The Southern Pacific Danville Depot
San Ramon Valley Historical Society Plaque #16
Fulfilling the hopes of the San Ramon Valley’s farmers and ranchers, a new Southern Pacific Railroad line was completed from Avon to San Ramon by May 17, 1891. On that day officials and other worthy gentlemen conducted the first official train ride on the line.
The 8.65 acres of land for the Danville station was sold to Southern Pacific by John Hartz. Soon after, Hartz surveyed and sold property west of the village’s main street, Front. This transformed Danville from a Front Street – oriented village to its present downtown on Hartz and Railroad Avenues. New businesses provided accommodations and services to rail road passengers. Danville grew to be the major town in the San Ramon Valley.
In 1891, using a standard building design, No. 18, company employees and private contractors built four main depots at Concord, Walnut Creek, Danville and San Ramon. These two-story combination passenger-freight depots provided room on the ground floor for a waiting room, baggage room, large freight room, and offices for the ticket agent, freight agent, telegraph operator and often for a Wells Fargo agent. All SP buildings of this design were painted a faded dandelion gold trimmed in brown.
The train order window, located on the track side of the depot, provided a view of approaching trains and station activity. Orders were originally transmitted to the crew of the steam locomotive by semaphore signals, which later were replaced by electric signals. Upstairs was a two-bedroom apartment which was the station agent’s home.