Abandoned Rails of Alameda


GOOGLE MAPS no longer available: With apologies, I am unable to continue showing Google Maps. Google has forced my hand by increasing their map usage fee from nothing/free to OVER $300 A MONTH for the Abandoned Rails website! This is an expense that I simply cannot afford. Rest assured I am looking at available open source alternatives, so maps should be back online soon!

Greg Harrison

(Forwarded from the Alameda Belt Line Railroad)

Showing of

An aerial view of the Alameda Mole, early 1900s. Photo by the U.S. National Park Service.

Alameda, CA was a true railroad town -- it served as the western terminus for the original transcontinental railroad. It also served as a port for Southern Pacific railroad ferries. This port, or "Mole", was served by local trolley cars, railroad ferries to San Francisco, and local steam commuter lines of both Central Pacific and Southern Pacific. Upon completion of the Bay Bridge, the Alameda Mole was no longer necessary. Soon after, the Mole area formed the basis of the Alameda Naval Air Station, which closed in 1997.

Today, remnants of the original tracks and structures are easily found throughout Alameda.

Clement Avenue Branch: The Clement Avenue Branch was a short line that ran in the pavement of Clement Avenue, in order to serve local industries (see pictures below). A majority of tracks in this area of Alameda were constructed in 1918 by the city itself in order to grant rail access to a number of customers along its shoreline. Access was first given to the Southern Pacific Railroad via trackage rights. In 1925, the city handed control of the plant over to the newly-formed Alameda Belt Line Railroad, owned jointly by both the Athcison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway and the Western Pacific Railroad, who continued to operate/maintain the tracks.

By the time the last shipper on the line closed down in 1998, the ABL was still operating under both BNSF Railway (successor of the AT&SF) and the Union Pacific Railroad (successor of the WP). The ABL then ceased operations over the line, and the city purchased the plant back from ABL in hopes of possibly continuing rail operations. However, at this point the tracks were in bad shape, and due to no prospective customers along the line, the City of Alameda and the Alameda Belt Line Railroad filed for abandonment of the entire route in 2012.

105th Avenue Branch: The south part of Oakland was a heavy industrial area, once served by the 105th Avenue Branch off of the SP/UP main line. Though abandoned, the tracks still remain in the area.

Thanks to Andrew Laverdiere for contributing information about this route.

Historic ICC Abandonment Filings

Docket Number: 17438 Date: 7/24/1951 Section: 1(18)
App. of City of Alameda, Calif, for abandonment by Southern Pacific Company of its line of railroad on Lincoln Avenue, Alameda, Alameda County, Calif, approx. 10,190 feet.
Length: 1.93 miles Citation: 290 ICC 803  

STB Filings and Decisions

Docket Number   Activity

Most of the Clementine Ave. line is still visible in Google Maps. You can zoom the satellite view in pretty far, and about 2/3 of the street is covered with "Street View" as well. Of course, they don't have the date of the imagery so it's probably a bit older than the photos here.

Mike B
Sacramento, CA


First picture in Alameda section is not Alameda Mole but rather its more famous relative the Oakland Mole, or Oakland Pier. Picture was probably taken in the 1920s or later as the auto ferry pier can be seen in the lower left hand corner, former site of Oakland Long Wharf. Alameda Mole was farther to the west at the tip of Alameda Point and was first constructed by the South Pacific Coast Railroad as a means of reaching deep water for a ferry connection to San Francisco, as was the reason for all the moles as the east bay was blessed with countless acres of mudflats between dry land and deep water! To help muddy the matter a little more between Oakland and Alameda Moles was the Western Pacific Railroad Mole that served as a passenger terminal until the early thirties and then continued as a freight ferry transport point until the 1970s/1980s(?). WP Mole area is now a park with remnants of the head end of the ferry pier still there. Oakland Mole site is now 7th Street Containership Terminal for the Port Of Oakland. Alameda Mole site is almost directly across the Oakland Estuary, or San Antonio Creek, from the WP Mole and is the North East corner of the former Alameda Naval Air Station.

Dave Alberti
Sacramento, CA


Major rehab of the south end of the Embarcadero Oakland spur was just done, include the street trackage on the Oakland side of that bridge to the south, below the agricultural processing customer on that end of the line. They also rehabbed the connection to the main line on the east end of the bridge. Doubtful this is for Alameda service, but rather customer access to the Embarcadero spur from its south end.

Oakland, CA


Does anyone happen to know who owns the Title to the land and Rights of Way to many of these Bay Area abandoned railways? Are they owned by the cities/municipalities themselves and predominantly put to Public Use or Trail Use?

Also, does anyone know where I can find Title & Rights-of-Way information on these abandoned railways in the Bay Area? Is this info available on the STB website? Are there any examples of private firms buying the ROW in the Bay Area, and does anyone have any data on actual sale amounts in recent history ? Thanks.

Kamil K.
San Jose


The trackage referred to as the "Clement Avenue Branch" was actually the Alameda Belt Line Railroad. Originally built and operated by the City of Alameda, it was sold jointly to the Western Pacific and Santa Fe, but operated independently (often in conjunction with the Oakland Terminal Railway). WP and ATSF had no physical connection to ABL, and interchange was accomplished via car ferry until that service was abandoned, after which time cars moved as overhead traffic via the Southern Pacific. SP connected with ABL just south of the intersection of Clement and Oak streets, and there was a short run-around track between the Blanding Avenue crossing and the Estuary railroad lift bridge. After SP abandoned its ex-Interurban Electric Railway trackage down Lincoln Avenue, SP operated on the ABL to access it's own customers in West Alameda along with those jointly served with the ABL in Alameda proper, and to interchange with the ABL at their yard north of Sherman Street. Due to mergers, ABL ownership passed to UP (WP) and BNSF (ATSF). All trackage in Alameda has been abandoned, although much of the rail remains in place. The City of Alameda recently was successful in court in re-acquiring the land that once held the ABL's yard and engine house, and will eventually redevelop it for non-rail use. The former SP lift bridge over the Estuary is still in place and maintained in operating condition, although the rails approaching from both sides have been removed by UP. As info, this bridge was built in 1951 and never carried the electrified trains of SP subsidiary Interurban Electric Railway, which discontinued passenger service in 1941.

Rich Sievers
Alameda, CA


Who knows anything about the history of the tracks on 105th ave in east oakland.Did trains ever run down 90th ave in east oakland?

joseph dominguez
berkeley, CA


This route was also owned by the Almanda Belt Line

Cupertino, CA


105th Avenue Branch is offically known as the Stonehurst Branch.

Vic Neves
Albany Oregon


Shortened Link: http://a-r.us/x6d

Do you have any pictures or information about Abandoned Rails of Alameda? Please . You will get credit for anything you contribute.