Renovation Makes Railroad History Marker a Showpiece of Old Orcutt

“In 1872, a narrow-gauge horse-drawn tramway was constructed connecting San Luis Obispo to the Hartford Pier at Port San Luis to transfer passengers and freight from the Pacific Coast Steamships which ran between San Diego and San Francisco,”Orcutt Lion Marie Thompson told the crowd gathered on Clark Avenue for the re-dedication of the Pacific Railway Monument on October 19th in Old Orcutt.

“In 1882, the rail line extended to Santa Maria Valley and Orcutt,”she said. “n 1904, William Warren Orcutt, who worked for the Union Oil Company was asked to create a town site due to the influx of families coming to work for the oil company. The town of Orcutt was laid out due to this site of the Pacific Coast Railway siding that was in place.”

One hundred years later, in November of 1982, the Orcutt Lions Club dedicated a plaque at the original location of the Pacific Coast Railway right of way. It reads, in part: This railroad served as a major influence from 1876-1942 in the development of agriculture and commerce on California’ Central Coast.

Fast forward to 2019 and Orcutt Lions Club President Mike Carroll wanted to clean up the area around the plaque, which sits just to the left of the Old Town Quilt Shop. The area had become overgrown and the plaque barely visible.

“People had heard of it but didn’ really know where it was because it was so overgrown with weeds and such,”says Carroll. “nother thing, it is at ground level and hard to find. It was decided that we needed to draw more attention to it.”

What started as a general clean-up (an an effort to stop people from parking on top if the plaque!), turned into a full renovation. A railroad tie border was added to the concrete pad the plaque sits on, as were railroad tie plates and bedrock granite. A railroad crossing sign was installed in one corner, as was a map of the train’ original route. To top it all off, a small corrugated metal roof was added with decorative metalwork announcing it as “Orcutt Station.”

What was once a footnote of Orcutt history is now a showpiece.

“I’e seen passer-byes actually stop and take a look now,”says Carroll. “ll the work has paid off. It is a small way of letting everyone know a bit of Orcutt history.”

Rebecca Ross reporting