Author: Linda

The San Clemente Railroad Is Still a Dream

The San Clemente Railroad Is Still a Dream

How an ‘ancient landslide’ keeps threatening a railroad, homes in San Clemente

This story was published in October 2010.

CASA LOS ALAMOS | The rail line that runs through San Clemente is a bit more than just a path connecting two communities with a lot of sun. Behind it is the real estate agent’s dream: houses that sit above and below the railway tracks so everyone in San Clemente has a little piece of heaven.

That’s not all the houses have.

An “ancient landslide” the city’s public works manager says is still working its way down the line toward the homes. But he says there’s no immediate danger to the property itself.

The city is considering taking down the homes or installing a cable vaulting system to protect them. The city also has been researching possible solutions, including installing culverts or a trestle bridge to raise the line, but hasn’t come to any decisions just yet.

The landslide is called a “ditch slide,” and it’s been there since as recently as 1871, according to the National Park Service.

It’s a natural hazard all through the region, from the Central Valley to the mountains of Death Valley. It is the reason the city in the mountains behind Camp Pendleton is trying to construct a new airport facility there. But the city is also trying to get the San Clemente railroad restored to its former glory.

“The entire city of San Clemente was built on the train tracks,” said Jennifer Brown, the city’s public works manager. “If it doesn’t exist, we’re going to lose the city.”

With all the possible solutions and research, Brown admits she is struggling with the dilemma.

The old railroad line is still a vital part of San Clemente’s economy. But the homes on their topside are some of the most desirable in the county.

They were built in the early 1900s

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