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Nostalgia & History > Vintage ATSF in the Bay Area, Part I

Date: 11/07/10 18:48
Vintage ATSF in the Bay Area, Part I
Author: rob_l

This is the eighteenth installment in my retrospective of Bay Area Trains, 1971 – 2003. In previous threads I have covered the S. F. Belt Railroad, the SP in the West Bay, the SP in the East Bay, and the WP in the Bay Area. Now I would like to share my favorite photos of the Santa Fe in the Bay Area.

1. Through the decade of the 1970s, Santa Fe operated over its own tracks between Richmond and Oakland. Between 8pm and 8am, the “5th Oakland Local” made a round trip Richmond to Oakland. The Local took care of interchange at Oakland with Oakland Terminal and SP as well as spotting the remaining active ATSF-served industries in Emeryville and Oakland. In May, 1979, ATSF began exercising trackage rights over the SP and its operations over the Oakland District came to an end. On the morning of 4/21/79, I shot the Local ambling up the center of Sacramento Street in Berkeley on its way back to Richmond. Back-to-back Geeps were standard power for the train. Until 1971, the Santa Fe’s principal intermodal facility for the Bay Area was located at 40th and San Pablo in Emeryville. After the end of ATSF passenger operations, an intermodal ramp was opened in Richmond, but I am fuzzy about whether the Emeryville ramp closed immediately upon the opening of the Richmond ramp, or if it continued to operate for some years. I am not sure if it was still operating at the time of this photo, although the TOFC loads on the train seem to suggest that might have been the case.

2. The last run of the 5th Oakland Local over ATSF rails occurred on May 12, 1979. Freshly painted GP20 3056 led the way. At El Cerrito, a stop was made where public officials and Santa Fe managers spoke a few words. Just as the Local was departing from the ceremony, a BART train soared overhead. Engineer Art Pipes exchanges waves with well-wishers as the last Oakland District train leaves town.

3. In the last month of ATSF passenger operations before Amtrak, I got out a few times to shoot the Santa Fe passenger train serving the Bay Area. On 4/27/71 ATSF Number 2, the eastbound San Francisco Chief, accelerates northward between Rheem and Gateley sidings, not far into its transcontinental journey. AABBB Fs pilot 8 cars.


Date: 11/07/10 18:49
Re: Vintage ATSF in the Bay Area, Part I
Author: rob_l

4. ATSF Number 1, the westbound San Francisco Chief, glides out of the deep cut approaching Pinole on the morning of April 24, 1971. The train includes two baggage cars, a crew dormitory, two step-up high-level coaches, a full dome lounge, a diner and a sleeper, powered by AABBB F units.

5. On the afternoon of 4/24/71 ATSF Number 2, the eastbound San Francisco Chief, works upgrade past Collier siding. My vantage point for this photo is now in somebody’s living room, the pasture having been carved up into tract home lots a couple of years after I took the photo. This day’s train has one baggage car but two sleepers, still a total of 8 cars powered by the same 5 F units that brought Number 1 into town in the morning.

6. After Number 2 passes I move up closer to the siding to shoot the station sign and a vista of the Franklin Canyon countryside under spring shower clouds. In the center of the frame, Number 2 can be seen climbing the grade. Behind the station sign, in the left background, one can see the Collier Carbon plant and its attendant rows of brown Santa Fe covered hoppers. At the right, one can see the 1971 version of Highway 4, a lovely tree-lined two-lane country highway, as opposed to a broad swath of freeway as it is nowadays. (4/24/71)


Date: 11/07/10 18:50
Re: Vintage ATSF in the Bay Area, Part I
Author: rob_l

7. The Santa Fe passenger service was a class act right up to the last run. Glinting in the late-afternoon sun, number 2 works upgrade passing Christie siding on 4/10/71, ABABB F units leading 8 cars. The siding is plugged with covered hoppers staged for the carbon plant at Collier.

Hope you enjoyed this little show, and thanks for looking. As always, comments and corrections are welcome.

Best regards,

Rob L.

