From the April 2003 The Ferroequinologist

Oakland Terminal Railway

Oakland Terminal Railway Baldwin DS-4-41000 No. 101 marches down the streets of Oakland with a long string of cars in this action photo by Jim Shaw. Built in 1948 for the OTRy, the classic Baldwin was donated to the Pacific Locomotive Association of Niles Canyon Railway fame.  

The Oakland Terminal Railway is a little known switching line operating in the backwaters of the Bay Area in relative obscurity in West Oakland. The Oakland Terminal Railway was the freight switching operation of the old Key System, which operated the streetcar lines in the East Bay and provided transportation between the East Bay and San Francisco. The Western Pacific and the Santa Fe acquired the company jointly in 1943.

Oakland Terminal Railway had a direct connection with Santa Fe near the Southern Pacific 16th Street Station in Oakland. Connections with the Western Pacific were made via trackage rights over the Key System from Emeryville to the Sacramento Northern terminal at 40th and Shafter streets in Oakland. Sacramento Northern's electric freight motors were used between Emeryville and 40th and Shafter streets and along electrified portions of OT. Electric switching operations were discontinued on May 1, 1955 when leased SN freight motors 440 and 442 were returned to SN.

Oakland Terminal operated one steam locomotive to handle switching duties along the non-electrified portions of the railroad, including the Oakland Army Base. Oakland Terminal 2-6-2 No.4 was built by Baldwin in 1923 for Mt. Shasta Power as their No.4. In October 1943, OT No.4 was sold to Santa Fe and numbered 2447. In August 1944 it was sold to Modesto & Empire Traction Company and renumbered M&ET 9. The locomotive was sold for scrap in April 1952.

In 1948 OT purchased its first diesel, Baldwin DS-44-1000 No.101. In February 1970 the road purchased Tidewater Southern Alco S-1 No. 744, ex-WP No. 554, and renumbered the unit OT No.102. This unit proved underpowered and was retired in February 1974. Baldwin No. 101 was donated to the Pacific Locomotive Association and today OT operates 1500 h.p. GP7 No. 97 and leased GP9R 5623, which is painted and lettered in its original SP black widow paint scheme.

In 1957 a new connection was built on Union Street in Oakland to connect with the Western Pacific near Magnolia Tower. This allowed abandonment of the SN line between 40th and Shafter and Lafayette. Today the Oakland Terminal Railway is jointly owned by Union Pacific and Burlington Northern Santa Fe and operates 10 miles. In 1998 the railroad handled about 1,559 cars.

Operated as an arm of the Key System, Oakland Terminal Railroad Company operated both electric freight motors and steam power to handle freight customers. No.4, a 2-6-2 built in 1923 for Mt. Shasta Power, was acquired by OT and is pictured at Emeryville in the 1930s. (Ray Whitaker collection)

Oakland Terminal 101 was donated to the Pacific Locomotive Association and is seen here  5/15/93 on display at the Oakland Army Base. (Ken Rattenne)