Oakland Long Wharf

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The Oakland Long Wharf, in 1878
The Oakland Long Wharf, in 1878
Oakland Mole sometime after 1919
Oakland Mole sometime after 1919
1885 map of Oakland and the CPRR's Long Wharf.

The Oakland Long Wharf was an 11,000-foot railroad wharf and ferry pier along the east shore of San Francisco Bay located at the foot of Seventh Street in West Oakland. The Oakland Long Wharf was built, beginning 1868, by the Central Pacific Railroad on what was previously Oakland Point. Beginning November 8, 1869, it served as the west coast terminus of the First transcontinental railroad. In the 1880s, Southern Pacific Railroad took over the CPRR and rebuilt the pier as the Oakland Mole and Pier.

Nearby railroad wharfs[edit]

In order from north to south, the other moles and wharfs along the Oakland shore have included:

1926 Key System map


The first use of the site for boats was in 1852, when Gibbons' Wharf was constructed at Gibbons' Point, westward into San Francisco Bay. In 1862, Gibbons' Point was renamed Oakland Point, and the wharf was first used as a ferry landing as part of the San Francisco and Oakland Railroad service. On November 8, 1869, it succeeded Alameda Terminal and became the western terminus of the First transcontinental railroad trains.[2]

Central Pacific[edit]

In 1868 the Central Pacific Railroad acquired this pier which it renamed the Oakland Long Wharf and immediately began extending and improving it, fully opening for business on January 16, 1871.[2] The first through train on the transcontinental route left Oakland on the morning of November 8, 1869, with the inaugural west bound arrival at the Oakland pier that evening.[3][4] Local commuter trains also used the pier, while trains of the Pacific Railroad (aka: "First Transcontinental Railroad") used another wharf in nearby Alameda for about two months in 1869 (September 6 - November 7), after which the Oakland Long Wharf became the western terminus of the Pacific Railroad as well. From there San Francisco Bay ferries carried both commuters and long distance passengers between the Long Wharf and San Francisco. The CPRR floated freight to San Francisco starting in 1871. Part of the wharf was filled in between 1879 and 1882, creating the Oakland Mole and Pier, which opened for traffic on January 22, 1882.[2] A large depot covered in corrugated iron and glass, and lit by electric lighting was constructed. It opened in February 1881.[5]

Approach to the Oakland Ferry Mole (1889)

Southern Pacific[edit]

The Central Pacific's operations were consolidated under the Southern Pacific in the 1880s, and in 1882 the Oakland Pier was opened about a half-mile east of the west end of the Long Wharf Mole, which was then used only for freight until being abandoned in 1919. Freight trains served docks just south of the train shed after the original was abandoned. The mole became one of the busiest piers in the United States. A huge stained-glass window of the SP logo was placed on the western end of the train shed in 1929. When the building was demolished, it was removed and put in storage. It is now at the California State Railroad Museum in Sacramento, California.

End of freight traffic[edit]

In 1919, freight traffic at the Long Wharf ceased,[2] and the common name became simply the "Oakland Mole".

Commuter trains[edit]

East Bay Moles in 1937

After January 15, 1939 the electric commuter trains of the East Bay Electric Lines no longer ran to the Oakland Pier but instead used tracks on the lower deck of the new San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge, running to the Transbay Terminal in San Francisco. Intercity passenger trains continued to run to Oakland Pier until 1958 when Southern Pacific ferry service from the Ferry Building in San Francisco to Oakland Pier was discontinued, replaced by buses over the Bay Bridge from Oakland's 16th Street Station.


Throughout the pier's existence, progressively greater portions of the bayshore tidelands were filled in. It was demolished in the 1960s to make way for an expansion of the growing container ship facilities of the Port of Oakland. The only structure that remains of the Oakland Long Wharf is the SP Mole's switchman's tower, which was restored and moved to Middle Harbor Shoreline Park.

In popular culture[edit]

The mole in its latter years can be seen at the beginning of the 1957 movie Pal Joey as Frank Sinatra's character arrives by train and makes his way to the ferry. It also appears in the 1952 noir film "Sudden Fear" starring Joan Crawford.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Western Pacific Mole".
  2. ^ a b c d "19. Historic American Buildings Survey Southern Pacific Railroad Coll. ASIATIC WHARF -- DESTROYED BY FIRE 1945 - Southern Pacific Mole & Pier, Seventh Street, Oakland, Alameda County, CA". Library of Congress, Washington, D.C. 20540 USA. Retrieved 2019-01-20.
  3. ^ History of Alameda County, v.2, p.670, published 1883 by M.W. Wood, Oakland, California
  4. ^ "Railroad celebration at Oakland". California digital newspaper collection. Daily Alta California, Volume 21, Number 7172, 9 November 1869. Retrieved 10 May 2019. New York and Oakland are bound together by ties strapped with iron.
  5. ^ History of Alameda County, v.2, p.631, published 1883 by M.W. Wood, Oakland, California


  • "A Long Wharf with a Massive Mole" from A Brief History of Oakland (1994) by Robert Douglass
  • "Southern Pacific's Western Division", John R. Signor, Signature Press, 2007
  • "Red Trains in the East Bay", Robert S. Ford, Interurban Press, 1977

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 37°48′36″N 122°19′34″W / 37.810°N 122.326°W / 37.810; -122.326