While many Montclair homeowners travel to San Francisco by car and BART today, they had another option just under a century ago--The Sacramento Northern Railway (SNR).  Beginning in 1928, the SNR provided service for both passengers and freight, going from San Francisco through Emeryville and Oakland, and then through Montclair, and on into Contra Costa County. Montclair residents can conduct their own mystery tour throughout the area to locate the actual path of the train through the village.  Clues are still visible in some areas.  The first clue is what is called "Shore Line Pocket Part" at Thornhill and Moraga.  To get there, the line passed by Lake Temescal, came along what is now Highway 13, and crossed the impressive trestle built at that point. One can still see where it continued behind the Montclair Fire Station. Travelling through Montclair, it crossed another trestle  at Mountain Boulevard and Snake, and there to your second clue, where it went up Shepherd Canyon, and through a tunnel just below Saroni Drive.  This tunnel then took passengers on through to Moraga, Walnut Creek, and eastwards.  Ultimately, passengers could, if they needed to, continue on to Sacramento, and from their to destinations elsewhere in the U.S..    

After a long history of service, the passenger line was closed in 1941, and finally the freight service in 1957.  All the equipment was removed, as were the trestles and train lines.  Due to landslides over the years, the tunnel to Contra Costa (which were sealed) are no longer visible.  All is not gone completely.  Your third clue is a pedestrian bridge which was created were the Snake Road trestle once existed.  The line's expansive former right of way through Shepherd Canyon now sports a lovely bike, hike and walking opportunity for residents and visitors. 

Posted by Bruce Wagg on


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