Carlsbad Village, CA (CBV)
Sited a few blocks east of the ocean, the station is shared with COASTER rail and Breeze buses. The city originally gained fame in the late 19th century for its artesian and mineral waters.
2775 State Street
Carlsbad, CA 92008
Annual Station Ridership (2016): 14,843
- Facility Ownership: North County Transit District (NCTD)
- Parking Lot Ownership: North County Transit District (NCTD)
- Platform Ownership: North County Transit District (NCTD)
- Track Ownership: North County Transit District (NCTD)
- Pacific Surfliner
For information about Amtrak fares and schedules, please call 1-800-USA-RAIL (1-800-872-7245).
Amtrak began service to the city of Carlsbad at the Carlsbad Village and Carlsbad Poinsettia COASTER stations on October 7, 2013. The six daily stops by Pacific Surfliner trains are made possible under an agreement between Amtrak, Caltrans and the North County Transit District (NCTD), which runs the COASTER commuter rail service.
Post-World War II, California experienced a population boom, and the resulting automobile congestion prompted communities statewide to actively explore alternative transportation options. It’s against this backdrop that COASTER commuter rail service was inaugurated in 1995, linking San Diego and Oceanside with another passenger rail option in addition to Amtrak. Today, the tracks between San Diego and Oceanside are owned by the NCTD, having been purchased from the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway (ATSF) in 1994; in addition to COASTER trains, the line also carries intercity and freight trains.
The Carlsbad Village station is located in downtown just a few blocks east of the ocean. Built of reddish-brown concrete masonry units, the building includes an open-air waiting area covered by a hipped roof supported by columns. A wide cross gable has bold lattice work at the gabled ends, and the peak of the roof is finished with decorative copper cresting. Marking the center of the structure is a clock tower where alternating bands of smooth and textured blocks are skillfully employed to decorative effect. The clock faces are also set off by bright turquoise accent tiles. In addition to commuter and Amtrak trains, the station is also served by Breeze bus routes.
The California coast was first explored by Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo who worked for the Kingdom of Castile. In 1542, he claimed the region for Spain, but no settlements were planned; sixty years later the coast was mapped by Sebastián Vizcaíno. Although known and claimed by the Spaniards for more than two hundred years, they did not establish settlements in California until the late eighteenth century when the Russian Empire began to take an interest in the area.
To secure the coast, King Carlos III authorized the creation of a chain of forts and missions to protect strategic sites that could be of future use to the Spanish Empire in North America. The first “presidio” or “fort” and mission complex was established at San Diego in 1769. Although the Franciscan friars who administered the missions passed through the area of present-day Carlsbad that same year, they did not return to establish a community until 1798.
Located four miles inland, the mission was named “San Luis Rey de Francia” after King Louis IX, a thirteenth century French king considered to be a Christian saint. The Franciscans worked toward the conversion of the region’s American Indians to Christianity, a stated goal of Spanish colonization. Each mission was supported by large tracts of land for agriculture and grazing worked by the friars and the converts. The lands attached to Mission San Luis Rey were extensive and fostered subsidiary communities modeled after the principle settlement.
The American Indians who were often forcibly settled at the mission were called “Luiseño” (“of Luis”) by the Spaniards, indicating that they were considered to be under San Luis Rey’s sphere of influence. For the most part, the Luiseño descended from the Shoshonean tribe and for centuries had inhabited the area from the coast to the mountains. Another American Indian group, the Kumeyaay, had also inhabited the coastal border region south of the Batiquitos Lagoon. The coast’s brackish lagoons fostered a diversity of flora and fauna used by the Kumeyaay.
San Luis Rey grew into one of the largest and wealthiest missions, and boasted a population of 3,000 within two decades of its founding. After Mexico gained independence from Spain in 1821, the missions were secularized and many of the buildings and land holdings were sold off to private owners, a process that occurred at San Luis Rey in the 1830s. Much of the land was reconfigured into large “ranchos” or ranches. They survived into the American period after California and a sizeable portion of the Southwest were ceded to the United States by Mexico as a result of the Mexican-American War of 1845-1848. While the land was still farmed, many of the former mission buildings fell into disrepair.
By the 1870s, Los Angeles and San Francisco dominated Californian shipping and railroading. The foremost railroad in the state was the Southern Pacific (SP), which ignored San Diego’s request for a rail line. Therefore, civic boosters lead by newspaper publisher Frank Kimball reached out to other railroads, eventually making a deal with the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railroad which was then laying track westward through New Mexico and Arizona. To reach San Diego, the ATSF started building a line under the subsidiary California Southern Railroad (CS) that was intended to reach Barstow to link with the SP line that ran to the Arizona border.
From 1880-1882, the CS line drove northward through coastal swamps and bogs and inland gullies and canyons, requiring numerous trestles and other infrastructure built by Chinese laborers. After years of building and lawsuits with the SP, the line reached Barstow in 1885. That same year, the first transcontinental train reached San Diego. The original route of the CS proved treacherous, as the portion through Temecula Canyon washed out in 1882 within a year of its opening. Although rebuilt, the line was soon replaced by the ATSF’s “Surf Line” which was laid through Orange County to meet the CS at Oceanside in 1888; it allowed a safer coastal link between San Diego and Los Angeles that avoided Temecula Canyon which washed out again in 1891 and was abandoned.
