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The Fruitvale Avenue Railroad Bridge of Alameda, Calif.

August 29, 2009

The Fruitvale Avenue Railroad Bridge was built in 1951 by the Army Corps of Engineers, you can learn the entire history of the bridge, and also learn some fascinating information about how the bridge works and the unorthodox way it recieves electric power to operate. In addition to the views of the bridge I took a few months ago from the Alameda side of the bridge, check out these 3 aerial views, presumably taken by helicopter.

This bridge replaced the much older swing span that originally carried SP Interurban Electrics across the channel, as seen in this photo from my personal archive:

SP Interurban Electric Crossing Fruitvale Avenue Bridge towards Alameda in 1935
This is an SP Interurban Electric Crossing Fruitvale Avenue Bridge towards Alameda in 1935

Alameda Railroad Bridge

This Overall view is looking south-east towards the Oakland Airport and San Leandro. The adjacent Miller-Sweeney bascule-lift bridge (built 1971) carries automobile traffic on Fruitvale Avenue.

Fruitvale Avenue Railroad Bridge

Looking up to see the 175 foot high lift towers…

lift bridge counterweight

Sitting at 65 feet the span is left open, and the massive counterweight also sits in position midway up the tower, and slides up or down to counter the weight of the span when raised or lowered.

Base of the Fruitvale Ave. Bridge.

The pier pilings

Control Tower for both bridges..

The control tower that operates the Miller-Sweeny bridge also controls the Railroad Lift bridge.

Oakland Tower Side

A closeup shot of the far tower on the Oakland side.

The Southern Pacific's Alameda Railroad Connection.

The bridge never saw Interurban Electric traffic (that having been removed in 1937-1941) However it did see the occasional steam locomotive and 50 years of diesels, from 1951-2001. The Southern Pacific crossed on this bridge into Alameda to interchange with the Alameda Belt Line, and serve a handful of industries on the south side of Park Street. The Alameda Belt line was gone by 1998, when traffic at the naval base ended in the early 1990’s and the Del Monte Packing house closed its doors. In later years the Union Pacific handled the dwindling amount of traffic until the rails were pulled up on either side of the bridge sometime early in the 2000’s.

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4 Comments leave one →
  1. Dan W. permalink
    April 15, 2010 9:02 pm

    I just confirmed with Alameda Public Works, who confirmed with the Alameda County, that Miller-Sweeney ends in “N E Y”. Maybe you could fix the spelling in this post since Google it has such a high ranking in Google.

  2. greg lara permalink
    January 16, 2011 11:21 am

    I’m an Italian who grew up on in the Fruitvale District back in 1964, my grandfather used to take me fishing near this very bridge. I’ve seen it all, there are so many great stories from the time I spent growing up here, oh how I miss those days. I’m currently authoring a book about my childhood entitled “Jumping Fences” a first hand account of a kid growing up in Oakland during those turbulent times.

    [Editor: Rewritten comment to clean up and clarify, hope this doesn’t hurt.]

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