers enticed Easterners to California by calling the community "Ocean Side."

The town grew quickly since it sat at the junction of the Surf Line and the old inland route  through Temecula Canyon.  Oceanside claimed three hotels and a pier that attracted vacationers from distant cities within a decade of incorporation.  Many of the visitors arrived by train, and as early as 1884, the ATSF stopped at a simple wooden platform that was soon replaced with an actual depot.  The depot was a one-story wood structure with a prominent hip-gambreal roof supported by curved brackets.  The layout was typical of the period.  Gingerbread millwork added whimsy and the picturesque valued by Victorian designers.

Growth was slow until the 1920's, which witnessed another land boom in California and much of the nation.  Historic 101 connected Oceanside to Los Angeles and San Diego and the downtown business district gained many new buildings, including a movie theater.  Sewers and street lights improved the quality of life for residents.  The six miles of sandy beaches attracted visitors such as early movie stars Mary Pickford and Douglas Fairbanks, who might have discovered the town while working in the area since northern San Diego's county's diverse landscapes were used as the backdrop to numbers films.

World War II brought the biggest change to the region since the founding of Oceanside and that was the creation of Camp Pendleton.  In 1942, the U.S. Marine Corps purchased Rancho Santa Margarita y Las Flores and established a training camp.  Camp Pendleton was named for Major General Joseph Henry Pendleton, who was a long-time Marine who had long advocated for a major West Coast facility.  Camp Pendleton was dedicated in September, 1942 by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt.

n 1946, Oceanside received a new depot that replaced the Victorian version which was torn down.  At a cost of $100,000 the ATSF built a one-story Art Moderne structure that sprawled along the tracks in the area north of the present Transit Center.  The entrance was marked by a segmented arch set within a projecting pavilion with an angular, stepped parapet that featured a panel displaying the town's name.  A marquee protected passengers from the elements.  The simplified lines of the white stucco walls were accented at the roofline by tiles in blue and white, which were standard colors of ATSF cross-in-a circle logo. The station was demolished in 1988 to make way for a new development in the are around the Transit Center.

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