The Montalvo Cutoff

West portal of tunnel No. 27.

Construction was started for the three tunnels built for the Southern Pacific's new Montalvo Cutoff between in 1898 and 1904. This was to be the new Coast Line connection from Ventura to Burbank. Nearly twenty miles of new mainline trackage was built across the San Fernando Valley between Chatsworth and the new Burbank Junction.

Seen in the left photo, the tunnel crew is begining the west end heading for tunnel #27. The right photo shows the tunnel finished and ready for the track laying gang.

Much of the cutting and grading between the tunnels had been completed before the tunnel work begun. With spur tracks from Chatsworth Park switched back and forth climbing onto the new right-of-ways construction site.

Larger rocks taken from the new right-of-way cuts were sent to San Pedro.

A mile of track was laid in 1898 into Chatsworth Park, a canyon surrounded by the craggy sandstone formations of the Santa Susana Mountain Range where the Burbank branch termated. At the right-of-way quarry above the park, sandstone formations were blasted into large of boulders to be used in the construction of the San Pedro Breakwater. Derricks loaded the giant rocks carefully onto flat cars. Heavily laden trains traveled the newly built Burbank branch connecting to the main line at Burbank heading southward through Los Angeles towards San Pedro.

Power house at west end of tunnel #26.

Jumbo and mucking in tunnel #26.

The top half of the tunnel rock.was removed first, then the lower part.

Deep inside the west heading of tunnel No. 26, tunnel men hit water.

Meeting of the headings in Tunnel #26. Of the three tunnels 26,27 and 28 bored through sandstone, the longest is Tunnel #26, being 7369 feet in length.

The tunnels and right-of-way took five years to complete and by 1904, trains were running on the new Coast Line trackage.

Chatsworth Park was used as the staging area for the east side of tunnel 26 and two shorter tunnels 27 and 28. An old wagon road built in 1861 over the Santa Susana Mountains to Simi Valley was used to send supplies to the western end of tunnel 26. The tunnels and right-of-way took five years to complete and by 1904, trains were running on the new Coast Line trackage.


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