Oakland Long Wharf

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The Oakland Long Wharf, later known as the Oakland Pier or the SP Mole was a massive railroad wharf and ferry pier in Oakland, California. It was located at the foot of Seventh Street.

1885 map of Oakland and the CPRR's Long Wharf

The pier began as a smaller landing called Gibbon's Wharf extending from Gibbons Point, later renamed Oakland Point, westward into San Francisco Bay. In 1868 the Central Pacific Railroad acquired this pier which it renamed the Oakland Long Wharf and immediately began extending and improving. The CPRR floated freight to San Francisco starting in 1871. Part of the wharf was filled in between 1879 and 1882, creating a mole. Local commuter trains also used the pier, while trains of the Pacific Railroad (aka the "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 ferries carried both commuters and long distance passengers between the Long Wharf and San Francisco.

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 which was then used only for freight until being abandoned in 1919. After January 15, 1939 electric commuter trains no longer ran to the Oakland Pier but instead used tracks on the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge 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 burgeoning Port of Oakland's container ship facilities. Today, the only thing that remains of the SP Mole is the pier's switchman's tower which was moved and restored as part of Middle Harbor Shoreline Park.

The mole in its latter years can be seen at the beginning of the 1957 movie Pal Joey as Frank Sinatra's character makes his way to the ferry.

1889 engraving of the approach to the Oakland Ferry Mole

See also[edit]


  • "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′00″N 122°19′52″W / 37.80°N 122.3310°W / 37.80; -122.3310