Lompoc-Surf, CA (LPS)
Located on the grounds of Vandenberg Air Force Base northwest of Lompoc, the station is adjacent to Surf Beach, which serves as an annual nesting ground for Snowy Plovers.
Ocean Avenue and Park Road
Surf, CA 93437
Annual Station Ridership (2016): 7,921
- Facility Ownership: Union Pacific Railroad
- Parking Lot Ownership: Union Pacific Railroad
- Platform Ownership: Union Pacific Railroad
- Track Ownership: Union Pacific Railroad
- Pacific Surfliner
For information about Amtrak fares and schedules, please call 1-800-USA-RAIL (1-800-872-7245).
The Lompoc-Surf station consists of two platforms with a concrete shelter, constructed in 2000. This C-shaped flat-topped structure with wide eaves provides a bench for the waiting passengers and is detailed with glass blocks in the upper half of its back wall and the protective ends. The stop sits close to the water’s edge, with a wide view of the Pacific Ocean and an open, uninhabited beach. The station lies ten miles to the north and west from the city of Lompoc.
European occupation of this portion of the California central coast began with the founding of Misión La Purísima Concepción de Maria Santísima on December 18, 1787 by Franciscan Father Presidente Fermín de Lasuén; it became the 11th of the 21 Franciscan missions in California. During the mission’s early years, the church baptized several thousand of the Chumash natives living in the area, and over 100 small and large adobe buildings were raised; a water system developed; and crops and livestock cultivated extensively. However, in 1812, during a series of earthquakes, the mission was largely destroyed on December 21; drenching rains subsequently completed its ruination.
The Padres rebuilt four miles to the northwest and the mission again thrived. By 1933 this second mission had fallen into ruin and changed hands several times and endup up as the property of Union Oil, which finally gave it into public ownership. A complete restoration of the mission complex to its 1820 appearance began in 1934 through the efforts of the county of Santa Barbara, the State of California, the National Park Service, and the Civilian Conservation Corps. Today, surrounded by 1,928 acres of La Purisima Mission State Historical Park, the mission is well-preserved and interpreted, including cultivating authentic crops and livestock, and open to the public.
In 1837, the Mexican government gathered the lands in the Lompoc valley—a Chumash word meaning “land of many lakes”—into a land grant that was acquired by Thomas and Alber Diblee and William Wells Hollister after California became part of the United States. Hollister sold his portion for $500,000 in 1874 to the Lompoc Valley Land Company, and this company undertook to settle the area as a temperance colony. The city was incorporated on August 13, 1888.
The Southern Pacific Railroad reached Surf in 1896, and a small town grew up at the Lompoc railroad junction by the ocean, with a spur leading off to Lompoc, completed in 1899, leading from the main line that reached up to San Francisco. In 1900, in anticipation of the Coast Line’s opening, SP built a combination station according to Plan 22—a substantial wooden building—at Surf, and the station saw a great deal of traffic during World War II, with soldiers going to and from nearby Camp Cooke. At its peak, Surf’s population reached 40, working in support of the railroad, and it had its own post office and general store, as well as the station and the telegraph office. Plans for a resort development didn’t come to fruition, and as trains modernized, the town shrank until only the telegraph station was left, a place to send train orders which were handed to engineers who slowed down enough to catch them by hand. The last train orders came through the Surf station in 1985; there is no evidence of that town now, beyond the Amtrak station bearing its name.
Early Lompoc largely based its living on agriculture, with beans and sweet peas being major crops at the turn of the 20th century, as well as mustard—the region being the “mustard capital” of the United States up until 1920. Mining and milling of diatomaceous earth as well as white limestone were also local products. However, Lompoc is well-remembered for its vast fields of flowers grown for seed. During the spring and summer months, fragrant carpets of sweet peas, nasturtiums, bachelor buttons, stock, delphinium, larkspur, marigolds, and many other spread color for miles, and the city celebrated with a Flower Festival each June. Up until the 1980s, well-known companies such as Burpee, Denholm and Bolger Seed were major growers in the region; less expensive South American growers made the farms less profitable, and many of these closed. Today, some flowers are still grown for cutting, and a great variety of vegetables have replaced flower seed crops.
In 1941, the U.S. Army acquired between 92,000 and 94,000 acres outside of Lompoc and opened Camp Cooke as a both a Pacific-facing defense and training unit. During World War II, a number of armored and infantry divisions and regiments trained at Camp Cooke; more than 400 separate and distinct outfits passed through the camp. During the war, German and Italian prisoners of war were quartered at Camp Cook, and helped to alleviate shortages in the local labor market brought on by the war, working in mechanical and civil engineering, clerical services, laundry, and agricultural jobs in the community. A maximum security Branch Disciplinary Barracks were also constructed on the post in 1946, which was turned over to the U.S. Bureau of Prisons in 1959, and is now a minimum-security men’s prison.
The army closed Camp Cooke in 1953; however, the Air Force, in need of a missile test range and training site, acquired the coastal location in 1956. The site would allow missiles to be launched into the Pacific without population overflights, and would allow satellites to be launched directly into polar orbit without overflying any land masses. In 1958, Cooke Air Force Base (AFB) was renamed Vandenberg AFB in honor of the late General Hoyt S. Vandenberg, the Air Force’s second Chief of Staff.
Since 1958, Vandenberg has seen numerous missile and satellite launches, including the first intercontinental ballistic missile, the Atlas, in 1959. The most ambitious programs at the base have been the Manned Orbiting Laboratory and the Space Shuttle programs. In 1979, the Air Force Systems Command established the Western Space and Missile Center at Vandenberg, and in 1993, it became the headquarters of the Fourteenth Air Force and the new home of the 30th Space Wing. Today, with 99,099 acres, Vandenberg is the third largest Air Force Base after Eglin and Edwards. As of June, 2010, it has launched 1,900 orbital and ballistic missiles.
Also near Lompoc is a quite different reservation: the Return to Freedom Wild Horse Sanctuary, a 300-acre former farm that supports about 200 rescued and wild horses in their natural family groups. The Bureau of Land Management estimates that there are 37,000 wild horses and burros wandering over 10 western states. The sanctuary rescues wild and abandoned horses and burros and puts some up for private adoption. Because horses only thrive in herds, the sanctuary has developed a unique contract with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) to assure that the horses it rescues from public lands are relocated as a group, with their herds intact. Visitors may partake of various educational programs and hikes to learn about the natural history of horses, such as an evening hike to view the small herds at night in their natural habitat.
Amtrak does not provide ticketing or baggage services at the Lompoc-Surf 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.
- 5 Short Term Parking Spaces
- Accessible Platform
- Dedicated Parking