Old PE Rail Unearthed in Orange

From Matt McMenamin:

I am the Resident Engineer on a new parking structure project for the City of Orange in old town Orange, CA. We have started the clearing and grubbing work on the site. The environmental document stated the site was clear, but when we began excavating, we uncovered old PE freight tracks dating back to the Fruit Parking house days. I’m a bit of a railroad buff and love to find these types of things and thought of you guys.

Matt McMenamin Photos

Matt McMenamin Photo

Matt McMenamin Photo

Matt McMenamin Photo

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Showing 9 comments
  • Steve Crise

    The rail looks like old girder rail that was used in areas where the tracks were in the street or in pavement. I guess the previous contractor that cleared the property never thought anyone would discover that they forgot to excavate these tracks.

  • Mike Tuua-Burch

    Nicely done. Any plan for them beyond hauling them away. The historical society or train museum? Maybe they’re beyond salvage?

  • Robert Gaddie

    Based on the mark on the map it appears that you have excavated the house track for the depot. The depot was located on Lemon Street. During the 1960’s that small yard next to the depot was very active with cars of building material for the explosion in construction that was taking place in Orange County.

  • Mike

    The rails at the intersection of Chapman and Lemon were still partially visible until the late 80’s

  • Ruth Berge

    Perhaps the parking structure could include a small piece of track and a small rail car to transport people from their parked car to the entrance? Or at least some kind of reminder for the future- a mural or frame the track pieces on the wall under glass? Some of us appreciate the history of railroads in Southern California. It would be great to honor that little bit of history.

  • Virginia Link

    Cool! Love to see this stuff.

  • Brian Smith

    As I recall, that end of the house track served a roofing company that would receive a couple of boxcars a week loaded with cedar roofing shingles. At Maple Ave. there was a stub siding that served the Anaconda Wire & Cable plant, with the throw for the switch under a hinged steel cover in the middle of the street.

  • Robert Casares

    Thank you for posting the images.

    I live in Texas and am not familiar with the area and it’s history. Would you mind describing the “Fruit Parking House (Days) in greater detail?


  • Matt McMenamin

    In Southern California from the turn of the century to the 1960s, one of the major industries was citrus exports. Most of this was done by rail along the AT&SF Railway, Southern Pacific, Union Pacific and Pacific Electric railroads. Farmers sent their yields to fruit packing houses along the railroads for processing and packing. These were impressive structures for their time and employed many local families and immigrants. I recall some of these packing houses as a child. The City of Orange was in the center of the orchards and packing region. By the 1980’s, all the cool places to see and many of the railroads were disappearing, being replaced by large concrete business buildings and shopping centers. You can still find traces of the fruit packing industry – even the City of Orange preserved a couple of them not far from where we found the buried tracks. Stop by the City center for a coffee and walk through the historic district in Orange…still a great place to visit.

    Matt McMenamin

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