9 November / TracyRail / Comments Off on Chronicling The Old Southern Pacific Tracy-Altamont Right-of-Way
The original right-of-way leading into Tracy from the Bay Area via the Altamont Pass was built back in 1873 by the Central Pacific as part of the Transcontinental Railroad linking California with the East Coast.
Trains traveled in and out of Tracy from the railyards near downtown, along old Schulte Road through the original site of the Ellis coaling station, then curving up toward the foothills to Midway and Cayley, then on to the summit at Altamont.
Denise Ellen Rizzo reported in last week’s edition of the Tracy Press that an effort is being made to convince officials to build an Altamont Corridor Express (ACE) train station to better serve residents in the Mountain House area.
A petition has been started on Change.org by Robi Thomas, a Mountain House resident, to bring the proposal to ACE officials.
The plan would call for ACE to “add a station near Patterson Pass Road, where Mountain House Parkway meets the train tracks,” according to the petition.
(This may be problematic, as those tracks are part of the old, unusable Southern Pacific mainline over the Altamont; the line is torn up about a mile up the tracks at the Alameda County line, and ACE trains don’t run on those rails.)
The pin on the Google Map above denotes the proposed location for a Mountain House ACE station. The problem? No trains, let alone ACE trains, can run on those tracks.
Thomas told the Tracy Press, “I got the impression [that ACE] officials are convinced there are not enough riders from Mountain House. The next step is to show actual riders. The numbers are there.”
For decades, oil from Kern County was transported by rail in tank cars (appropriately dubbed “oil cans”) to this Associated Oil storage facility in Tracy, which served as a way station as the oil traveled to Port Costa. The tracks heading to the right are part of the Mococo Line, which is now a seldom-used single track that extends up through Byron and Brentwood into Antioch and Pittsburg. In the distance just right of center in the photograph is an oil reservoir (also known as the “Gravel Pit”), which was located approximately where Alden Park is today.
All that currently remains of this facility today is a group of hillocks at the corner of Tracy Blvd. and Beechnut Avenue, across from the city’s corporation yard.
Contaminated soil in the area led to a landmark court case, Cose v. Getty Oil Co., over who was responsible for waste from the tanks that had seeped into the soil surrounding the “Gravel Pit.”
ABOVE: An excerpt from a 1955 USGS map of Tracy, showing the tank farm area. Note that the current Tracy Boulevard, previously known as Oil Road, did not extend across the tracks here at this time.
ABOVE: A Google Earth aerial view of the Tank Farm area as it appeared in 2013. Tracy Blvd. curves from top to bottom at right, with Alden Park in the lower left corner.
ABOVE: A typical Associated Oil tank car. The San Francisco-based company used “Tidewater” and “Flying A” as brand names.