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In The Pipeline: The ghost of the Red Car trains

March 12, 2013|By Chris Epting

There were station stops at 23rd Street, 17th Street, 12 Street, Eighth Street, Fifth Street and of course at Main Street.

Beyond that the train stopped at First Street, at the trailer park. Gamewell (PCH and Beach Boulevard) and the Pacific Gun Club. Finishing up in H.B. along the coast were stops at "Nago" (at Magnolia Street and PCH) and finally at Melrose (located at Brookhurst). The trains then continued to Newport Beach.

There were two other lines in Huntington Beach that supported the Red Cars. The La Bolsa line, started at First Street and PCH, and featured four other stops: Westfall (Adams Avenue between Lake Street and Alabama Street), Newland Street (Yorktown Avenue between Ranch Lane and Huntington Street), Holly Sugar Plant (Garfield Avenue and Main) and Weibling (Ellis Avenue between Gothard and Huntington).

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Finally the Santa Ana/Huntington Beach line, which also started at First and PCH, traveled diagonally to Beach Boulevard and Indianapolis Avenue, wended east along Indianapolis to Bushard Street and then north along Bushard to Talbert Avenue before heading east to Costa Mesa (with too many H.B. stops to name in this space.)

So now you know at least the partial extent of Red Car traffic in Huntington Beach.

In addition to the track remnants you'll find on the beach, there are a couple of other telltale Red Car traces. One is a train crossing sign that once stood somewhere in the city of Huntington Beach. I noticed it at an old supply lot not long ago and actually purchased it. It's a bit cumbersome, and I'm still waiting for somebody with a truck to help me get it to my house.

Also, a stretch of "right of ways" as they were called, the actual paths the trains ran, still can be seen from the La Bolsa Line. The tracks may be gone, but narrow grass medians represent where the trains once creaked along. I photographed a portion of one for this column, from where the Westfall stop was on Adams near Lake.

To enjoy more Red Car history today you can visit the Red Car Museum in Seal Beach or actually ride an old Red Car in San Pedro, where they still maintain a 1.5-mile vintage trolley line.

Do you have memories of riding the Red Cars in Huntington Beach? I'd love to hear them for a future column.

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