In the late 1800’s the Santa Ana & Newport Railroad was operating only freight trains between Santa Ana and the bluffs above Newport Beach. Freight was lowered to the beach by gravity and lifted by a cable attached to a steam “donkey” engine up the steep grade. In 1891 the SA&N constructed a new roadbed to the beachfront and built a long wharf to serve the commercial and passenger steamship lines running between San Diego and San Francisco. Once rails were laid on the wharf, the citizens and the local press of Orange County immediately pressed the railroad to run passenger trains to Newport Beach, especially excursion trains during the hot summer months.

     

    The SA&N purchased used passenger cars reportedly from the San Diego and Coronado Beach Railway. For motive power 0-4-0 and 0-4-0T steam engines were purchased from the defunct Los Angeles Pacific Railroad. The first passenger revenue run was made in July of 1891 with several passengers having made the connection with the Santa Fe railroad in Santa Ana for the trip to the beach. As Newport Beach had no potable water until after the turn of the century, barrels of water had to be hauled each day to serve both the passengers and the railroad workers. 

 

     Not long after passenger operations commenced, a depot was built to serve not only beach goers, but those wishing to connect with the ocean going steamships as well. In 1899 the SA&N was taken over by the Southern Pacific Railroad. The depot was removed from the wharf in 1923 and converted to a grocery store.

     

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Postcard - Southern Pacific Railroad’s Newport Beach Wharf Depot

 

 

Southern Pacific Railroad’s Newport Beach Wharf Depot