Bay Area Rails: Then and Now


Sign The Guestbook!

John Falconer

Location: El Cerrito, CA
October 23, 2020, 5:12 pm

Nice to see your site. I may have some local shots to contribute. Cheers, John
Sam Lewit

Location: Oakland, CA
August 13, 2020, 4:55 am

Test 2 for email notification
dick darby

Location: astoria oregon
January 17, 2016, 8:43 pm

I was born in Oakland,1937. remember grandma taking me downtown oakland on the trolley! always LOVED the sounds of the traction motors and the compressor! smell great too! Ozone/cigars/etc. When in high school I used the Key System a lot! Had O scale trolleys for some years. Loved to wander thru the sac. No. yards too. Good old days when you could wander into SP roundhouse w/o getting chased out!! Living on columbia river now & painting boatsI ALSO we have a 100 year old trolley that runs along our river walk!!!
JEFF garrett

Location: Berkeley. Ca
May 10, 2015, 12:28 am

Thanks for this web site. I'm not a real "computer type" (see Luddite)and a friend told me about this web site and it is a hit. Where I live in what is called "Northbrae" there were the old S.P. California st. line on the corner, later the Key H line. The old SP tunnel is 4 blocks away and Solano Ave and Colusa where the SP 9th St. St. line the California line and the Shattuck Ave line all met is 3 blocks away. I was born 30 years to late! I remember the Key System. What a shame it is all gone!

Location: san francico,california
January 23, 2015, 6:39 pm

this a great website
Lawrence Turner

Location: San Francisco, CA
March 22, 2014, 9:07 pm

Considering a home in Montclair. I'd buy that property by the tunnel if I could get it! Thank you for the maps and pictures.
Alfred Doten

Location: Virginia City, NV
July 4, 2012, 6:25 pm

Great stuff!
Tom H.

Location: Richmond, CA
March 1, 2012, 7:02 pm

My family moved to Clyde in 1947 and my first sightings of the SN electric freight trains really triggered something even though I was a little kid. I grew up in North Concord in the 1950s and the SN was a half block from home. I had a paper route that took me out Sanford St and down Ranchito Dr. and then down the Port Chicago Highway to the Holbrook Plaza. I used to watch them double and triple the trains over Ohmer Hill and I watched them take the wire down in 1958. I thought I had seen almost every picture of the SN until I discovered your site. Every time I am in the Concord area the SN memories come flooding back. The North Concord area is like a different planet now compared to 1955. Nice website.
Jean Circiello

Location: Oakland CA
September 7, 2011, 4:00 am

I just stumbled on a reference to the "Laundry Farm" at Leona Heights in a family photo probably taken around 1910. Google sent me to you. What fun!
John Barry

Location: Cotati, CA
July 4, 2011, 11:49 pm

Thank you! I am modelling the Santa Fe from Middle River to Richmond and your site gave me some good info about the parallel lines of the SP and SN between Port Chicago and Pitsburg/Antioch.
Ray Ong

Location: Daly City
March 20, 2011, 3:50 am

Really interesting site. I grew up in the Yuba City/Marysville area and did not know that trains ran from Chico to the Bay Area. I worked at BART and was really surprised to read that some of the right of way way part of the old railway. The old rail system was quite extensive. I will be revisiting this site often. Thanks.
Stan Korich

Location: Walnut Creek
March 2, 2011, 4:36 am

Really enjoyed the memory lane you created for me. ...Was born and raised in Oakland at the base of Leona Heights, in the old "Laundry Farm Canyon" (Lincoln Square area of Highway 13 just south of Redwood Road and Redwood Heights school where I attended through the 1960's). I have explored many sections of the SN and the quarry/mine rails directly below the current Merritt College site where I also attended and my father was a coach/teacher for 44 years. Hiked and biked and delivered the Oakland Tribune in those Leona hills as a kid. First job was gutting rainbow trout at the McCrea Park ponds on Carson Street. Let's hike my old childhood areas together some time. Now live only a few steps from the SN "Saranap" station in Walnut Creek. Stan
Mark C

Location: Oroville, CA
May 29, 2010, 1:34 am

Grew up in San Leandro. Was and is (are?) a big fan of WP. Only recently had time and money and inclination to explore more about it. Found your site looking for SN info on the web. I got a boatload to say, and reveal about the North End... write me, let's talk. MC

