Tag: California

Union Pacific “Mothball Fleet” In Tracy

A recent downturn in railroad revenues has turned the once-busy Union Pacific Railroad yard in Tracy into a pasture of sorts.

The UP’s yard here, which extends east from the Eleventh Street overpass downtown nearly to the town of Banta, has become the “rest home” for about 85 of the railroad’s locomotives that have been put out to pasture, stored here in hopes of a future rebound in freight shipments via rail.

The yard was constructed by the Southern Pacific and opened in the early 1960s, replacing the original SP yard downtown. Now Union Pacific property, the yard has been significantly less busy over the past two decades.

UP Stored Locomotives at Tracy (Photo)

The “mothball fleet,” which had previously been stored at the UP’s Stockton yard, comprises an impressive single-file line of engines in the railroad’s signature Armour Yellow paint visible at the stub end of Chrisman Road behind the various warehouses a few blocks off of Grant Line Road. Though partially obscured by parked freight cars, the locomotives can also be seen along Brichetto Road near Banta Road.

By most estimates, the stored units are not run of the mill outmoded “antiques” awaiting the scrapper’s torch. Many of the SD60M engines spotted in the yard date from around 1990, while the SD70M units in storage here were delivered to the Union Pacific in the early 2000s, according to a roster published by Trains magazine.

The locomotives arrived over the final weeks of August in a couple of moves from Stockton and will be held here indefinitely, pending an upturn in the railroad-related economy.

UP Stored Locomotives at Tracy (Photo)

We have also heard from various sources that the Union Pacific will no longer have locomotives assigned to active duty at the railroad’s Tracy yard office at the end of Sixth Street near MacArthur. Any freight moves in Tracy will reportedly be dispatched out of Stockton or Roseville.

(The California Northern Railroad, which leases the UP’s Westside Line down the San Joaquin Valley south from Tracy – its tracks mostly follow alongside Highway 33 – continues to park a locomotive tandem adjacent to the UP yard office for its weekday runs to their produce and agrichemical customers up and down the Valley.)

UP Stored Locomotives at Tracy (Photo)

Stored Union Pacific locomotives in the east end of the Tracy yard, near Banta and Brichetto Roads, on August 27, 2019

 

– Photos and text by David Jackson.

Railroad Crossing Sign (Image)

RAILTOWN TRACY

Mileposts: Bethany (MP 75.7)

The village of Bethany could, once upon a time, be found along the Southern Pacific Railroad’s Martinez-to-Tracy extension, just a few miles outside the latter city’s limits.

These days, few signs remain of Bethany: an old farm road that ends near the tracks is perhaps the most significant remnant. (A reservoir in the nearby Livermore Hills is named for the town, but is several miles distant.)

The Central Pacific Railroad built a depot at Bethany around 1878 along the extension, which was constructed as the San Pablo & Tulare Railroad; in the early Twentieth Century, this section of tracks appeared on USGS maps – including the one below from 1914 – as the Southern Pacific’s “San Francisco and New Orleans Line.”

Today, it is known to railheads as the “Mococo Line.” It was the construction of this extension that led directly to the birth of Tracy at the end of the 1870s.

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Alameda & San Joaquin Railroad

(This article is a perpetual work in progress.)

If you’ve taken a load of trash to the dumps here in Tracy, you can’t avoid the solid bump of crossing what appears to be an abandoned set of railroad tracks protected by mute crossbuck warning signs a hundred or so feet down MacArthur Drive south of Linne Road.

The tracks are seldom used but are not entirely abandoned these days. Occasionally — very occasionally — the Union Pacific will spot a couple of freight cars loaded with steel coils there, alongside the Calaveras Materials rock grinders and the Teichert Aggregates entry gate on MacArthur.

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Jack Godwin, Carbona Station Agent

Jack Godwin served as station agent at the Western Pacific Railroad’s Carbona depot from 1954 until his death in 1974. Ten years after he arrived, wife and children in tow, the WP renamed the stop “Tracy” on their timetables, as well as on the station’s roof-top nameboard.

The Ted Benson photo featured above shows Jack in a classic railroader’s pose, fingers on the telegrapher’s key, carrying on a conversation with his colleagues down the line in well-timed dots and dashes.

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Tracy Yard Improvement Program Near Completion (1961)

Back in May 1961, the Southern Pacific Railroad began moving the first of hundreds of railcars to the “other side” of the Eleventh Street overpass in Tracy, marking the shut-down of operations in the city’s downtown area — ending nearly a hundred years in the sprawling facility that included a passenger depot, two roundhouses, numerous water tanks and freight docks in the “Bowtie.”

SP Tracy Yard Opens (Elroy Pope Photo, May 1961)The June-July 1961 edition of the railroad’s employee magazine, The SP Bulletin, featured a two-page article on the move, including photographs of the new yard being filled on Day One (May 16, 1961) and Tracy yardmaster Elroy Pope controlling operations from his perch in the new tower overlooking the rails, which covered (then and now) the territory from the Eleventh Street overpass all the way to Banta Road.

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Renaming One Of Tracy’s Three Schulte Roads

Tracy has three roads named Schulte Road. You know — if you come into town off 580 at Patterson Pass Road, then drive past the big Costco and Safeway warehouses, you are on Schulte Road, which dead-ends at Lammers Road.

But if you turn right onto Lammers, just before the train tracks you can make a left turn onto … Schulte Road.

If you drive to the end of that version of Schulte Road, which bottoms out at Corral Hollow Road, you can hook a quick, awkward and sometimes dangerous U-turn around the tracks, then drive a couple of blocks to the next signal light which is, of course … Schulte Road. Why wouldn’t it be?

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Mileposts: The Carbona Curve

If you live in Tracy or its outskirts, you’re undoubtedly familiar with the names of the several villages that rest at the city’s edges. You know, places like Tesla, Carbona, Banta, Lyoth, Kerlinger, Ludwig, and Rhodes.

Wait. You’re not familiar with all those names? Well, sure, Banta is fairly well known — there’s still something there — but what about Carbona?

You may actually drive past the “Carbona Curve” on occasion and not know that it’s there. In fact, if you ride an ACE train through Tracy to or from points east (such as Stockton or Manteca), then you’ve rolled through Carbona.

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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.

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ACE Train Service To Mountain House?

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.

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