Historic Packing Houses and Other Industrial Structures in Southern California

Virtual Tour of Ventura County: Santa Susana

Copyright 2002, 2007 by James E. Lancaster, Ph.D.

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Santa Susana (SP)

Tom VanWormer took several photos in Santa Susana in January 1964. One photo shows a pair of weed covered tracks in front of the Tapo Citrus Association packing house on Alamo Street.  (See below for more on the Tapo Citrus Association.)

Another photo shows a mail crane along the main line with a packing house in the background

Wouldn't it be nice to see the Coast Mail's RPO snagging a sack of mail as it roars by? But back to the subject. Here's a somewhat blurred close-up look at the packing house in the rear of the previous scene (Photo). Tom VanWormer photos, used by permission.


The Tapo Citrus Association had a large complex on Alamo Street, some distance north of the Southern Pacific Coast Route mainline through Santa Susana.  This black and white aerial photo provided by John Huey shows the complex in the 1950s.  The view is from south to north. The SP siding shown in the first photo was along the north side of the building (for more on this track, see THE WYE TRACK, below).

Photo Source: Strathearn Museum, Simi Valley, CA

One of the Tapo Citrus Ass'n signs is preserved at the Stathearn Museum in Simi Valley, CA.

Jim Lancaster Photo.


The following article is from the Rancho Simi Trail Blazers Newsletter, June 2003 (Volume 9, Issue 6)

Did you ever wonder why there seems to be so much extra right-of-way just north of the railroad east of Tapo Canyon Road? In Simi Valley: A Journey Through Time, Ken Garges points out how the trains that entered Simi Valley before the Chatsworth Tunnel was completed in 1904 got turned around for the return trip to Oxnard. A "wye" track was constructed just north of the present day intersection of Los Angeles Avenue and Tapo Canyon Road. The "wye" track was just that - an inverted "Y" arrangement that was needed between 1900 and 1904.

The Southern Pacific Railroad arrived in Simi Valley in 1900. The only train service was from the west. A train that had just come up from Oxnard would stop at the Santa Susana Station, and then back up into the sweeping northbound curving track, using a switch of course, until it was north of another switch. After that switch was thrown, the train would then pull forward through the switch into a sweeping curve to the west through another switch with the main line. Now the train was turned around for the return trip to Oxnard.

Once the tunnel under Santa Susana Pass was completed in 1904 the wye track was no longer needed. The track was extended to the north to the Tapo Citrus Packing Plant, which was located slightly east and south of the City building that is located east of the Department of Motor Vehicles building and south of the County Court House on the Civic Center. That “drill track” crossed Tapo Canyon Road and made a sweeping curve to the west where it terminated at the Tapo Citrus Packing Plant. Once the packing plant had closed down, the track was abandoned and eventual removed. The “Wright Tract” (located north of the railroad between Winifred and Tapo Canyon Road) was built before the track was abandoned, so the southwestern corner of the subdivision reflects the curve of the tracks. The subdivision on the west side was built years after the track was abandoned, so the western side of the right of way was incorporated into that subdivision. [Note: See the Google satellite view, below.  The curve in Valley Fair St. resulted from the location of the east leg of the wye.] 

The City or County acquired the railroad right-of-way north of the main line since it would eventually be needed for the southern extension of Tapo Canyon Road. In those days the General Plan called for the eventual extension of Tapo Canyon Road south to the 101 and north to State Route 126. While Tapo Canyon Road has now been built between Cochran Street and Los Angeles Avenue, the plans for an interregional connection had been dropped.

The sweeping curve of the eastern portion of the wye track is still reflected in the development pattern of area. Historic inertia leaves patterns on the land.

Source: Google Maps

Page last updated 4/20/07

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