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Help Save the Coronado Belt Line Right-of-Way

By Alexander D. Bevil

Efforts are underway to save the surviving segment of the historic Coronado Railroad Belt Line from National City to Imperial Beach. An important step toward preservation is having it placed on the California and National Registers of Historic Places.

One of the earliest independent, interurban, short steam rail lines in San Diego County, its original 20.3-mile route provided direct steam freight and limited passenger rail service between the resort community of Coronado and downtown San Diego's business district.

During its period of historic significance from 1888 to 1950, the Coronado Railroad Belt Line was a major contributor to the economic development of Coronado, as well as to other suburban communities along its right-of-way, including National City, Chula Vista, and Imperial Beach.

Through its various corporate lives as the Coronado Railroad, the San Diego Southern, the San Diego & Southeastern, the San Diego & Arizona, and finally the SD & Arizona Eastern Railway, the line provided the means for the transport of bulk agricultural and industrial raw materials from the region to San Diego's harbor and transcontinental rail links.

A section of the line between National City and Chula Vista also shared service with an electric traction, interurban passenger line. The forerunner of today's San Diego Trolley, lthe line served as part of an electric trolley commuter route between downtown San Diego and Otay. The line was also a critical hauler of strategic war materiel during both World Wars.

Despite continued use during the postwar years, the line north of Imperial Beach along the Strand to Coronado, was abandoned and the tracks removed. In limited use today, the surviving 7.5-mile of right-of-way from National City south to Imperial Beach continues to retain its historical significance.

Significant for its association with one of San Diego's key, locally owned and operated interurban short lines, the 113- year old right-of-way, including its roadbed, rails, ties, switches, and trestles, represents the type, period and method of late 19th and early 20th century railroad construction techniques and materials.

Once nominated, the next step will be to restore the line for possible use to run tourist trains between National City and Imperial Beach, and perhaps points north.

You can help by sending your tax-deductible donations to:
Save Our Heritage Organisation
Attn: Coronado Railroad Belt Line
2476 San Diego Avenue
San Diego, CA 92163-1429
(619) 297-9327

2001 - Volume 32, Issue 2

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2476 San Diego Avenue · San Diego CA 92110 · Phone (619) 297-9327
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