|ABC 7/KGO-TV Covers Trainmaster Building
June 21, 2007
The following is the transcript of a televised story broadcast on July 11. To see the video, go to http://abclocal.go.com/kgo/story?section=local&id=5388159.
Historical Richmond Railroad Line Has Deep Roots
KGO By Wayne Freedman
Jun.11 - KGO - If you've ever driven along the old railroad lines you may have noticed an even older worn-out building. It's been there for years, battered and neglected, and until recently its story was a mystery. But the building now has both a past and a future.
In old Point Richmond, trains set the rhythm -- from the first days of the transcontinental railroad, it has always been that way. You may not appreciate such facts when stopped and running late.
But these tracks, the stuff of heritage in a town that made its way as the end of the line.
ABC7's Wayne Freedman: "How far does this track go?"
Historian Tom Butt: "Chicago, at least."
According to historian Tom Butt, railroad history is everywhere around Richmond. In the old days, transcontinental trains rolled through this tunnel, out the other side, up the ramp and then loaded onto a ferry bound for San Francisco. But before doing so, they would have passed this building.
Tom Butt: "It looked like, in a word, Hell."
ABC7's Wayne Freedman: "And you still wanted to save it?"
Tom Butt: "Well it has good bones."
It is the oldest building in the yard, a place now known as the trainmasters building, a reading room.
The history of these reading rooms stretches all the way across the country, to any large city where the Santa Fe Railroad had a large number of employees. The strategy was very simple: High morals to keep them out of trouble.
Margaret Morkowski, Historian: "There were maybe twenty bars, a couple of houses of ill repute."
By the 1990's, most everyone had forgotten that. The old trainmasters building sat by the side of the road collecting dust, waiting for demolition. But the Point Richmond Gateway Foundation could not abide the loss of such a symbol. They talked the Burlington Santa Fe into giving them the building.
Margaret Morkowski, Historian: "It's the other part of Richmond. The part that most people don't look for or are afraid to see, and it's here, there's more here."
Last fall they moved it, a massive undertaking for this fragile, antique structure. They towed it beneath the highway, and parked it on a piece of city owned land in the center of town.
A few months from now, the old train masters building becomes a mini park and a bank.
Richmond Resident: "It ties in the history of the beginnings of Richmond."
A nice place for staying out of trouble once again, and not a bad place to wait out the trains.
Copyright 2007, ABC7/KGO-TV/DT.