Santa Maria Valley Railroad

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Santa Maria Valley Railroad
Reporting markSMV
LocaleSanta Barbara County, California
Dates of operation1911 (1911)
Track gauge4 ft 8 12 in (1,435 mm) standard gauge
HeadquartersSanta Maria, California

The Santa Maria Valley Railroad (reporting mark SMV) is a 14.8 miles (23.8 km) shortline railroad that interchanges with the Union Pacific Railroad's (former Southern Pacific) Coast Line at Guadalupe, California. As of 2006, the Railroad is owned by the Coast Belle Rail Corporation.

In August 2016, the Friends of SMVRR hosted their annual BBQ at the new Transload facility at 1599 A st. in Santa Maria, signaling in the move from the Betteravia site.


The TRC handles 2,000 cars annually (1996 estimate). Commodities hauled include:

Prior traffic included:

Passenger Service[edit]

Special passenger service was only offered during World War II on the Air Base branch to transport military personnel to the Santa Maria Army Air Base for training. The Air Base branch was constructed in 1943. Excursions were offered for the first time on the SMVRR in November 2006, continuing into 2007.


The SMV was incorporated on July 14, 1911 as the Santa Maria Valley Railway[1] at Los Angeles, California with A. A. Dougherty listed as President.

The first 3.26 miles (5.25 km) of track, from the Southern Pacific connection at Guadalupe to Betteravia Junction, was actually built by the SP in August 1899 to get to a sugar mill. The SP leased the track to the SMV years later. From Betteravia the SMV built to Santa Maria and on to Roadamite. The SMV also had branches running from Stowell to Air Base, Suey to Rosemary Farms and Rex to Gates.

By 1925 the railway traffic had steeply declined and the railway went bankrupt. Captain George Allan Hancock [1], a principal of the Dominion Oil Company, purchased the railroad for $75,000 at a Sheriff's auction. The railroad was then reorganized as the Santa Maria Valley Railroad in 1926. Until 2006, the railroad was owned by Captain G. Allan Hancock's estate.

The original line ran for 23 miles (37 km), from Guadalupe to Roadamite. The track from Gates to Roadamite was abandoned in 1950.

The last run of No. 21, Captain Hancock's favorite steam locomotive, was in February 1962. Captain Hancock took the throttle one last time. Walt Disney was in the cab with Captain Hancock.

Baldwin 21 currently is undergoing restoration in Astoria, Oregon to be returned to excursion service.

The Union Sugar Beet plant closed in 1993, ending the beet train era.

In 1999 the G. Allan Hancock Estate gained full control of the SMV. The assets of the railroad were sold to Coast Belle Rail Corporation in 2006, ending an 81-year ownership by the Hancock family.

Other than 21, three other steam locomotives are in existence. 205 is nearing completion in the return to Service, also in Oregon, owned by George Lavacott. 100 is also in Oregon, but has not yet entered restoration. 1000 resides on Static Display in Griffith Park at Travel Town.


  • July 14, 1911 Santa Maria Valley Railway organized
  • August 23, 1911 grading commenced
  • September 28, 1911 laying rails commenced
  • March 15, 1912 construction completed
  • October 7, 1911 first train operated
  • 1926 Santa Maria Valley Railway reorganized as the Santa Maria Valley Railroad
  • 1950 track abandoned between Gates and Roadamite
  • 2006 Purchased by the Coast Belle Rail Corp. from the descendants of G.A. Hancock family
  • 2008 All track east of McClelland Street now vacated. Offices moved to Betteravia Industrial Park (at the site of the old sugar mill).


Route in 1931

Main Route[edit]

  • Guadalupe (interchange with UP - former SP) originally leased to SMV by SP.
  • Betteravia Junction
  • Carr
  • Pacer
  • Midco
  • Santa Maria

Air Base Branch (Santa Maria Army Air Base)[edit]

  • Santa Maria
  • Airbase (also with a spur to Pesco)

Betteravia Branch[edit]

Rosemary Branch (abandoned)[edit]

  • Santa Maria
  • Suey
  • Rosemary (Rosemary Farms)
  • Battles

Gates Branch (abandoned)[edit]

  • Rosemary (named after owner G. Allan Hancock's daughter)
  • Rex
  • Gates
  • Roadamite (Gates - Roadamite abandoned in 1950)

Motive Power[edit]

The present SMV motive power fleet consists of 4(as of March 2016) locomotives.

  • SMV #70 a GE 70-ton switcher built in January 1950 (Builder No. 30381) acquired for operation in November 1972 from Fort Dodge DM&S
  • SMV #80 a GE 70-ton switcher built in December 1953 (Builder No. 32207) acquired for parts for its fleet of 70-ton switchers in November 1972 from Fort Dodge DM&S
  • SMV #1801 and EMD GP9 built in June 1959 (Builder No. 25314) Built for Milwaukee Road as their #319

As of Friday, March 25, 2016, SMV started leasing BUGX #1322, a former Atchison Topeka & Santa Fe (AT&SF) EMD GP7(u), still with the original Blue and Gold Paint Scheme.

The SMV operated five 70 ton switchers and one U6B that were acquired between 1948-1959.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Alley, Dave (2019-05-28). "Santa Maria Valley Railroad on a roll and on track for a bright future". KEYT. Retrieved 2019-05-30.


External links[edit]