Location: Concord
January 27, 2010, 7:33 pm

Found you when I was chasing down places where I might find an image of Star Theatre in Oakland. Found John Harder photo of same that lead to his photos of Sacramento Northern that was still shoving freight cars around on a rr line running through Concord in the 50s. Thanks for good stuff. Glad I found you.
David Kindelt

Location: Woodland, Ca
September 22, 2009, 12:50 am

Great site, Brings back a lot of great memories. Thanks

Location: Berkeley, CA
September 21, 2009, 12:20 am

I did some major studying looking at several topo maps from 1941, 1948 and 1968. The maps in the 40's are difficult to trace as it looks like Moraga was aligned differently. You're right my map is off slightly along Viader Rd. Maybe 1/4 of a block. But ALL the topo maps I've seen show the ROW east of Moraga Rd as being on the St Mary's side of the road and NOT following the trail on the north side of the road. After all the tracks went right through St Mary's.... I've walked the ROW there. The ROW then crosses St Mary's right at the "S"S turn near Bolinger Cyn Rd.

September 20, 2009, 10:41 pm

Just rediscovered your great site. I grew up near Moraga and know the old SN ROW well. Your map does have a minor error - the ROW aligned with Viader Dr and coincides with the 'Iron Horse' trail east of Moraga Road. Google Maps shows some remnants between Viader and School St.

Location: Stockton, Ca
September 20, 2009, 2:57 am

Just found your site! HURRAY!!
Stephen Hjellum

Location: Davis, California
August 19, 2009, 9:01 pm

One of my favorite Railroading sites...
John Lee

Location: Lakeview, Or
July 9, 2009, 6:31 pm

As a young kid (12-140 in the 50's, I used to 'hop' the F train, hanging off the grab rails and bumpers with my friends, we rode sometimes all the way to SF at night across the bridge. Dangerous, hell yes! but we did it anyway. I lived at the time in an apartment with my mother just 50' to the west of the tunnel entrance in Northbrae behind what was then 'Joe's Market' and Johnny Dryden ran the meat market where I sometimes worked.
Ken Allen

Location: Placerville, Ca
February 23, 2009, 6:48 am

I got hooked on this site for over 2 hrs. A former native of Oakland in the 40's and 50's, I have also located the west and east portals and talked to the owner of the house that had part of his garage and street in front, begin to collapse into the tunnel. I often visit Rio Vista Junction with my grandson and love to ride the Key Bridge units. I'm also a volunteer on the steam train at the Nevada State RR Museum in Carson City. Oakland is a good place to be from!
Drew Laverdiere

Location: Oakland CA
January 4, 2009, 10:09 am

Great! What a wealth of info, especially the SN. I was pondering how to get up to some of the more remote parts, and here you have the photos! Good job.

November 7, 2008, 5:23 pm

John: Just click on the contact link on the menu bar and send e-mail. There's no way to contact you through the guestbook.

November 7, 2008, 12:02 am


Location: Cowell, CA
October 28, 2008, 12:31 am

Great pictures! I'm very impressed with the site.

Location: Oakland, CA (E Trainsville)
September 17, 2008, 6:34 pm

Great Site. Thanks for all of the great stuff. My advice to anyone who didn't get a chance to experience the trains, is to pick the brains of those who were here during that time. You will learn a hell of a lot.
Brian Powers

Location: Sacramento
June 4, 2008, 3:38 am

I recall that as a very small child in Oroville, trains traveled past our house on High St. downtown. Does anyone know if that was a Sacramento Norther line. If not, what rail company was it?
G.T.B. (Haunt)

Location: El Cerrito, Ca.
June 3, 2008, 12:11 am

I am considerably impressed with your site. You show some information I did not have access to before.I do not have capability to provide photos so I enjoy seeing what is available.There is much more to know about ATSF,WP,OT,ABL,S.F.Belt and much more. Hope to see site grow.
Lee Stephens

Location: Tucson, Arizona
April 12, 2008, 7:07 pm

Great site! I grew up in Hayward in the late 20s and 30s and the family made several trips to Chico on the SN. I was always fascinated by the way the rails were hooke up on the ferry crossing -- they never missed!
John DeVore

