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Railroaders' Nostalgia > mad dog chronicles #324. Bluxome alley


Date: 09/24/21 11:03
mad dog chronicles #324. Bluxome alley
Author: mdo

The San Francisco Terminal zone 6 was the trackage buried entirely in pavement, some of it still cobblestone, on Townsend and Bluxome Streets located between Second and Eighth Streets----the area just to the west of the passenger depot. There is a copy of the spins map in replies to MDC # 323 which shows a track schematic and lists the industries and warehouses for this zone.
 
 In 1968 this zone was impossible to switch except on the midnight shift.  Parked vehicles were still a problem, even then. Frequently it took several hours just to get your route cleared.   There was only a single way in to Bluxome Alley, a lead between Fourth and Third Streets and then it took considerable skill as tracks opened both north and south requiring a mental picture of the track layout and preplanning.  You had to have cars on both ends of your engine and a good deal of strategic thinking.

On a busy night we might only have a dozen cars on our list and make overtime to finish the whole list.

Many of the switches were of the submarine type with the switch lever covered by a steel plate buried in the pavement. These could be hard to throw particularly for spur tracks that did not have cars very often.

As time progressed, and the shift from warehouses to offices and decorator showrooms took place, this was one of the first areas to dry up as far as freight traffic in the downtown area went. Through the 1970s and 1980s real estate rental rates in San Francisco escalated dramatically.  You can not warehouse in an area where costs per square foot rise from $2 per square foot to $12 and up.  Warehouses and manufacturing left San Francisco, first to the mid East Bay and then for Tracy and East.

Perhaps because it was SPs headquarters, three shift per day service was maintained long after the level of rail freight business could justify it economically.

In the 1950s there were more than 60 switch engines per day.  On my last day working as a switchman in 1968 there were 47 regular assignments. In 1978 the number was in the low twenties.  Now there is only one job that switches in this terminal, based out of South San Francisco.
There is no freight activity north of tunnel number two.

If all this history interests you,  you might look up mad dog chronicles #190.

mdo



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 09/24/21 11:16 by mdo.



Date: 09/24/21 12:58
Re: mad dog chronicles #324. Bluxome alley
Author: goldcoast

You mentioned Bluxome St. which, as I recall was directly behind the building at 475 Brannan St
 and occupied by SP various Accounting Dept. functions as well as the huge basement that
 housed files and records from virtually every department.  My estimate roughly 50,000 boxes of
 files.
 



Date: 09/24/21 13:29
Re: mad dog chronicles #324. Bluxome alley
Author: CPCoyote

Didn't work the depot job that often, but I remember the challenges of Bluxome Alley. One of my favorite moves was switching MJB coffee, across Third Street, just for the aroma.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 09/24/21 14:40 by CPCoyote.



Date: 09/24/21 17:32
Re: mad dog chronicles #324. Bluxome alley
Author: WAF

According to Krebs when he worked as a switchman on that Bluxome job, he had a switch cover smash his foot, not knowing to stand so close to the open plate.



Date: 09/24/21 19:18
Re: mad dog chronicles #324. Bluxome alley
Author: PHall

WAF Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> According to Krebs when he worked as a switchman
> on that Bluxome job, he had a switch cover smash
> his foot, not knowing to stand so close to the
> open plate.

Sounds like one of those booboos you only do once!



Date: 09/25/21 09:20
Re: mad dog chronicles #324. Bluxome alley
Author: Trainhand

if you are of normal intelligence. I know one trainman/conductor that had a knuckle come out of the drawhead--no knuckle pin--and fall on the same foot twice. It broke it both times.


