The Scottish influence on San Lorenzo Valley place names was nearing its end when Glen Arbor was founded as a residential subdivision in 1909.
Located midway between Felton and Ben Lomond on the east bank of the San Lorenzo River, the area had only seen limited development due to the absence of a bridge connecting it to the main county road. Early settlers such the Rountree family used the land primarily for ranching. The railroad passed through in 1885, but no stop was established in those early years.
J.W. Wright was a property developer who wanted to create in Glen Arbor a miniature “pleasure city.” Acclaim falls upon L.W. Coffee, however, for marketing the subdivision and driving sales.
Six hundred lots were parceled out and wealthy Bay Area residents were heavily solicited to establish summer homes in the Santa Cruz Mountains. Coffee enticed prospective buyers with free railroad excursions to the site and large barbecues for those who came.
An unofficial railroad stop was founded at the same time, located at the northwest corner of Fremont Avenue and Riverton Road.
Wright and Coffee spared no expense in erecting a large station structure for the community that included room for a community center and club house. A post office also briefly operated within the station. The Southern Pacific Railroad recognized the stop in June 1911 and it continued to serve the community for the next 19 years.
Even after 1909, a few small cattle ranches were still active in the area to the south of Glen Arbor. To support this industry, the railroad set up a 297-foot-long spur and a platform on the south side of Riverton Road. A freight office was even established for this stop, although it was only ever run by locals.
Glen Arbor Station shut its doors in 1930, when the Boulder Creek Branch became an infrequent freight-only line. The freight stop closed four years later, in January 1934, when the railroad abandoned the branch.
The community, however, continues to thrive. A bridge was eventually extended from the end of Riverton Road (renamed Glen Arbor Road) to Highway 9. The hundreds of seasonal cottages eventually evolved into permanent homes for locals and today many hundreds of Ben Lomond residents live in the Glen Arbor area.
- Derek Whaley is a local historian specializing in the railroading past of Santa Cruz County. For more information, visit his website at http://www.SantaCruzTrains.com.