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A journey up Railroad Avenue

September 16, 2004

JERRY PERSON

This week, the weather has been so hot here in Huntington Beach that

I thought I would take a little motor trip up Railroad Avenue to see

what is, what was and what might have been.

First, let me explain that, at one time, Lake Street was called

Railroad Avenue because railroad tracks ran its entire length from

Pacific Coast Highway (Ocean Ave.) to the Yorktown (Mansion Ave.)

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viaduct.

We'll get into our old Ford Model-T, give it a crank to get it

going and begin our look back.

Our first stop on our journey along Lake Street takes us to 420

Lake St. and to our "what had been" site. Today, there is no trace of

the building that had been the old Pacific Electric depot that had

graced this site, since it was moved there in 1938.

In July 1938, the old depot was a familiar sight at Main Street

and Pacific Coast Highway by our Huntington Pier. But it was blocking

the approach to our new pavilion and so, that year Mayor Marcus

McCallen and City Engineer Harry Overmyer met with Charles Bowen,

assistant to the president of the Pacific Electric Co., to find

another suitable location for the depot building.

Also on that tour were Pacific Electric's passenger traffic

manager, H.O. Marler; freight traffic manager William Knoche;

assistant engineer F.W. Spencer; and Manley Burley, the general

bridge foreman for the P.E.

The group looked at relocating the depot to Pacific Coast Highway

and 5th or 6th Street on the beach side, but in the end, it was

decided to move it to this Lake Street location. Bowen had been

familiar with this Lake Street location, since he was part of the

original crew that laid out the line between Huntington Beach and

Santa Ana.

I have seen pictures of the old depot as it crawled along PCH

toward its new home.

Our second stop on our journey still remains, and what better

place to beat the heat than at Brewster's Ice House at the corner of

6th and Lake streets.

This piece of Huntington Beach history has stood at this location

since 1945, when Virgil Brewster purchased the war surplus icehouse

from the military just after World War II ended.

Brewster had been a familiar sight for many local residents over

the years and for many, he was their town's iceman.

Born in 1912, Virgil first saw our town when his family arrived

here when he was 10 years old. His father Henry went to work in our

oil fields while he would attend our Central Elementary School. After

school, Virgil would sell newspapers to many of our oil workers.

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