Monday, February 28, 2011

Union Pacific at the Port - Part 1

Land transportation is just as critical to a port's success as its waterways are, and one of the most common methods of shipping goods to and from the Port of Long Beach is by train. Now, mile-long trains have containers stacked two-high, but the history of rail transport and the Port of Long Beach goes back years before containerization to the earliest days of the harbor.

The Union Pacific Railroad Museum, located in Council Bluffs, Iowa, has kindly provided us with a selection of great photos of the port and Long Beach, mostly centering on the operations of UP and Pacific Electric, the old "Red Car" service.

We'll feature a couple of photos here now and again, plus you can look at all the photos here.

At the top, workers on Union Pacific equipment drop in the first rocks for the Long Beach Breakwater in the summer of 1925. This first breakwater jutted out from the western side of the mouth of the Los Angeles River and protected the entrance to the Port's main channel.

Below, two shots show how rail was integrated into the docks right from the beginning. The aerial shot shows UP train tracks running up to berths at the Port of Los Angeles in 1925 or 1926. Below that, a 1960 photo shows a closer view of rails and cars on a pier at the Port of Long Beach.

Rail is even more important today; the Alameda Corridor, which opened in 2002, moves containers to go by rail to yards near downtown Los Angeles, minimizing traffic impacts by eliminating road crossings. On-dock rail also helps reduce pollution by reducing truck trips to and from the Port.

Part 2 of this post will feature a detailed history of the Union Pacific's early involvement with the Port of Long Beach.

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