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Follow the Big Reds Through Alameda

The Southern Pacific Railroad’s East Bay Electric lines, which riders dubbed “the Big Reds,” began running in Alameda in 1911, five long years after the devastating 1906 earthquake. [See Disaster Breeds Wonder.] This map shows the routes the trains took before they began running over the Bay Bridge on September 15, 1939. The system used the High Street South station at High Street and Encinal Avenue as the lines’ starting and ending points.

Alameda Post - Map of the Big Reds in Alameda

Alameda Post - Southern Pacific Railroad Ferry and Electric Train ServiceThe Encinal Avenue Line, started at the High Street South station (A), ran west on Encinal and Central avenues (B) to Main Street (C) where it ran north to the Southern Pacific right-of-way along the Estuary to the Alameda Pier (D). When the Encinal Avenue Line arrived back at High Street from the Alameda Pier, it became a westbound Lincoln Avenue Line.

The Lincoln Avenue Line also started at the High Street South station (A). This line ran north along Fernside Boulevard then west on a Southern Pacific right- of-way near Pearl Street to the Alameda train station at Park Street and Lincoln Avenue (E). It then ran westbound on Lincoln Avenue to Fifth Street (F), where it turned northeast on a Southern Pacific right-of-way (Marshall Way) to Fourth Street (G), it turned west along Pacific Avenue to Main Street (C) and traveled north to the Southern Pacific right-of-way along the Estuary to the Alameda Pier (D). When the Lincoln Avenue Line arrived back at High Street from the Alameda Pier it became a westbound Encinal Avenue line.

In 1938, the Interurban Electric Railway took over and assigned numbers to all the Red Cars in its new system. The Encinal Avenue Line became Line #4, the Lincoln Avenue Line became Line #6.



Join award-winning historian Dennis Evanosky this Saturday, July 23 at 10 a.m. Tickets are $15 in advance. Meet at the fountain at the intersection of High Street and Encinal Avenue. Over a 90-minute walk, Dennis will describe how the Southern Pacific Railroad recovered from the 1906 earthquake to present the East Bay with a world-class transportation system that featured the famous “Big Reds.”

Dennis Evanosky is the award-winning Historian of the Alameda Post. Reach him at [email protected]. His writing is collected at AlamedaPost.com/Dennis-Evanosky.

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