The railroad came through what is now present-day Carlsbad in 1881 after local rancho owner Robert Kelly granted a right-of-way through his property. Two years later, town founder John Frazier moved south from Los Angeles, purchasing 126 acres owned by original homesteader Lafayette Tunnison. Upon moving to the site, Frazier set about digging a well and luckily discovered plentiful artesian and mineral water 400 feet below the surface.
With the discovery of water, the trains began stopping to water the steam locomotives at what became known as “Frazier Station.” While the train paused, Frazier offered the cool, crisp water to passengers, and it gained a reputation for its clarity and supposed healing properties. The potential to capitalize on the water to draw health seekers attracted German immigrant Gerhard Schutte to the area. Schutte came to the United States in 1855, served in the Union Army during the Civil War and then established a business in Nebraska. Following his retirement in 1885, he headed west with his wife and nine children in the hope of establishing a farming community.
Sampling the waters, Schutte offered Frazier $40 an acre; he also purchased additional land from the ATSF, eventually amassing 400 acres along the coast between the Buena Vista and Agua Hedionda lagoons. Discovering that the waters had similarities to those at the famous Bohemian spa town of Karlsbad, Schutte called his new community “Carlsbad,” thereby taking advantage of positive associations and giving the town a touch of glamour. He then established the Carlsbad Land and Mineral Water Company with a friend from Nebraska, and it proceeded to plat the land and lay out tree-lined streets centered on the rail line. Schutte and other company officials erected their own houses in a variety of architectural styles meant to set a tone for future development.
To complement the growing town, whose population had ballooned to 300 by 1887, the ATSF built a one story wood combination depot, which still stands today a block south of the COASTER station. Designed by railroad architect Fred R. Perris, it was similar in appearance to other depots erected in Encinitas and Elsinore. Considered a fine example of Folk Victorian architecture, it features wood siding, hipped roof with stepped cresting and a cross gable whose faces display delicate stickwork. A wide overhang around the building protected passengers from inclement weather and the hot summer sun as they waited outside for the arrival of the train, while a trackside bay allowed the station master a view up and down the tracks. Combination depots such as Carlsbad included passenger and freight functions under one roof, with a central ticket office typically separating the two. The Carlsbad depot truly was the center of town, and over the years it also housed the post office and even a grocery store.
ATSF passenger service to Carlsbad ended in 1957, but the railroad continued to use the building as a freight depot for three more years. In 1964, it was given to the city and subsequently housed various offices. Following an award-winning 1987 restoration to mark the building’s centennial, it was listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Today, it is home to the Carlsbad Convention and Visitors Bureau.
To house visitors in search of the Carlsbad springs’ curative properties, Schutte’s development company financed the Carlsbad Hotel, but it opened just as an economic downturn set in over southern California, severely depressing the real estate market and halting the town’s growth. Compounded with drought in the 1890s, Carlsbad just managed to hold its ground, and would not see significant new development for three decades.
In 1918, a new group of investors formed the South Coast Land Company, buying up most of the remaining property in the area. By obtaining rights to the water of the San Luis Rey River and laying pipe to the coast, the company made irrigated farming possible, jumpstarting a prosperous period based on agriculture. Small farms around Carlsbad became known for products such as flowers, subtropical fruits and avocadoes. The latter became so popular in the 1920s that the town started holding a popular annual “Avocado Day” to expose Americans to the creamy green fruit and its many uses. On the site of the COASTER station stood a warehouse built by the Carlsbad Vegetable Growers Association, and the Santa Fe depot buzzed during harvest season with crates of fruits and flowers ready for shipment across the country. Mexican immigrants who came to Carlsbad to work in the fields settled in an area known as Barrio Carlos southeast of the depot; today, a museum traces their histories and traditions.
World War II brought the biggest change to the region since the founding of Carlsbad: the creation of Camp Pendleton. In 1942 the U.S. Marine Corps purchased Rancho Santa Margarita y Las Flores north of Oceanside and established a training camp. Named for Major General Joseph Henry Pendleton, a long-time Marine who long advocated for a major West Coast facility, it was dedicated by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt in September of that year.
Carlsbad remains popular with residents seeking a quieter lifestyle outside of San Diego and Los Angeles, and is known for its three lagoons: Buena Vista, Batiquitos and Aqua Hedionda. Noted for the variety of animals and plants that live in the waters and along the shores, they are also prime spots for bird-watching, with more than 200 types of birds known to frequent the area during the winter and summer migrations. Aqua Hedionda is also popular for boating, watersports and shore fishing.
Each May and November, people flock to the Carlsbad Village Faire, a one day event that includes food stands, kids’ activities, live music and more than 900 booths selling everything from antiques to clothing and plants. South of downtown, imaginative young architects and designers love Legoland, a 128 acre theme park devoted to the plastic building blocks. It includes rides, shows, interactive displays, and scale Lego models of famous world landmarks.
Amtrak does not provide ticketing or baggage services at the Carlsbad Village station. The Pacific Surfliner service is primarily financed through funds made available by the State of California, Department of Transportation, and is managed by the LOSSAN Joint Powers Authority.
Image courtesy of NCTD
- Accessible Platform
- Dedicated Parking