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Union Pacific Railroad Plans to demolish last survivng building of the Central Pacific Railroad

1874 CPRR Paint Shop
1874 CPRR Paint Shop
Harry Wong

Union Pacific Railroad intends to demolish last bit of transcontinental history

Because it “lives” in legal limbo, the Union Pacific Railroad can legally demolish an Oakland Landmark building, one constructed in 1874, shortly after the completion of the 1869 Transcontinental Railroad. The building was declared an Oakland Landmark in 2001. But that will not save this un-reinforced brick building from demolition.

The railroad claims superior rights under the federal Surface Transportation Board that trumps states rights to historic preservation. That’s a clouded claim. There is no forum in the Surface Transportation Board (yes, it’s the Surf Board for short) for historic preservation of buildings.

The railroad can either acquiesce to local preservation laws or assert its federal rights and then find itself forever bound to whatever decisions the Surf Board might find. For the railroad, no decision is palatable. Everyone’s best guess is that they will demolish it and the railroad hopes the issue goes away.

The issue will not go away. The railroad can destroy an 1874 brick structure and it’s gone for good. But their legal right to do such damage will be questioned by preservationists. You can still see this brick building in the UPRR switching yards from I-880 or from BART. For the next couple of days.


  • Anonymous 4 years ago

    The article is factually incorrect. Parts of the historic Southern Pacific shops in Sacramento date from 1869, earlier than this building. Having said that, this shop should certainly be preserved. UP is dead wrong here, and their reputation will continue to suffer among an important constituency.

  • Alvin in AZ 4 years ago

    Buy the building and/or the Union Pacific if you want it preserved so dangged much! :/

    Yes I'd like to see the UP save 'em but I have to agree with their decision since I'm not
    privy to all the information they are on the subject. Also I'm sure those that want UP to
    "do it all" would be quick to sue the UP if it fell and killed somebody in your family too.

    I'm a retired SP Signalman that worked in some of the buildings you are talking about.

  • Anonymous 3 years ago

    There is a way to get the railroads attention and persuade them to listen in this matter and that is to contact their shipping clients and explain the concern to them, if you are able to convince them to join in the saving of this building they could get the railroad to listen with the suggestion that they shift some of their freight to trucks. Once you have jingled the purse of the big guys you suddenly have their attention,

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