Tag Archives: #Oakland

Amtrak’s ‘Pepsi Cans’ on the Street

General Electric P32BWH

In 1991, Amtrak acquired twenty General Electric DASH 8-32BWH (Amtrak calls this model P32BH), a model were based on Santa Fe’s contemporary 500-series GE’s (built a year earlier).

As-built, Amtrak’s DASH 8-32BWH locomotives featured a novel modern paint scheme, which some observers compared to the coloration used by Pepsi on its 12-ounce aluminum cola cans, and so these were unofficially known as “Pepsi Cans.” In the early 1990s, they were often assigned in pairs to Amtrak’s West Coast services.

On February 7, 1994, I caught a pair of ‘Pepsi Cans’ leading the LA-bound Coast Starlight on Southern Pacific’s street trackage at Jack London Square in Oakland, California.

I exposed this Kodachrome 25 slide using my Nikon F3T with 28mm Nikkor wideangle lens. This image has been published several times, including as an illustration in Passenger Train Journal issue 197 that came out in the mid-1990s.

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Amtrak at Oakland

On an afternoon in August 2009, I stood atop a parking garage near Jack London Square in Oakland, California where I made this view featuring an Amtrak Capitols train against a backdrop of the city’s sprawling port facilities.

I was working with a Canon EOS3 fitted with a 100-400mm zoom lens to expose a Fujichrome slide. This was several months before buying my first digital camera.

During my five week stay in California that year I exposed more than 80 rolls of color slide film. Many of my photos featured scenes around San Francisco Bay. At the time I envisioned writing a book on San Francisco, but I didn’t get sufficient interest from my publishers at the time to move that proposal forward.

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Union Pacific at 3rd Street in West Oakland, California.

Here’s a gem from my black & white archive.

Working with my Leica M2 with 50mm Summicron lens, I exposed this image on 35mm Kodak Tri-X black & white film. I processed this in Edwall FG7, which allowed for richer tonality than D76 (my more typical developer of the time).

In April 1991, this was a common scene in West Oakland, California, before Union Pacific bought Southern Pacific, the railroad accessed the region via the former Western Pacific. WP route reached the Oakland yards via street trackage on 3rd Street (which ran parallel to SP’s street trackage on Embarcedero via Jack London Square, two blocks to the south).

It was the era before ditch lights were common equipment on UP locomotives. This freight is westbound.

When I revisited Oakland in 2008, I found little trace of the 3rd street trackage, with all moves now concentrated on the former SP line through Jack London Sq.

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