“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Oakland in Alameda County, California — The American West (Pacific Coastal)

Oakland Rails

Oakland Rails Marker image. Click for full size.
By Barry Swackhamer, January 9, 2014
1. Oakland Rails Marker
Captions: Shipping on the Long Wharf, about 1900 (top); Off-duty porters, about 1915 (middle); C.L. Dellums at age 75 (bottom).
Railroad Heritage

The opening of the transcontinental railroad in 1869 reduced travel time between the East and West Coats from as much as four months by sea to just six days. The Central Pacific made Oakland its western terminus. In 1871, the railroad completed the two-mile-long Long Wharf off the city’s western shoreline, where the trains and ocean-going cargo ships. The railroad stimulated Oakland’s rapid growth as a shipping and population center, giving birth to the modern city.

Sleeping Car Porters
Among the most respected members of Oakland’s African American community were the Pullman Porters, uniformed attendants who staffed the railroad’s luxurious Pullman Sleeping Cars. The Porters provided professional and courteous service on the overland routes. The works was hard, shifts were long, and the pay was low – but the employment was steady. Widely traveled, educated, and knowledgeable, the Porters were esteemed within the community.
In 1925, the Pullman Porters formed a union and began fighting for higher wages and shorter hours. The Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters – the first African American labor union in the United States – was in the vanguard of the national struggle for equality and civil rights. It also contributed to the rise of the black middle class.
Oakland Rails Marker image. Click for full size.
By Barry Swackhamer, January 9, 2014
2. Oakland Rails Marker
In 1937, the union was recognized by the Pullman Company.
Oakland resident Cottrell Laurence Dellums (1900-1989), a Pullman Porter, was a leader in organizing the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters. Though he was fired for his union activities, he persisted and eventually served as the Union’s West Coast president. He also achieved prominence as an advocate of civil rights and fair employment practices at the federal, state, and local levels. In 1995, Oakland’s new Amtrak station was named in his honor.
Location. 37° 47.642′ N, 122° 16.306′ W. Marker is in Oakland, California, in Alameda County. Marker is on Second Street near Alice Street, on the right when traveling east. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 245 Second Street, Oakland CA 94607, United States of America.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. C. L. Dellums (a few steps from this marker); Heinolds’ First and Last Chance Saloon (approx. 0.2 miles away); Jack London (approx. 0.2 miles away); Jack London’s Cabin (approx. 0.2 miles away); Jack London Square Development (approx. 0.2 miles away); Oakland Railroad History (approx. ¼ mile away); Pony Express Ferry "Oakland" (approx. 0.3 miles away); Live Oak Lodge U.D (approx. 0.3 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Oakland.
More about this marker. The marker is in the plaza beside the Dellums Amtrak Station.
Categories. African AmericansLabor UnionsRailroads & Streetcars
Credits. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016. This page originally submitted on January 16, 2014, by Barry Swackhamer of San Jose, California. This page has been viewed 485 times since then and 40 times this year. Photos:   1, 2. submitted on January 16, 2014, by Barry Swackhamer of San Jose, California. • Bill Pfingsten was the editor who published this page.
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