Railfanning around San Francisco?

Discussion in 'The Real Thing- North America' started by nolatron, Mar 26, 2007.

  1. nolatron

    nolatron Member

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    Next Sunday I'm traveling to Palo Alto, CA but flying into San Francisco. I'll probably have about 6-8 hours of daylight and thinking of maybe doing some railfanning if there's a real busy area nearby.

    anybody know of some good hot spots where I could catch a couple trains within a 3 hour time span perhaps?

    I know there's the metro lines but looking for some freight action by UP/BNSF/etc...
  2. jetrock

    jetrock Member

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    There really isn't any of that left in San Francisco. If you like old streetcars you can catch the PCCs, Peter Witts and other old cars on the Market Street F-line, but other than Caltrain I don't think there is much in the way of freight rail left in the city of San Francisco. Even the old equipment stored at Hunter's Point has been shipped off to various places: the Navy wanted the space back.

    SFO is 13 miles south of San Francisco proper, so you'll have to drive north into San Francisco and then back south to Palo Alto. This might take a while.
  3. nolatron

    nolatron Member

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    Yeah, looks like I would have to hope over the bay to the East side or down to San Jose/Santa Clara where it looks like there's at least a UP line running in the area (at least on this old map :) )

    My hotel looks to be close to the Caltrain line so maybe I'll check that out if there's a station nearby or a convenient watching point.
  4. MilesWestern

    MilesWestern Active Member

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    Don't Just Railfan, RIDE it. The Caltrain maybe takes 15 minutes to get into the city, and It's worth it.
  5. nolatron

    nolatron Member

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    I rode the Caltrain train from San Jose to San Francisco back in 2003. it was about 2 hour ride but pretty cool. Need to catch the express next time :)
  6. jetrock

    jetrock Member

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    If you have a full 8 hours, and are willing to take a ride, take BART from the airport to the Richmond/Amtrak station, take the Amtrak Capitol Corridor train to Sacramento (which takes around 90 minutes), walk two blocks from the Amtrak station to the California State Railroad Museum, spend a few hours there and have lunch in Old Sac, then hop back on Amtrak back to Richmond and BART back into SFO...not sure how one would tie Palo Alto to this route, but it's a thought. The best part is that the trip on the Amtrak Cal-P line is a railfan experience in itself: industrial parts of the East Bay, tank farms with rail connections around Martinez, some fantastic structure modeling ideas at the C&H sugar mill (talk about your great weathering jobs!), the big auto receiving yard (with rail connections) and then half a dozen old Southern Pacific stations (some in use, some not) on the way back to Sacramento. Bring your camera!
  7. Russ Bellinis

    Russ Bellinis Active Member

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    I haven't lived in the Bay area since before the BART was built, but I think you can transfer from the BART in San Fran to the commuter line running down the peninsula.
  8. Torpedo

    Torpedo Member

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    Bay Area Ridiculous Transit

    The LAST time I rode BART (notice the emphasis on LAST), it was from Concord to San Francisco. We proceeded at a blistering 25 mph all the way from Concord to Oakland. Seems they were having computer troubles, and that was the manual control speed limit.

    Never again. :curse:
  9. jetrock

    jetrock Member

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    Russ Bellinis: That would make the most sense--take Amtrak to Richmond, Bart to Caltrain, and Caltrain to Palo Alto. Kind of a lot of time on the train, admittedly...but maybe that's okay. I suppose you could also take Amtrak to Emeryville, then the Amtrak bus to San Francisco (included in the ticket price) and take Muni to Caltrain, which might be the more scenic alternative vs. taking BART under the city (and the cool industrial stuff to photograph near the tracks in Berkeley.)

    I haven't been on BART in about fourteen years. The Capitols have something like 95-99% on-time rates.
  10. Torpedo

    Torpedo Member

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    Well, if I had six to eight hours to kill on a Sunday in Palo Alto, I would be heading here to ride behind a shay. :thumb:

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]


    You will have a rental car, won't you? :D
  11. jetrock

    jetrock Member

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    okay, this is true...a bit more convenient from the South Bay.
  12. Torpedo

    Torpedo Member

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    Google Earth says 44 miles, Palo Alto to Felton. I figure about an hour to get there, maybe a tad more. Coming back would depend on how much beach traffic there is out of Santa Cruz this time of year.
  13. jetrock

    jetrock Member

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    Sounds a lot more feasible...I just plain don't do the South Bay at all--other than Berkeley and SF itself I'm pretty much lost in the Bay Area. Which might be disaster waiting to happen, as I'm going to be out in Livermore for the WPRRHS meet in a couple of weeks!
  14. Russ Bellinis

    Russ Bellinis Active Member

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    I think there is also commuter traffic on 17 between San Jose and Santa Cruz.
  15. Torpedo

    Torpedo Member

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    Nolatron was looking for suggestions for Sunday, so commuter traffic should not be an issue.