About the Iron Horse Corridor

Early History

The Iron Horse Corridor was once the Southern Pacific Railroad's San Ramon Valley Branch Line. The line was built in the early 1890s and the first train ran in June 1891. The railroad played a key role in the development of central Contra Costa County.

As transportation technology changed throughout the 20th century, the railroad became marginal. Southern Pacific received federal permission in 1978 to abandon the line, and the tracks were removed over the next year or so. Responding to suggestions from the public, Contra Costa County obtained $8 million in state transportation grants to buy the right of way from Southern Pacific. The County bought the right of way gradually from 1983 to 1989 to preserve it as a trail, utility corridor, and a future rail transit route.

Creation of the Trail

The East Bay Regional Park District had already identified the route as a priority for a future trail in its 1976 Master Plan. After the County obtained the Corridor, the Iron Horse Trail was created and opened for public use through the combined efforts of local community groups and government agencies. One community group, the Right of Way Trail Advocates, played a vital role in focusing on the use of the right of way as a trail.

Maintenance

The County maintains the corridor lands alongside the trail and has granted easements and licenses to several companies and public agencies for underground pipelines, cables, utility lines such as water and sewer lines, fiberoptics, and flood control facilities. Parts of some local streets are within the corridor as well, such as part of Jones Road and South Broadway in Walnut Creek.

Improvements

As the trail became increasingly popular, residents living along the corridor requested that Contra Costa County allow for landscaping in the corridor. In response, the county developed the Iron Horse Corridor Management Program which includes a Landscape Element. The Management Program, among other things, allows for landscaping by individuals or groups under specific conditions.

Contacts

  • Bob Hendry
    Contra Costa County Public Works Department
    Phone: (925) 674-7744
  • Carl Roner (for information on Management Program)
    Contra Costa County Public Works Department
    Phone: (925) 313-2213
  • Utility Contacts

Resources