• Southern Pacific

  • Pertaining to all railroad subjects, past and present, in the American West, including California, Arizona, Nevada, Colorado, New Mexico, Wyoming, Montana, and The Dakotas. For specific railroad topics, please see the Fallen Flags and Active Railroads categories.
Pertaining to all railroad subjects, past and present, in the American West, including California, Arizona, Nevada, Colorado, New Mexico, Wyoming, Montana, and The Dakotas. For specific railroad topics, please see the Fallen Flags and Active Railroads categories.

Moderator: Komachi

  by The S.P. Caboose
Having lived near Southern Pacific trackage all my life, I enjoyed a couple of things about them as a railfan. I liked the tunnel motors, the scenery of some of their areas and knowing you could see just about any model of unit at any time.

The coastline travels about 100 miles along the Pacific Ocean between Devon and Ventura. Walong siding, where Techachaoi loop is located. And Beamont Hill where a railfan could see a 6,000 ton hot shots. Three different types of geography. The coast usually having 2-3 freights plus Amtrak each way everyday, The Techachapi area with helpers getting cut in at Kern Junction (Bakersfield) and cut out at the west switch in Sylmar for the trains going directly into Los Angeles; finally seeing as many as 60 trains a day in and out of West Colton over Beamont Hill, some being 14,000 ton drags.

Do any of the others at this forum have any pleasant memories of the Southern Pacific?

  by AmtrakFan
Yes I do when SP ran on the BN from KC to Chicago their trains use to be parked on Track 2 in Downers Grove, IL at Belmont St. They use to have 5-6 Trains each way my Dad always would get SP on film but he did do BN and Amtrak. We saw SP at it's best with just about eveything road unit they had AC4400, GP60, SD45T-2, SD40-2, as well as a ton of leased Power. The trains would be powered by 6-10 Older Units on most trains with only 1/2 of them working.

  by The S.P. Caboose
Very nice. I always did like the SD40T-2's and SD45T-2's. It just seems like the scarlet and grey helped all the other units from different roads look good.

Speaking of Burlington Northern, I enjoyed the green paint scheme.
  by bill haithcoat
My experiences with Southern Pacific were all pleasant, even though it was building a notorious reputation for being anti-passenger. I personally did well on my SP trips.

One moment, frozen in time, stands out. I was on the City of SF heading west. last morning out. I had eaten the night before in the beautiful dome diner for the City of LA (the City of SF and City of LA were already running combined at this time.)

Although my diner that morning on the City of SF was just a normal single level diner, I was 1. passing through literal ghost towns---my first time to actually see them and 2. It was using the carafe type of coffee service which Amtrak has to this day.

That carafe service was more or less distinctive to the SP in those days. It was just a delicous breakfast rolling along lost in time and space through ghost towns. No big deal--just sticks in my mind.

I enjoyed the that way of serving coffee. I had not encountered that before.

This would have been in the early 60's.

  by espee
I was not very familiar with the SP until it was bought by the Rio Grande as I lived most of my life in Rio Grande territory. When the SP locomotives started coming through, I would be at the street corner with my camera. (The neighbors thought I was crazy.) The SP crews were always friendly and I got to be on a first name basis with several of them that I would come across at different sidings. It was always impressive when a mix of DRGW & SP tunnel motors were lashed together grinding uphill and trying to make Tennessee Pass summit. :-)

  by SSW9389
Yeh, Tunnel Motors!

  by Gilbert B Norman
Possibly this material I posted at the Rail Travel Forum will be of interest here:
  by Gilbert B Norman
While answering an inquiry over at another railforum, I came upon these photos of SP triple-unit Cascade Club

http://www.ggrm.org/about_the_museum/pa ... ascade.htm

http://www.geocities.com/Athens/Oracle/ ... feinz.html

I must, however, differ with the cars' description as presented by the Golden Gate Museum. There are actually differences between the cars built for first the Lark (SF-LA overnight train) and later for the Cascade (Portland-Oakland).

The Lark cars 10274-5-6 and 10277-8-9 were built during 1941. Ths Cascade cars 10280-1-2 10283-4-5 were built during 1950.

Lastly, here is some additional material regarding the Cascade:

http://www.kls2.com/~karl/rr/consists/s ... 0-oct.html
  by 2nd trick op
For a number of years, I used to set aside two weeks each summer to go long-distance railfanning. Since Amtrak didn't get access to all the places that counted, Greyhound Ameripasses were my usual primary means of transportation.

Anyhow, in the early summer of 1984, I followed US66/I-40 as far west as Amarillo, Texas, then took a TNM&O stage south into New Mexico via Clovis and Roswell.

At Alamogordo, I found myself with a few hours to kill while waiting to transfer for a run that would get me to Phoenix without a long layover in El Paso, so I headed for the tracks.

Service in this area was provided by the former Rock Island/EsPee "Golden State" route, (nee El Paso & Southwestern). The Rock ran only as far as Tucumcari, but SP had taken over the service as far east as Kansas City when the Rock imploded a few years before.

I had expected to find only moderate activity, but was suprised to encounter a very active train order office, staffed by an operator coping successfully with an average of 20 daily moves in timetable/train order territory.

I'd grown up along a PRR branch operated by a manual block system, more often than not with an interlocking at the end of the siding, but this was my first (and unfortunately, last) exposure to the operating pattern common on most western mainlines before the advent of CTC, DTC and TWC.

  by trainman786
I grew up about 50 yards from the Southern Pacific tracks that ran through my hometown of McDade TX. I can still hear the sounds of the SP Geep units as they pulled the short grade just west of McDade as they headed east toward Houston with mixed freights.

Southern Pacific abandoned the line in the early 90's (I believe) and the entire section between Giddings and Llano is now owned by Capital Metro of Austin. There is a shortline operation owned by Trans-Global Solutions that hauls rock and gravel out of Marble Falls to Austin, but trains east of Austin on the former SP are VERY infrequent.

A 33-mile segment of the line between Cedar Park and Burnet TX is also used by the Austin & Texas Central Railroad, a tourist line that operates SP 2-8-2 #786 (currently under restoration) and Alco RSD-15 #442 painted in an A&TC "Black Widow" color scheme.


  by hgates3
Jim, are the gravel trains between marble falls and austin very frequent? When I lived in Austin there were 3 to 4 loads a day eastbound. Do you happen to know final destination of the rock/gravel trains? Thanks.


  by TB Diamond
SP had the dubious distinction of having the only passenger train to be struck by a artillery shell during WW II in the U.S. This incident involved train No. 99 just south of San Luis Obispo and three SP employees were injured.

  by U-Haul
I love the plethera of locomotives they bought. When the Rio Grande bought Southern Pacific a bunch of Rio Grande unit got Southern Pacific paint. A Gray and Scarlet SD50 is cool to look at. A Rio Grande SD40T-2 repainted in Scarlet and Gray is also a cool site. It is said that Conrail was the Southern Pacific of the East. Well, Southern Pacific was the Conrail of the west when it came to washing locomotives.
  by thespcaboose
I've always enjoyed the espee. I like hearing the dispatcher issuing block authority under DTC (Direct Traffic Control). I do miss the espee.
  by thespcaboose
thespcaboose wrote:I've always enjoyed the espee. I like hearing the dispatcher issuing block authority under DTC (Direct Traffic Control). I do miss the espee.
Living near the coast mainline I would hear the SPLA Santa Barbara dispatcher granting block authority. A lot of the time for westbound traffic the dispatcher would often grant block authority into the Hewitt and Northridge blocks, take siding in Chatsworth.