Stockton to Merced

The Oakdale Branch

Picture Point of Interest

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

Showing of

Facing east at Alpine Road near Stockton. Photo by Mike Palmer, April 2012.

This was once a loop branch that diverted from Southern Pacific's Central Valley main line in Stockton, served ranches in the east valley, and re-connected near Merced.

It was abandoned in stages, generally from south to north. Most of the route ran parallel to local highways. Since the topography was mostly flat, some segments of the right of way have been absorbed into the adjacent farms.

There is a short segment still in service in downtown Oakdale. UP trains reach this segment through trackage rights on the Sierra Railway, which also runs through Oakdale.

Thanks to Mike Palmer for contributing information about this route.

Historic ICC Abandonment Filings

Docket Number: 13679 Date: 3/30/1942 Section: 1
App. of Southern Pacific RR Co. (owner) and Southern Pacific Company (operator) for abandonment of a portion of the so-called Oakdale Branch at or near Montpellier to a point at or near Merced, a distance of approximately 21.097 miles, located in Merced and Stanislaus Counties, Calif.
Length: 21.097 miles Citation: 252 ICC 806  
Docket Number: AB-12 Sub 7 Date: 4/26/1973 Section: 1(18)
Applic. for authority to abandon the end portion [and operation] of its Oakdale Branch from MP 127.02, at or near Claribel, to the end of the branch line at MP 140.29, at or near Montpellier, a distance of 13.27 mi., in Stanislaus County, Calif., together with all sidings, spur tracks and appurtenances.
Length: 13.27 miles Citation:  
Docket Number: AB 12 Sub 59 Date: 6/1/1979 Section: 1a
Application filed for authority to abandon 2.62 miles of branch line of the Oakdale Branch from MP 127.02 at or near Claribel to MP 124.4 at or near Oakdale in Stanislaus County, California.
Length: 2.62 miles Citation:  

\My question? I remember a yellow SP depot and a wooden refrigerator can when I was a child, in the 50s and later in the 60s. The engines that worked this branch, where were they station and what type were they. Was there any water towers?

Patrick M. Cassell
orginally: Merced, CA


The first abandonment from Merced to Montpellier was the direct result of a rather suspicious fire early in 1942 that burned the massive mile long wooden trestle across the Merced River. With the war in progress, materials to rebuild the big trestle were to costly and hard to obtain. Traffic on the line was not that great by that time and it was cheaper to abandon the track and use the rail where it was needed elsewhere. Some concrete supports for the steel section at the north end of the river canyon crossing are still visible today along with a historical marker. It must have been an impressive sight when still in service.

Robert Williams
Modesto , CA


When I lived in Modesto I discovered the branch, what is left. That portion serves the Hershy plant but certain it is still open.

Robert Benkelman
Elizabeth , NJ


Shortened Link:

Do you have any pictures or information about The Oakdale Branch? Please . You will get credit for anything you contribute.