National Register of Historic Places in San Mateo County

National Register #10000113: Southern Pacific Roundhouse in Brisbane 29 December 2015
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National Register #10000113
Southern Pacific Roundhouse
Industrial Way and Bayshore Boulevard
Built 1910

The roundhouse in Brisbane exemplifies brick roundhouses built by Southern Pacific Railroad in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

Roundhouses were used to service and repair locomotives during the steam era. They typically had circular footprints with tracks that were arranged radially leading to separate stalls. Because steam locomotives were generally designed to run in the forward direction with only limited ability to back up, roundhouses often had turntables to position locomotives into individual stalls.

Steam locomotives were last serviced in the Brisbane roundhouse in 1957. It is the only extant railroad roundhouse of the many that existed in California during the era of steam locomotives.

Source: Adapted from the NRHP Nomination.

The San Francisco Chronicle reported that the Southern Pacific Roundhouse may be renovated in conjunction with the proposed Baylands project, a huge mixed-use development that could more than triple the population of tiny Brisbane over the next thirty years.

Almost all of the Baylands project, bordered by Bayshore Boulevard on the west and Highway 101 on the east, is built on bay fill, dating back to when debris from the 1906 earthquake and fire was dumped here. Part of the site is the old Brisbane dump, where San Francisco sent its trash until 1967, and most of the rest is the old Southern Pacific train yard, used into the 1980s.

The battered shell of the railroad roundhouse is one of the few remaining buildings on the largely deserted site, covered in graffiti and surrounded by open fields of weeds.

Source: John Wildermuth, San Francisco Chronicle, 7 September 2015

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