History of the Santa Maria Valley Railroad


July 1911 Santa Maria Valley Railroad incorporated by an English syndicate to haul oil from Roadamite

August 1911 Material arrives in Santa Barbara aboard the steam schooner "Yellowstone" transported via SP to Betteravia, construction begins

October 1911 First train to Santa Maria

December 1911 Completion of line to Roadamite

1913 Two additional locomotives purchased, original loco scrapped

1917 SP buys $91,000 worth of common stock. Sugar beet factory closes for the first time.

1921 SP sells some of its shares

1925 Railroad goes into receivership, sold at auction for $75,000 to Captain G. Allan Hancock

1926 Union Sugar Mill closes

1934 Union Sugar Mill reopens

1936 $7,000 profit posted

1940 The SMV Railroad bought the airbase branch from the Pacific Coast Railway (now defunct)

1941-2 Three additional locomotives acquired, Airbase branch, wartime passenger traffic

1948 First diesel purchased - GE 70 ton #10

1950 Tracks removed from Gates to Roadamite

1960s Crude oil leaves the railroad

1962 Last run of Number 21 (last steam on the SMVRR)

1965 G. Alan Hancock dies, his wife Marian Mullen Hancock becomes president, with Sue Sword, general manager

1970s Fresh vegetable hauling leaves the railroad

1986 Holly Sugar purchases Union Sugar, taking over operation at Betteravia

1993 Holly (Union) Sugar mill closes (for good)

1997 Union Sugar mill demolished

2000 Rosemary Trust takes over the railroad. Sue Sword retires as president of the SMV with 52 years "working on the railroad".

2002 Remaining right-of-way east of Highway 101 abandoned

2006 Purchased by the Coast Belle Rail Corp. from the descendants of G.A. Hancock family

2007 Trackage removed from Miller Street Yard. Friends of the SMVRR forms. Dinner excursions and speeder excursions begin.

September 2008 The SMVRR moves its offices from the downtown freight depot building to the site of the old Union Sugar mill in Betteravia

2013 Freight traffic increases enough to squeeze out all excursion activity

2015 Average train length nearly quadruples since 2007

July 2016 Headquarters relocates to Osburn Yard

October 2021 Sue Sword passes away, obituary