Southern Pacific Railroad in San Francisco

The first railroad to reach San Francisco by land was the San Francisco and San Jose Railroad. It was acquired by the Southern Pacific in 1901. The route up the peninsula broke west and took the 'high road' around San Bruno Mountain to San Francisco--the route that BART follows today, but without the benefit of the tunnel between Glen Park and the Mission. If you look at the "Bernal Cut" or San Jose Avenue where MUNI travels today, you can see the path that was excavated for that railroad. That line went though the Mission and finally to 3rd and Townsend. The SP's freight operations were concentrated near the current site of the SF Giants Ballpark. After the Bayshore route was built this area expanded to become 'Mission Bay' and freight cars would be exchanged with the State Belt Railroad.

The north end of the Coast Division, passenger trains frequented the city. These included the Coast Starlight and Daylights and lark to Los Angeles, the Suntan Special ran to Santa Cruz beach on the weekends. The Sunset ran from San Francisco to New Orleans, and the Del Monte ran to Monterey.

Freight railroad on the SP route declined, then nearly disappeared at the beginning of container shipment. The four tunnels in San Francisco are not tall enough to support double stack containers, so the ships and railroad began to meet at the Port of Oakland. Depending on traffic destinations East Bay terminals could save up to 100 miles of railroading down the peninsula and back up the East Bay.

The SP's headquarters were at One Market Street, and the company ran ferries across the bay for commuters. SP passenger trains would never reach the ferry building at the foot of Market Street. Ferry passengers would transfer to the Market Street Railway much same way the get on MUNI today. Today a MUNI trolley line stops next to Caltrain.

Regardless of the decline, San Francisco was the headquarters’ of this once giant railroad, the center of it's the names of the "Big Four" founders etched into history: Stanford University, The Mark Hopkins Intercontinental Hotel, The Huntington Hotel, the Crocker Galleria.