Menlo Park Railroad Station was constructed in 1867 by the San Francisco and San Jose Railroad Company (SF&SJ), the first railroad that united these two cities by running the length of the San Francisco Peninsula.
SF&SJ incorporated in 1860 and by 1863, had opened the initial segment of its peninsula route. The entire 49.5-mile railroad was completed in 1864 and in 1870, the company merged with Southern Pacific Railroad.
In addition to being a State Historic Landmark as well as being listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the Menlo Park Railroad Station also holds the record as the oldest, continually operating train station in all of California. It also holds title to being the oldest building still standing in Menlo Park.
Southern Pacific Railroad adorned the Menlo Park depot located at 1120 Merrill Street with Victorian embellishments in 1890 in an effort to make it more appealing to the students and visitors of the newly opened Stanford University. The addition to the depot’s northwest side was added during World War I to accommodate the increase in passengers produced by the short-lived Palo Alto military base, Camp Fremont.
Throughout its almost 150 years of existence, the Menlo station has always been active, first hosting passengers on steam locomotives until the 1960s, when diesel engines took over.
Today, Menlo Station is a key stop along the CalTrain commuter rail line that shuttles workers, sports enthusiasts and tourists between its 29 stops. The railroad goes as far south as Gilroy, through San Jose to its northernmost San Francisco stop.
In 2004, CalTrain introduced a new express service christened the Baby Bullet. These trains, along with their special bypass tracks, reduced travel time between San Jose and San Francisco by stopping only at a few stations between the two destinations, reducing the 90-minute commute to about an hour. This is a perfect option for commuters who are able to depart from one of the limited stops.
CalTrain offers special event trains for those preferring to use public transportation to Stanford football, San Jose Sharks, San Francisco Giants and 49ers games. They also have a Fourth of July Fireworks Special and a Holiday Train, a free family tradition since 2001. The Menlo Park Station operates 7 days a week and more information on its schedule can be found on the CalTrain website.