Guadalupe-Santa Maria, CA (GUA)
The station is close to Guadalupe-Nipomo Dunes Preserve, a designated National Natural Landmark, while agricultural areas near town are some of the most productive in California.
330 Guadalupe Street
Guadalupe, CA 93434
Annual Station Ridership (2016): 12,227
- Facility Ownership: Union Pacific Railroad
- Parking Lot Ownership: Union Pacific Railroad
- Platform Ownership: Union Pacific Railroad
- Track Ownership: Union Pacific Railroad
For information about Amtrak fares and schedules, please call 1-800-USA-RAIL (1-800-872-7245).
The San Diegan (succeeded by the Pacific Surfliner in 2000) began serving Guadalupe in July 1998; the present facility was constructed for the start of service, and it provides passengers with a well-lit, enclosed space located on one of the city’s two main streets, which is also a major coastal road. With a red barrel-tiled roof and white stone walls, the structure and its arbor-like platform canopies fit into the local Mission style of architecture. Victorian-styled lamps on the platform and at the station entrance complete the décor. Santa Maria Valley Railroad caboose No. 210 sits on the grounds close to the street and has been opened for visitors on National Train Day in the past.
Guadalupe sits close to a railroad junction at the western edge of the Santa Maria Valley, and the city of Santa Maria is a few miles distant. The original inhabitants were the Chumash Indians; however, with the missions that were built up and down the California coast bringing Europeans to the area, the Chumash succumbed to their foreign diseases, from which they had no immunity. Aside from the closest mission at La Purissima, in Lompoc, American settlers did not come to the valley until the days of the gold rush, shortly before California gained statehood in 1850. Agriculture then became a central component of the valley’s economy, which is still true today.
Between 1869 and 1874, four of the valley’s prominent settlers, Rudolph Cook, John Thornburg, Isaac Fesler, and Isaac Miller, farmed land that corners on today’s Broadway and Main Street in the city of Santa Maria. The four donated 40 acres of their properties to create Grangeville, and the town site map was recorded in 1875. The name of the town changed to Central City and then to Santa Maria in 1885—because mail was being sent by mistake to Central City, Colo.
In 1895, the Southern Pacific (SP) Railroad completed the 25-mile section from Guadalupe to San Luis Obispo, and by 1898 the SP completed its route from San Francisco to Los Angeles. As late as June, 1974, the “Colonial Yellow” Southern Pacific depot in Guadalupe still stood with a two-story central structure and two one-story wings.
The agricultural areas surrounding Santa Maria are some of the most productive in California, with primary crops including strawberries, wine grapes, celery, lettuce, peas, squash, cauliflower, spinach, broccoli, and beans. An increasing number of vineyards, wineries, and winemakers are coming to call the valley home as well.
While agriculture was and has remained a staple since its settlement, the Santa Maria Valley saw oil exploration beginning in 1888, leading to large-scale discoveries around the turn of the century. In 1901, William Orcutt urged his company, Union Oil, to move forward by leasing more than 70,000 acres of the valley in one year. By the end of 1903, Union Oil had 22 oil wells in production, and there were other smaller companies drilling as well. The large Orcutt oil field was struck in 1904, and reportedly produced one million barrels of oil in its first 100 days of operation. Faced with rapid expansion because of oil development, Santa Maria incorporated as a city in 1905. Oil discovery and development continued throughout the twentieth century, and in 1957 the 1,775 wells in the Santa Maria Valley produced more than $64 million.
Since 1911, the Santa Maria Valley Railroad has been the region’s main means of shipping both oil and agricultural products through Guadalupe. As with the next station south, Surf-Lompoc, the junction at Guadalupe provided a major shipping point for the valley, and the larger city, Santa Maria, was down a railroad spur a short distance.
Guadalupe, which has retained its small-town flavor and picturesque look, was the production site of one of Hollywood’s first blockbuster movies: Cecil B. DeMille filmed The Ten Commandments in the dunes that lie between the town and the ocean. In 1923, the SP assisted DeMille in bringing 2,500 people and 3,000 animals with their food and equipment 200 miles to Guadalupe. SP estimated that DeMille’s expenses ran from $2,000 to $4,000 per day; the railroad’s efficiency in managing this project was lauded in the press at the time. The production company built a set 720 feet long by 120 feet high, with 1 million pounds of statuary. Eventually, 3,500 actors worked on the site with 5,000 animals; it is also recorded that this required 7,500 sandwiches a day and 20,000 pounds of hay. All of this effort cost $1.4 million in 1923 dollars. And when it was over, DeMille had the set completely torn down and buried in the dunes: this was a business necessity, as in that day lesser production companies had been known to come along, use a set constructed by a major studio, and then beat their more elaborately produced film to market.
However, DeMille’s City of the Pharaohs only had to wait 60 years to be rediscovered after a storm that moved the covering dunes significantly. By 1997, director and screenwriter Peter Brosnan and archaeologist John Parker were excavating DeMille’s epic set. While this fragile site is off-limits to visitors at Nipomo Dunes, exhibits on it may be seen at the Nature Conservancy’s Dunes Discovery Center.
The Guadalupe-Nipomo Dunes Preserve is a nature-lover’s destination at the southern end of the 18-mile-long dune field that begins near Pismo Beach. The Preserve is located between the Pismo Dunes State Vehicle Recreation Area at the Grover Beach Amtrak station and Point Sal State Beach in northern Santa Barbara County. The dunes are designated as part of a National Natural Landmark by the U.S. Department of the Interior. The Preserve was closed in 1982 to fishing, camping, horses, dogs, and off-road vehicles, as it is now a wildlife refuge and protected environment for the California least tern and the western snowy plover, as well as 20 other endangered species. Human visitors may enjoy the mile-long trek over the Guadalupe Beach Bridge, which takes them through unspoilt wetlands to a secluded but public beach. Remediation activities at the nearby Unical oil fields have cleaned this beach substantially.
Amtrak does not provide ticketing or baggage services at the Guadalupe-Santa Maria 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.
- 28 Short Term Parking Spaces
- Accessible Platform
- Dedicated Parking
- Enclosed Waiting Area
- Long Term Parking Spaces
- Metrolink Kiosk
- Quik Trak Kiosk
- Wheelchair Lift