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Mountain Blvd. Railroad Mural Project


Project Description

The purpose of the Railroad Mural Project is to create a permanent living Work of Art for the public good based on the history of this busy location in the heart of the Montclair District, Oakland, California.

In 2014 the MSIC, together with the Oakland Public Art Advisory Committee (PAAC), approved a mural design and project plan for the Mountain Blvd "Railroad Trestle Mural Project." The Railroad Mural will be painted on a trapezoidal concrete wall that is approximately 145 long x 25 high. The piece entitled, "Train of Thought" will be done in the "Trompe L'oeil" or "Fool the Eye" style by Oakland artist Andrew Johnstone. A work of anthropomorphism, the inanimate trains that give the work its historical context will come to life in the three-dimensional work.

Current Mountain Trestle:


Proposed Mountain Trestle:



Historical Context

A railroad ran through the Oakland Hills between 1913 and 1957, which connected San Francisco and Sacramento for passengers (to 1941) and freight service. The Sacramento Northern Railway and its predecessors, the Sacramento Northern Railroad and the Sacramento Short Line, were owned by Western Pacific Rail after 1928.

Railroad Trestle Circa 1950 (Photo courtesy of East Bay Hills Project):


Almost all traces of the railroad were removed except for the high concrete abutment on Mountain Blvd in Montclair Village, which was the base for a steel trestle (train bridge) that crossed above Mountain Blvd, changing elevation between the hills and flat city streets beyond Lake Temescal.

Other Reminders of Montclair's Railroad History

- The Short Line Pocket Park at Moraga and Thornhill, a small natural hill which marks another former trestle location, is now maintained by volunteers. The Montclair Safety and Improvement Council (MSIC) beautification committee envisioned and led the development of the small park.

- The Montclair Railroad Trail is a path now maintained by volunteers; Friends of the Montclair Railroad Trail.

- The one-mile Redwood Tunnel in Shepherd Canyon was sealed at the portals (Saroni and Pinehurst).

Current Status

The Sacramento Northern Railroad transferred interest in the concrete wall on the Mountain Boulevard Crossing in the late 1950s. City of Oakland property today, the concrete abutment (mural canvas) retains the earth adjacent to the current Pacific Union building in the northwest side of Montclair Village.


Click on this link to view a video of the proposed Trompe L'oeil mural design by local artist Andrew Johnstone, and the method used to create the 3-dimensional look:

Montclair Railroad Mural Project Proposal

Click on this link to view a video of the mural created for the Woodminster community at the Woodminster Market on Joaquin Miller Rd. by local artist Andrew Johnstone:

Woodminster Mural Project

Funding the Project

Project support pledged so far totals $14,000. The fund raising campaign is 35% complete!

View the Railroad Mural Budget (updated Feb 2015)

Generous donations have been received from Friends of The Oakland Fox, Inc., Alameda County Board of Supervisors Nate Miley, Safeway, Jill and Tobin Broadhurst, Michael Tigges and Susan Jacobson as well as hundreds of other people who have made significant donations of time and money to keep the project moving forward.

Pledges of contributions have been made by Oakland District 4 Council Member Annie Campbell-Washington and the Montclair Village Association.

To support this project, visit our Mountain Blvd. Railroad Mural Project donation page

Thank you!

Updated Feb 13, 2017