Sam



Date: 09/25/21 11:46
Re: mad dog chronicles #324. Bluxome alley
Author: WAF

PHall Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> WAF Wrote:
> --------------------------------------------------
> -----
> > According to Krebs when he worked as a
> switchman
> > on that Bluxome job, he had a switch cover
> smash
> > his foot, not knowing to stand so close to the
> > open plate.
>
> Sounds like one of those booboos you only do once!
He learned if you sue, you can kiss a career with SP goodbye



Date: 09/25/21 12:20
Re: mad dog chronicles #324. Bluxome alley
Author: PHall

WAF Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> PHall Wrote:
> --------------------------------------------------
> -----
> > WAF Wrote:
> >
> --------------------------------------------------
>
> > -----
> > > According to Krebs when he worked as a
> > switchman
> > > on that Bluxome job, he had a switch cover
> > smash
> > > his foot, not knowing to stand so close to
> the
> > > open plate.
> >
> > Sounds like one of those booboos you only do
> once!
> He learned if you sue, you can kiss a career with
> SP goodbye

Must have watching those "Law Offices of Larry H Parker" ads on TV.



Date: 09/25/21 12:51
Re: mad dog chronicles #324. Bluxome alley
Author: WAF

PHall Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> WAF Wrote:
> --------------------------------------------------
> -----
> > PHall Wrote:
> >
> --------------------------------------------------
>
> > -----
> > > WAF Wrote:
> > >
> >
> --------------------------------------------------
>
> >
> > > -----
> > > > According to Krebs when he worked as a
> > > switchman
> > > > on that Bluxome job, he had a switch cover
> > > smash
> > > > his foot, not knowing to stand so close to
> > the
> > > > open plate.
> > >
> > > Sounds like one of those booboos you only do
> > once!
> > He learned if you sue, you can kiss a career
> with
> > SP goodbye
>
> Must have watching those "Law Offices of Larry H
> Parker" ads on TV.

His dad knew Alan Furth, head legal beagle at the SP



Date: 09/26/21 16:56
Re: mad dog chronicles #324. Bluxome alley
Author: SanJoaquinEngr

WAF Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> PHall Wrote:
> --------------------------------------------------
> -----
> > WAF Wrote:
> >
> --------------------------------------------------
>
> > -----
> > > PHall Wrote:
> > >
> >
> --------------------------------------------------
>
> >
> > > -----
> > > > WAF Wrote:
> > > >
> > >
> >
> --------------------------------------------------
>
> >
> > >
> > > > -----
> > > > > According to Krebs when he worked as a
> > > > switchman
> > > > > on that Bluxome job, he had a switch
> cover
> > > > smash
> > > > > his foot, not knowing to stand so close
> to
> > > the
> > > > > open plate.
> > > >
> > > > Sounds like one of those booboos you only
> do
> > > once!
> > > He learned if you sue, you can kiss a career
> > with
> > > SP goodbye
> >
> > Must have watching those "Law Offices of Larry
> H
> > Parker" ads on TV.
>
> His dad knew Alan Furth, head legal beagle at the
> SP


Plus his next door neighbor was Uncle Ben Biaggini.

Posted from Android



Date: 09/28/21 00:29
Re: mad dog chronicles #324. Bluxome alley
Author: phthithu

I'd love to know the deets on how the job working the alley would get from their on-duty point to their cars to the alley and so forth. Was the lead into the alley via the trackage on Townsend Street and you'd have to come down from west of 7th St? Or was there a connection out of the passenger yard closer to the entrance to alley at what was called little 4th St?

Looking at the aerial mosaics from 1965 and 1974 there was some reworking done to the passenger yard between those years that might have resulted in the connection being changed. 

Thanks if you can advise!

I made the attached video using the trackmaps:San Francisco Railroads to show zone 6. Note that the red trackmap is based on the 1966 SPINS trackage. But the mosaic used in this video is from 1948 by Harrison Ryker, via davidrumsey.com, and it shows several tracks that were retired by 1966 and thus don't show in the trackmap layer.  

Anyone interested in a copy of the trackmaps download from Google Drive at following link. You need Google Earth for desktop to use:
https://drive.google.com/uc?id=1sRqRawRTmI-YK1tqfcL7uitHwFen_2ph&export=download  

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Date: 10/02/21 16:42
Re: mad dog chronicles #324. Bluxome alley
Author: tbdbitl

Nice job on the map video - never seen that done before. 

JWL



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