P.S. Previous threads in this series are as follows:

S. F. Belt RR – Barge Interchange
S. F. Belt RR – Passenger Service
S. P. Commutes, Part I
S. P. Commutes, Part II
Return of the Daylight, Part I
Return of the Daylight, Part II
SP in the East Bay, Part I
SP in the East Bay, Part II
SP in the East Bay, Part III
SP in the East Bay, Part IV
SP in the East Bay, Part V
WP over Altamont, Part I
WP over Altamont, Part II
WP over Altamont, Part III
WP over, Altamont, Part IV
The Orange Light Bulb
WP in the Bay Area, Conclusion

Date: 11/07/10 18:57
Re: Vintage ATSF in the Bay Area, Part I
Author: RuleG

All great photos. Number 5 is amazing.

It's interesting that all your photos of #1 & 2 are with F units. All other photos I've seen shown this train in its last days before Amtrak show FP-45s as the power.

Looking forward to more of your images.

Date: 11/07/10 19:16
Re: Vintage ATSF in the Bay Area, Part I
Author: rob_l

RuleG Wrote:
> All great photos. Number 5 is amazing.

Thank you.
> It's interesting that all your photos of #1 & 2
> are with F units. All other photos I've seen shown
> this train in its last days before Amtrak show
> FP-45s as the power.

I do have a couple of shots of FP45s powering the train in the last few days, but they weren't as good as my F unit shots. I did not stick around to see the very last runs as I wanted to be at trackside at my alma mater, the UP Oregon Division, for that.

Best regards,

Rob L.

Date: 11/07/10 19:57
Re: Vintage ATSF in the Bay Area, Part I
Author: AlcoRSD15

Great stuff, as usual! Looking forward to more.
-- Eric B.

Date: 11/07/10 20:20
Re: Vintage ATSF in the Bay Area, Part I
Author: WP282


Great stuff. The Oakland local was the subject of my first railfan photos, as I grew up in North Berkeley, and would hear it blow for the crossings in Albany every morning. I could just make it out from the window of my bedroom, passing under the BART tracks. I took quite few B&W pics of the GP20 that day in El Cerrito as they allowed people to climb all over it that day. I am somewhere in the crowd in Pic #2.

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 11/07/10 20:22 by WP282.

Date: 11/08/10 06:52
Re: Vintage ATSF in the Bay Area, Part I
Author: Arved

I went to Longfellow Elementary School in Berkeley. The ATSF line was just a block away from the school, and a few blocks north of where it departed Sacramento street. It was always a treat to catch a sight of the train from either the school yard, or out the window of one of the classrooms. I had 4th and 5th grades classes in seperate school rooms on the second floor facing Sacramento street, and you could look out the window, and just barely see down the street (Ward Street) to the tracks.

Although an SP fan (SP Engineer Bill Byron was a neighbor, and his son Eddie was a playmate of mine), I have always had a fondness for ATSF's geeps. Especially the old "bookend" painted GP30s that were once commonplace on this local. It was always a disappointment when one of those f'ugly CF7 abortions was assigned to the local.

Tough to admit, but Santa Fe's Berkeley depot was also a lot better looking than the SP depot.

Sigh. Another era, completely, so it seems. It's rare I feel homesick.

- Arved
From a little too close to CSX milepost 666 (A-line)

Date: 11/09/10 08:33
Re: Vintage ATSF in the Bay Area, Part I
Author: SandyEgan

I was a little over 2 years old when my folks took me down to see the last local go through El Cerrito. I vaguely remember seeing the big blue and yellow engines. Somewhere I have a photo form Art that he took of the crowd. I could clearly see my folks in the crowd holding me up to see the train.

Date: 05/06/15 15:05
Re: Vintage ATSF in the Bay Area, Part I
Author: goldcoast

Beautiful San Francisco Chief photos.

Date: 05/06/15 16:52
Re: Vintage ATSF in the Bay Area, Part I
Author: train1275

Rob L, thanks for sharing these .... timeless classic images !!

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