Location: Thousand Oaks, California
April 1, 2008, 12:48 am

Don't know how many know this. About twelve years ago, a home developer filled in the west side approach to the Oakland Hills tunnel. The only part of the tunnel portal above ground was/is the horizontal one foot of the portal top. A home was constructed in front of that portal "top," and it serves as a backyard bench. What is fascinating is that a second home was constructed a few hundred yards to the rear of the first home and directly on TOP of the tunnel. Although the first portion of the SN tunnel from the portal eastward was concrete lined, the remainder was not, and the second home sat on top of this unlined portion. Soon after completion, the second home slowly sank as the tunnel below caved in. The stunned developer, having to destroy the home and devastating his net worth, attempted to sue the Union Pacific Railroad, the former owner of that tunnel through its Western Pacific/Sacramento Northern acquisition years before. From what I understand, the lawsuit failed. Maps showed the tunnel location, and it was up to the new owner of the land above to determine construction viability.
Stan Fong

Location: Lafayette, CA
February 15, 2008, 12:46 am

Sam, I never realized that this was your site, even after hiking around in Canyon with you! Great job - when's our next SN exploration going to be? Stan
Tom Motter

Location: Rancho Cordova, CA
October 10, 2007, 2:54 pm

Thanks so much to all of you who have contributed to this site. It's amazing! I didn't realize that there was so much available on the S/N. Wish I had some contribution...I grew up in Montclair in late 40's. Remember the trains coming down Shafter, alongside Claremont Jr. High during the Korean War. I sat in an English class (1951) watching train after train hauling War material towards the Oakland Army Terminal. Remember thinking, I hope this (conflict) doesn't last too much longer...I missed the really good stuff by ten years! Oh well...
Mark Anderson

July 28, 2007, 10:54 pm

very, very nice site! First time I heard of the aerial tram in the Oakland hills. So far I find no other internet info about the tram. Thanks of the great pictures! Mark Anderson
Doug Parr

Location: Colorado Springs, Colorado
March 19, 2007, 9:54 pm

Thanks for creating this wonderful site. I grew up in Oakland and the East Bay and remember riding on the Key System trolleys and trains. Your old photos brought many memories out of the distant past. When I was a kid, we used to ride the train over the Bay Bridge to the Transbay Terminal. From there, we could ride trolleys to the zoo or the Academy of Sciences. I sure wouldn't let my kids do that alone today. The 16th Street Station was such a beautiful place. What a shame it has been ruined.
Fred M. Cain

Location: Topeka, Indiana
November 16, 2006, 1:06 pm

I was looking at your fascinating materials on the old SN in the East Bay. What a terrible tragedy that this has all been allowed to go to waste! Has anyone ever explored the possibilty of reviving part of the Oakland - Moraga section as a new light rail transit line?

Location: Palo Alto, CA
October 8, 2006, 5:06 pm

Wonderful photos and historical info.
Chuck MacLeod

Location: Alamo, CA
April 14, 2006, 6:01 am

These are some great pictures as I grew up in the Montclair area of Oakland and do remember back just as the SN was being removed after freight service ended. Wonderful job puting the pictures together.
Herbert M. Gladwill, Jr.

Location: Outside Douglas, Arizona
March 27, 2006, 1:50 pm

I am a long time rail fan and model builder. I am also a former resident of the Bay Area where I lived for many years before enlisting in the Army in 1967. I love Railroad history and I often search the Railroad sites for model building info. You have an excellent site here.
Dave Cooper

Location: Amsterdam, The Netherlands
February 19, 2006, 1:54 pm

What a treasure, this website ! I lived in Oakland, Piedmont, Alameda and San Francisco from 1969 to 2001. I missed the Key System, but my Bay Area native born partner, knew it well. Later, when I worked for the French firm contracted to build the new B.A.R.T. cars in the '80s did I learn about the folly of ridding the Bay Area of trams (streetcars) did I realise that the Bay Area had once had a decent tram and rail system. I had no idea that the concept for B.A.R.T. was conceived in the 1940s. Had no idea there was a link to Canyon as well. Thanks for a superb site. Come to The Netherlands and see our new trams (made by Siemens --- GPS coordinated and containing a conductor's booth and videos inside the cars)... Will be back ! Groetjes !
Russ Taft

Location: Orinda, CA
February 7, 2006, 9:15 pm

:cool: Found ''Eastport" geocahe, hence this website. I, too am a history nut, and like old railway R.O.W. and also bridges. Glad I found it.
Bruce W Goodell

Location: Berkeley, CA
December 30, 2005, 7:05 am

I moved to Berkeley in 1948, came up on the "Owl" with a prisoner car on the head-end, rode the #7, 5 & 4 streetcars, and rode the SN to Sacto, freight in 1951-spring-cab & caboose pass from pres of rr, commuted on "F"'s in 50's-enjoy your site very much, thank you
Bob Renouf

