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The mighty Union Pacific sneers at preservationists

1874 Central Pacific repair shop
1874 Central Pacific repair shop
Harry Wong

In an e-mail response to Paul LaCiura PE, the mighty Union Pacific continues to ignore preservation interests that want to save the last surviving structure from the Central Pacific Railroad. Rather than guard this important piece of history, the UPRR seeks to demolish it on virtually no notice.

Despite its designation as an Oakland Landmark in 2001, the railroad plans to use its federal rights, as an interstate carrier to trump state preservation rights. In other words, the railroad doesn’t give a damn what the locals might think. This attitude is glaringly reinforced in a letter from David M. Pickett, General Attorney Union Pacific to Paul LaCiura. Pickett states in his September 30 e-mail, “At this point, demolition plans have proceeded to such a point that the only items that are still reasonable to recover and donate would be individual bricks as souvenirs. Please reply to let me know if you are interested, and I will make arrangements for you to pick one up.”

The mighty Union Pacific sneeringly offers a brick, while it blithely proceeds with demolition. If the preservationist can act in time to obtain a Temporary Restraining Order, then the building will live for another day. The railroad can assert its federal rights and if it successfully does, then the issue would be parked at the Surface Transportation Board.

Oddly enough, the STB does not now regulate historic railroad buildings. However, if the railroad seeks to hide behind the STB’s federal authority, then that authority is conferred. The railroad cannot seek to hide behind federal laws where there is no process to adjust grievances. Yet the Union Pacific Railroad seems intent on that purpose.

Let’s not forget that this is an out-of-control huge corporation. Their last contribution for humanity was a lawsuit (that went nowhere) against toy train companies for “stealing” their Logo and applying it to toy trains. At the same time, this is the corporation that still operates historic steam trains and contributes to the rich railroad heritage of our country.

All the preservationists can hope for is that correct part of this bi-polar company will respond. In the meantime, we watch and learn.


  • Rail Fan 4 years ago

    Union Pacific is a great corporate citizen and the building is not structurally safe. I think it is nice that David Pickett took the time to respond in a timely manner to Paul.

  • Anonymous 4 years ago

    So, what's the truth?

  • speedstan 4 years ago

    Are the same people hacking on Union Pacific willing to pay for the property, pick up the tab for restoration of the building, and pay for damages the next time some ambulance-chasing shyster sues because some trespasser injured himself climbing about somewhere where he didn't belong? Or are they of the typical liberal school of thought that anything they want should be done, with somebody else footing the bill? I'm as big of a railfan and history buff as anyone, but I'm realistic to know that there are trade-offs in the real world, and not every interesting locomotive, building, or other man-made structure can be preserved. That's why we have things such as cameras and video recorders to document and record what's here today, in case it's not there tomorrow...

  • Anonymous 4 years ago

    Anyone looked into getting the doors, windows and a photo documentation and let them tear it down. The architectural salvage can be used for displays or a recreation elsewhere.

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