Wednesday, December 4, 2013

trains in Oakland

Alot of people outside of Oakland are writing about Oakland, which is mostly a good thing. (There have been several notable exceptions.) One article I read recently is titled "Lessons from Oakland's waterfront district", on lessons for Seattle to learn on modernizing an area without losing all its character.

Someone asked about the streets shared with heavy trains, which is kind of unusual. Lots of cities have light rail, but heavy railroads through the middle of a city, especially sharing streets with cars, aren't so common any more. Railroads have long been a big part of Oakland; the first transcontinental railroad line terminated here, and helped shape Oakland. But the waterfront lines haven't been Oakland's only heavy rail system. The Sacramento Northern Railway used to rumble up and down Shafter Avenue to 40th Street (where it then shared tracks with the Key System streetcars.) And the Southern Pacific's East Bay Electric Lines competed for a time with the Key System.

Having trains mixed with street traffic has led to a few accidents over the years, but no more so than regular railroad crossings anywhere else, whether gated or not. I think people forget that trains can't swerve or stop suddenly, and then are surprised when they re-learn otherwise.

I set about to seeing what pictures I have of trains in Oakland, particularly in JLS, and found a number, including a video I took while riding the Capitol Corridor from Oakland to Sacramento.


Neal A. Parish said...

Check out this video I shot in 2009, showing a historic steam engine street running on the Embarcadero:

Unknown said...

Very cool! Sorry I missed that.

Andy K said...

Neal - like your avatar - I assume it is from the end of the BB bike path, right?

Gene, is there any place that list all the "traces" of the old SN/Key System lines? I especially love some of the traces in Piedmont. There is one house there that is constructed diagonally towards the street, linearly on the old ROW.

Unknown said...

There a bunch of links on the OaklandWiki entries for the Sacramento Northern and Key System. A couple of note are:
- SN Interactive Maps on Bay Area Rails
- Key System - Local Streetcar Lines in 1937 on OB&E