Stockton Diamond Railroad Crossing – Stockton, California - Atlas Obscura

Stockton Diamond Railroad Crossing

In a forgotten Central Valley industrial park lies the busiest railroad junction in California. 


The Stockton Diamond Railroad Crossing is a marvel of engineering and a humorous display of the state of rail in America. The Stockton Diamond is a crossroads of double-track freight and passenger rail owned and operated by Union Pacific and BNSF; the duopoly that controls all freight rail in the western United States. Union Pacific, owner of the north-south tracks, and BNSF, owner of the east-west corridor, stand off daily with thousands of tons of freight and miles and miles of rail cars.

In addition to its 24/7 freight usage, the junction is also part of the Altamont Corridor Express and the Amtrak San Joaquins passenger rail lines. The Stockton Diamond is said to be the most congested rail bottleneck in California. 

In addition to its famous traffic, the wear and tear that occurs at these kinds of junctions is another reason why in 2020 the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) proposed to grade separate the junction such that traffic in one direction would pass above and have no effect of perpendicular traffic below. Construction began in 2023, and while the Stockton Diamond remains today in all its glory, by 2026 it will no longer be an at-grade junction.

Know Before You Go

While the site is well worth the visit, travelers should be aware that construction activities, moving trains, stray dogs, and the general vibes of an industrial park make one's safety somewhat questionable. Be cautious and exercise good judgment.

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