Bayshore Roundhouse - Main Page

Built in the early 1900's, Brisbane's brick roundhouse has many stories to tell. It and the surrounding yard were constructed as part of the Bayshore Cutoff, an ambitious plan to reroute the Southern Pacific Railroad's entry into San Francisco. It served to stable the steam-powered freight engines used on the peninsula. Locomotives required constant maintenance, and most of this work took place in roundhouses. Engines were serviced, and kept warm in such places between runs. Additional shops were later built to perform heavy maintenance on locomotives, passenger cars, tenders, and all other manner of railroad equipment.

While the Mission Bay Roundhouse in San Francisco handled passenger train engines close to the railroad's South of Market terminal, Bayshore was the point where longer, heavier freight engines were hostled and serviced. A four story high erecting hall was built for heavy repairs, and a transfer table was installed to move equipment between repair bays and the new tender/ and boiler shop across from it. Bayshore's facilities grew to include a massive freight yard, scale tracks, shop and store buildings, and an employee hospital. Also, an icing facility for produce-carrying boxcars was built a mile to the south. Bayshore was a complete industrialized facility and employed hundred of people on a daily basis. Goods and produce shipped worldwide passed through Bayshore, shaping many lives and economies until the decline of freight railroads and the closing of the Bayshore yards in the 1980's.

Diesel engines require considerably less maintenance than steam engines, and steam-facilities such as roundhouses were largely obsolete by the late 1950s with the end of steam. The railroad still continued to use the Bayshore roundhouse for another 25 years, but the facility began to suffer from neglect and age. Completely abandoned in 1982, the Bayshore rails were taken up, and most remaining buildings torn down. The erecting building and car shops were already gone, and the transfer pit was only recognizable by a berm of debris.

Despite these losses, several significant buildings have endured. The tender & tank building survived and is currently used by Lazzari Fuel, makers of seasoned cooking charcoal. The icehouse to the south supports Machinery and Equipment Company of Brisbane, and of course, much of the original roundhouse and turntable pit survives as well. A fire in 2001 took away half the remaining roof of the roundhouse, but the brickwork is mostly intact, the doors that remain hanging at odd angles from their hinges. Yet despite the condition, the city and landowners recognize the significance of the building and its site.

San Francisco Trains is working with the landowner and the Community of Brisbane to develop preservation plans as the redevelopment of Brisbane Baylands begins.

Current Preservation News
Recent news, related links, and more!

The Early Years - 1910 to 1920
Construction photos and more.

Heavy Steam Years - 1920s, 1930s and 1940s
Photographs and turntable details.

Diesels Arrive - 1950s and 1960s
Steam and Diesels share the stalls.
[Page Under Construction.]

The Twilight Years - 1970s & 1980s
Less freight, repair shops close. A shadow of its former self, the roundhouse is closed.

Abandoned and Burnt - the 2000s
The historic jewel is fading into history.

Bayshore Workers
See the people that brought the Shops to life.

Roundhouse Flyer
View or Print (on Legal Paper) our Roundhouse Flyer.
3.2MB / PDF

Roundhouse Maps
See where the tracks used to go.

Roundhouse Details
Details and close up photos.

Links about the Shops and Roundhouse