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Original train platform uncovered, plus sandy beaches for summer fun!

Construction of our new Coastal Rail Trail in Cardiff is well underway, and a surprising find by Encinitas resident and local train enthusiast Ron Dodge has added an exciting new dimension to the project.

Ron routinely visits the rail corridor construction site in Cardiff, and he recently saw and photographed an unearthed slab of concrete. He sent it to City Councilmember Tony Kranz, a fellow train buff, wondering if it came from the original 1913 Cardiff train depot.

The Encinitas train station was established in 1882, but Cardiff’s station didn’t come until almost 30 years later, and it only operated as a station for a short time. The depot was built in 1913, was closed in the 1920s and was demolished in 1943.

But apparently it wasn’t entirely destroyed. It looks like this excavated slab is indeed part of the platform of the original station.

This historic photo shows Cardiff in the early 1900s, with the original train station (left) and Mercantile Building (center) some of the only existing structures at that time. While clearing the way for the Coastal Rail Trail, it’s believed that part of the train station’s floor (circa 1913–1921) has been unearthed. Courtesy photo

After a series of collaborative meetings with SANDAG, we’ve agreed to preserve the slab in place, and divert the rail trail slightly to the east to avoid it. Other ideas were determined to be less desirable, including incorporating the slab into the rail trail itself or attempting to remove and display it elsewhere. The city will work with Cardiff 101, the Harbaugh Foundation, and other interested parties to highlight this important historic artifact.

From my perspective, the original train station’s close proximity to the Mercantile Building, which currently houses the Patagonia store, is a key component. Those buildings were the very first structures built in Cardiff. Using signs and historic photos, and recreating some of the original features such as a historic bench, we can tell the story of this bygone era — passengers disembarking at the Cardiff station right at that spot and spending the night in the Mercantile building, which was originally a hotel, post office and grocery store. What a cool way to incorporate a remnant of our community’s past into our future rail trail!

As the old proverb goes, “You don’t know where you’re going until you know where you’ve been.”

Sand Project Pours Fun Onto Our Beach

In the last month, the placement of nearly a half million cubic yards of sand on Cardiff State Beach has greatly enhanced and beautified this coastal treasure. The sand replenishment project was recognized by the American Shore and Beach Preservation Association, which designated Cardiff State Beach as one of the year’s top five restored beaches — the only West Coast beach to receive this award. 

What strikes me about the 20-year makeover of this beach from cobblestone to sand is that we’re creating usable, outdoor recreational space in an area that would otherwise be unusable. When there’s sand, families come to the beach to picnic, throw frisbees and lay in the sun, while kids build sandcastles and dogs cavort. When there are only rocks, the beach is nearly impassable and it certainly isn’t a desirable location for a beach towel.

This is the third and largest sand replenishment project since 1998. The project’s genesis was the need to remove sand from the San Elijo Lagoon, which had become clogged with too much sediment. The removed sand was transported underneath Highway 101 through a big pipe and onto Cardiff State Beach. Fletcher Cove in Solana Beach also received a major sand infusion.

Because the sand was originally deeply buried in the San Elijo Lagoon, it’s fine and pure, and doesn’t appear to have any signs of debris or disturbed sea life. 

This project simultaneously removes excess sand from the San Elijo Lagoon on the east side of the highway to improve lagoon tidal flushing, protects one of the lowest sections of Highway 101 infrastructure from the ocean’s destructive power, and creates a wonderful beach experience.    

The entire Lagoon Restoration effort is a $118 million project that involves many elements and is part of a larger 40-year “Build NCC (North Coast Corridor)” project that improves transportation, the environment and coastal access. The committed partnership between state agencies, namely Caltrans, SANDAG and State Parks, the cities of Encinitas and Solana Beach and major stakeholders such as the San Elijo Lagoon Conservancy, are responsible for the success. We have many dedicated civil servants at these organizations to thank for this project, which has been years in the making.

I hope everyone is enjoying our Encinitas paradise at the beach and elsewhere this summer. I sure am!

Mayor Catherine S. Blakespear can be reached at [email protected] with any questions or comments.