SN 41st Shafter c1940

Sacramento Northern, No. 1008, 41st Street and Shafter Avenue (looking north), Temescal district, Oakland, Calif.

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Date of Document:
circa 1940

Document Author:
Paul Smith

Geographic Location:
41st Street and Shafter Avenue, Oakland, Calif.

Beginning in 1913, the Oakland, Antioch and Eastern Railway ran commuter and freight service from the Oakland ferry terminal to its depot and rail yard at Shafter Avenue and 40th Street, up Shafter Avenue, around Lake Temescal, into Montclair, through a tunnel at the top of Shepherd Canyon, into Contra Costa County, and on to Sacramento. In 1929, after a merger, the newly formed Sacramento Northern Railway included service beyond Sacramento to Chico, forming a route that was considered one of the longest electric interurban lines in the U.S. While countless commuters benefited from the Sacramento Northern, for many of those living along Shafter Avenue, the railroad, from the beginning, was a mixed blessing. Among residents concerns were noise, pollution, the danger to pedestrians (including children on their way to and from local schools), and depreciating property values. Regular passenger service ended in 1941; freight service, however, continued. In 1947, the Rockridge Improvement Club, which had begun to press the Oakland City Council to shut down the Sacramento Northern operation in North Oakland altogether, presented a petition purportedly signed by thousands of neighbors demanding the removal of the trains. The battle waged until 1957 when the owners of the Sacramento Northern, who themselves had been petitioning for over a decade to relocate the line to West Oakland, finally were granted their request. Before the year was out, the Sacramento Northern depot and rail yard were demolished, the rails along Shafter Avenue were torn up and sold for scrap, and the length of Shafter Avenue was repaved.

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