River Station, earlier known as the San Fernando Street Depot and later commonly referred to as old River Station, was a Southern Pacific Railroad passenger station location, southwest of the Los Angeles River and north of Downtown, in Los Angeles, California. The original building served as the company's primary Los Angeles terminal until the opening of Arcade Depot in 1888. A rebuilt station would continue to operate as a passenger stop until 1915 when it was retained for freight and storage. The location for both stations was at the Southern Pacific's Los Angeles freight yard, at the north end of present-day Chinatown in Central Los Angeles. It was demolished in 1940, though the site is noted within "The Cornfield" section of Los Angeles State Historic Park.[1]

River Station
The second River Station
General information
LocationThe Cornfield, Los Angeles State Historic Park (site),
Los Angeles, California
Coordinates34°04′07″N 118°13′52″W / 34.0687°N 118.2311°W / 34.0687; -118.2311
Owned bySouthern Pacific Railroad
Opened1877; 147 years ago (1877)
Closed1915; 109 years ago (1915)
Previous namesSan Fernando Street Depot
Former services
Preceding station Southern Pacific Railroad Following station
Glendale Coast Line Central Station
Glendale San Joaquin Valley Line
Terminus Los Angeles – San Pedro Naud Junction
toward San Pedro
Santa Monica Branch Naud Junction
Sunset Route Shorb



First station (1875−1887)


The station was opened following the Southern Pacific's acquisition of the Los Angeles & San Pedro Railroad in 1873 and the railroad's construction of line linking San Francisco to Los Angeles. The first station utilizing the site was a wooden structure built in 1875, though passenger and logistical operations did not move here until June 1877.[2][3] Transcontinental trains started serving the station in 1881.[4] The two-story building had both women's and men's waiting rooms and later had a hotel and restaurants added to it. The station was assigned the first telephone number in Los Angeles in 1882.[5] It was the arrival point of many migrants drawn during the land boom of the mid-1880s.

Second station (1887−1902)

The third River Station, c. 1919

The second station was built in 1887 on the site of the demolished original one. It was a brick Romanesque Revival style building. The name of the station was officially changed to River Station in July 1893.[6] As development had coalesced around what became Downtown Los Angeles, Southern Pacific responded by building the Arcade Depot in 1888,[3] diminishing the importance of River Station. This station building was razed in June 1902.[7]

Third station


After the second station was torn down, the freight facilities were greatly expanded to include a new 600-by-50-foot (183 m × 15 m) depot featuring 32 cargo bays for transloading freight to and from trucks along with five scales and a new 200-foot-long (61 m) freight platform.[8] Southern Pacific's passenger accomodations were moved to a nearby storefront to maintain service.[citation needed] The second River Station continued to be used for passengers until 1915, then it was converted to storage.[9]

After railway use


The building was leased out as a Christian mission between 1934 and 1940, its last use before demolition that year.[9] Segments of the freight depot were demolished in 1971.[10] The yards were subsequently removed and the site was renovated into the Los Angeles State Historic Park.

See also



  1. ^ "Uncovered railroad ruins in L.A." ABC7. September 9, 2008. Retrieved April 18, 2021.
  2. ^ "The offices in this city of the Southern Pacific Railroad..." Los Angeles, California. Los Angeles Evening Express. June 18, 1877. p. 2. Retrieved July 10, 2024 – via Newspapers.com.  
  3. ^ a b Nathan Masters (January 17, 2013). "Lost Train Depots of Los Angeles". Socal Focus. KCET. Retrieved July 17, 2014.
  4. ^ "Historic railyard beams located". Daily Breeze. September 6, 2008. Retrieved April 18, 2021.
  5. ^ Seewerker, Joe; Owens, Charles (January 25, 1939). "Nuestro Pueblo". The Los Angeles Times. Los Angeles, California. p. II-2. Retrieved July 10, 2024 – via Newspapers.com.  
  6. ^ "[Railroad Record.] Change of Plans". The Los Angeles Times. Los Angeles, California. July 15, 1893. p. 8. Retrieved July 10, 2024 – via Newspapers.com.  
  7. ^ "River Station Down". Los Angeles Evening Post-Record. Los Angeles, California. June 16, 1902. p. 4. Retrieved July 10, 2024 – via Newspapers.com.  
  8. ^ "Los Angeles Notes". Covina, California. Covina Argus. June 28, 1902. p. 2. Retrieved July 12, 2024 – via Newspapers.com.  
  9. ^ a b "Old River Station Will Fall Before Wreckers". The Los Angeles Times. Los Angeles, California. November 25, 1940. p. 7. Retrieved July 10, 2024 – via Newspapers.com.  
  10. ^ Herbert, Ray (April 6, 1971). "Old Rail Shed Razed as Heritage Weighed". The Los Angeles Times. Los Angeles, California. p. 6. Retrieved July 10, 2024 – via Newspapers.com.  

Further reading

  • Historical Outline of the Southern Pacific Company. SP Bureau of News. 1933.