Location: Livermore, CA
December 27, 2005, 6:11 pm

Great WEBsite! I really enjoyed it. I lived in Berkeley in the 50's and I took some pictures of the Berkeley "F" train on the last day of service in April 1958. I can e-mail them to you if you are interested. My e-mail is
J. James

Location: Tucson, AZ
November 13, 2005, 8:21 pm

Thank you for your wonderful website. I've had a longtime interest in the Oakland 16th Street station and was so thrilled to find current photos and archived photos from the early days of this Beaux Arts structure. The material you've collected from all over the Bay Area is an invaluable resource.
T. E. Kasinger

Location: Alameda, CA
November 7, 2005, 12:30 am

:-) Terrific website, thanks! The Key System, excellent. I am one of those who as a child used the bridge units. I have a controller from one of them as well as a destination curtain, a full set of buttons used on the conductor's coat, a few tokens, and plenty of movies of Key System traction, streetcars and interurbans. Correct, few people living in this area are aware of the Key System and the Sacaramento Northern. Tom
George Red

Location: NY
November 4, 2005, 6:39 pm

Very good site! I like it! I just wanted to pass on a note to let you know what a great job you have done with this site..Thanks!

Location: SoCal
October 26, 2005, 4:03 pm

I thought the lead photo looked familiar.My family moved to Taft Ave. in 1908. That's about three blocks away. I grew up hearing about these lines. Great work!

October 5, 2005, 4:32 am


Location: GaryMan
September 30, 2005, 6:44 am

My congratulatinos. I like it.
Martin Stierlen

Location: Korntal, Germany
August 26, 2005, 3:51 pm

Great stuff. I appreciate the amount of work that went into the making of this site. More ! Regards Martin

Location: Lafayette
July 27, 2005, 1:54 am

Great website!! I spend alot of time researching the Sacramento Northern. The collection here of SN photos, maps and articles answers many questions I've had. Message to Sam -- your email address doesn't work. Is there a new one you could post please? I'd like to talk trains with you. Thanks.

Location: Ziber
July 18, 2005, 5:45 pm

Very nice work. Greatings from dr.Zigel.
Janice G

June 27, 2005, 6:11 am

Talk about memory lane. Didn't know the site exist. I rode the F train every single weekend to and from Berkeley to SF with my grandmother. That was in the early 50's. Can't remember what year the F train stopped running. Anybody know?

June 24, 2005, 3:33 pm

soo awesome, I'm a super train nerd. also only into the urban planning aspects not train schedules.what the eastbay could be if those rails stayed.Is there a movement to restore these trains?the history of them is so romantic. if anyone ever puts on an exhibit on this please contact me I would love to volunteer.
Jose Sabas

June 24, 2005, 3:32 pm

I thoroughly enjoyed this site! I hope you'll be able to turn up more of the Emeryville area. It's interesting how rich the railroad history is in the Eastbay, and how easily it's been forgotten in this age too many cars. ---- Keep up the great work!!!
John Lynch

June 24, 2005, 3:32 pm

hi there, anybody got a picture of the fruitvale tower? i saw one pic in a railroad book, but the book is not mine, its in california, im in seattle, but im a california native , allways liked trains, like my dad. growing up, i thought all trains were locomotives. born in ukiah, grew up in bay area. help, thanxcredo quia absurdum
Anthony A-train Flor

June 24, 2005, 3:32 pm

This site is really awesome. I grew up in the East Bay. I used to live on Underhills and more recently on Lakeshore Ave. Hard to believe trains ran so close! I always heard Trestle Glen got it's name because a train ran up it. You website has pictures of it. Thank you so much.
Robert Manning

June 24, 2005, 3:31 pm

This is a fantastic website.I'm a traction fan and have admired the Sacramento Northern from afar (the east coast).
Arthur White

June 24, 2005, 3:31 pm

Great site! I almost missed an appointment "strolling through" the photo gallery. As a Realtor living in Oakland, with an office in Berkeley, I find that many of us are from elsewhere and don't know much about Oakland's history. This is a great resource. Thank you.-Art
David DeLamater

June 24, 2005, 3:31 pm

I was employeed by ac transit key system's prtosessor and from 1970-1983 so remember the newer eastbay and drove the newer buses and visted the reo vist mus.and have a key system album wow not like Seattle where I grew up but only lived in the bay aera 12 years good site

