Gosford is located on the San Joaquin Valley Railroad's ex-Southern Pacific Buttonwillow Branch and is the junction with the formerly joint SP-Santa Fe owned and operated Sunset Railway to Taft. Located about 9 miles southwest of Kern Junction, Gosford was once miles from civilization. Now, it is directly in the path of Southwest Bakersfield's urban sprawl.
Both the McKittrick (cut back to Buttonwillow in the late 1950's) Branch and the Sunset Railway were built to tap the petroleum reserves discovered in western Kern County in the late 19th century. Although the McKittrick Branch was controlled by Southern Pacific, the Sunset Railway was built independently and was operated jointly by Santa Fe and Southern Pacific having trackage rights between Kern Junction and Gosford. Since 1994, the Buttonwillow Branch has been operated by the San Joaquin Valley Railroad. When the Santa Fe ended it's operating period of the Sunset Railway in December 1996, operation of the Sunset was also taken over by SJVR.
As of early 2000, traffic is very strong on the Buttonwillow Branch seeing service at least six days per week and some days I have observed three crews working the branch at different locations. As for the Sunset Railway there is presently only one regular customer (Heritage Railcar repair at Levee), so traffic is sporadic. Service seems to be two to three times per week, however these trains can be quite impressive. Tri-level auto racks, five well stack cars and 89 foot TOFC flats are regularly sent to Heritage making for mainline-type trains. Unfortunately, I have yet to shoot any actual activity on the Sunset Railway as SJVR usually only works it on Monday through Friday during the daytime hours. Since these are my working hours, I usually miss the action.
Directions to Gosford from Highway 99 in Bakersfield:
Exit Hwy. 99 at White lane; Travel west approximately 3 miles to Gosford Road; Travel south on Gosford Road approximately 1/2 mile ; Turn west on Pacheco Road (immediately south of railroad crossing); The junction is located about 1/4 mile west of Gosford Road along Pacheco Road.
Nearest services: Gosford is located in a suburban area of southwest Bakersfield. Gas, food, lodging and retail businesses are all available within 5 miles.