June 24, 2005, 3:30 pm

My grandfather, Charles Dalton, was an engineer on the Super Chief. My grandmother's first husband, Edward McCutchen, also a rail employee (not sure if Santa Fe or other) was killed by Pancho Villa's men in a train holdup - some time between 1900 and 1920. If anyone has any clue where I could find more about this, I would be very appreciative. I know my uncle was given some money by the Mexican government - but not until the 1950's.
Robert Whitehead

June 24, 2005, 3:30 pm

A really great website. As a lifelong Bay Area railfan, I was pleased to find photos and maps that I had not seen previously.
John Stashik

June 24, 2005, 3:30 pm

I've always liked this site. The new design makes it even better.
Jim Baker

June 24, 2005, 3:30 pm

Congratulations on a great site. I may contribute some pictures in the future.
Daniel Levy

June 24, 2005, 3:29 pm

I went on to see if there were any new photos when I saw something that I have never seen before. A new design! Wow! Looks good. Daniel
Key Route Ken

June 24, 2005, 3:29 pm

Sam's site is GREAT... I think there are some areas for improvement so you can read things better. I know it takes time. I'm thinking about becoming one of his frequent photo contributors. I have a few KEY, SN and SP pictures he might be able to use !
Sand W

June 24, 2005, 3:29 pm

Great photos & all.Check the new Key System website getting started for organizing to restore local rail service, along the old rail lines presumably.-Sand W
Pat McAtee

June 24, 2005, 3:29 pm

Whoa!!!Brings back some memories and, answers some questions as well. As a child, my folks took me on the Key for its' last night operating on the SFO-BB. We had to drive from Hilton St. (2 blocks from Bond/Bancroft and Seminary.) to the courthouse. We then rode across the bridge and had dinner at Manning's. That's about all I remember of that night but, after the tracks were removed from the bridge, my dad and uncle took me out in a State pickup (Dad was a Steel Inspector for the Division of Highways.) so they could climb (Yes climb! They WERE Iron workers after all.) out on the girders and take a look. I stayed put in the pickup, where I was told!
John V.

June 24, 2005, 3:28 pm

Interesting stuff. I recently found an old railway token. Its smaller than a dime, with a cutwork center and read "East Bay Street Railways Ltd." and "Good For One Fare" on the obverse. Anyone have an idea what it cost for a ride?

June 24, 2005, 3:28 pm

Great Pictures! I live nearby the entrance of the Oakland West side of the tunnel through the hills...hard to believe it was once there. Also checked out the east side entrance which is evident barely. Some rusty equipment seems to be only residual beyond the general shape of the tunnel exit.
Jimmy J Mata

June 24, 2005, 3:28 pm

I love this site Am a big SN and Bay Area Railfan
Tim Sagavlio

June 24, 2005, 3:27 pm

Great Site, thanks for the time, effort and expense! Best Regards, Tim S:
Henry Markwart

June 24, 2005, 3:27 pm

I like the site. Perhaps I will contribute in the near future. I took thousands of SP, Key System, SN and other pix in the Bay Area back in the day of dinosaurs and three speed Chevvys. Keep up the good work.
Mark Effle

June 24, 2005, 3:27 pm

Great site. Will look forward to seeing it grow. I especially like the traction sections.What no Napa Valley?:
Rory Calhoun

June 24, 2005, 3:26 pm

Hey guys, I have plenty of pictures of all the good east bay locations... Most years. The only problem is that there's so many, I forgot where I got most of them. Thanx
Robert Towar

June 24, 2005, 3:26 pm

You've made a fine site, Sam. I look forward to watching it grow!!
Wm Hanich

June 24, 2005, 3:26 pm

Great Web Site. I will also put this in My Favorites. I enjoy viewing old railroad photos. I traveled by train to the west coast as a military man or should I say boy because I was 18 yrs of age. I traveled from Pottsville, Pa.(1946) by train. I rode the Southern Pasific from denver to San Fransisco, but I don't remember if the train stopped at Oakland Or Frisco, maybe I went by bus from Oakland. Yours Truly Bill Hanich

June 24, 2005, 3:25 pm

Great site. Really enjoyed it. "Stash" sent it to me and I've added to my bookmarked sites.
Jerry Kelley

June 24, 2005, 3:25 pm

Just a word of thanks from back east,Reisterstrown,Md. to you out west. Thanks for the page and it has been made one of my "favorites". ThanksJerry Kelly

June 24, 2005, 3:25 pm

I'll be visiting this site often.