Southern Pacific



Southern Pacific in the news

Japan quake prompts tsunami alert - 2 hours, 44 minutes ago
The Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) raised the tsunami alert level to number 2 in coastal areas in southern Philippines after a powerful 8.3-magnitude earthquake hit off Japan’s northeast coast in the Pacific yesterday.
Japan Warns of Tsunami After Quake in Pacific Ocean (Update2) - Jan 12 11:28 PM
Jan. 13 (Bloomberg) -- Japan's Meteorological Agency issued a tsunami warning for the eastern coast of Hokkaido in northern Japan after an earthquake northeast of the island that the U.S. Geological Survey measured at magnitude 8.2.

Beavers’ bid for a sweep falls short 
Albany Democrat-Herald - Jan 12 10:37 PM
Oregon State freshman forward Judie Lomax matched her career-high with 18 points, but the Beavers dropped a 59-51 decision at University of Southern California in Sunday’s Pacific-10 Conference women’s basketball action.

HK shares rebound as Cathay Pacific sets life high 
Reuters via Yahoo! Asia News - Jan 11 9:26 PM
HONG KONG, Jan 12 (Reuters) - Hong Kong blue chips rose 1.4 percent and China plays gained nearly 3 percent on Friday with telecoms and financial stocks leading the way after days of sharp declines, while Cathay Pacific set a record high.

- Southren Pacific

Here is an article on Southern Pacific.

Southern Pacific
Reporting marks SP,SSW
Locale Arizona, California, Louisiana, Nevada, New Mexico, Souther Pacific Oregon, Texas, and Utah
Dates of operation 1865 – Southren Pacific 1996
Successor line Union Pacific
Track gauge 4 ft 8½ in (1435 mm) with some 3 ft (914 mm) gauge branches
Headquarters San Francisco, Sothern Pacific CA

The Southern Pacific Railroad (AAR reporting marks SP) was an American railroad. The railroad was founded as a land holding company in 1865, forming part of the Central Pacific Railroad empire. The Southern Pacific's total route miles has varied significantly over the years. In 1929 the system showed 13,848 miles of track (in contrast to 8,991 miles of track in 1994). By 1900, the Southern Pacific Company had grown into a major railroad system which incorporated many smaller companies, such as the Texas and New Orleans Railroad and Morgan's Louisiana and Texas Railroad, and which extended from New Orleans through Texas to El Paso, across New Mexico and through Tucson, to Los Angeles, throughout most of California including San Francisco and Sacramento; it absorbed the Central Pacific Railroad extending eastward across Nevada to Ogden, Utah and had lines reaching north throughout and across Oregon to Portland.

On August 9, 1988, the Interstate Commerce Commission approved the purchase of the Southern Pacific by Rio Grande Industries, the company that controlled the Denver and Rio Grande Western Railroad. The Rio Grande officially took control of the Southern Pacific on October 13, 1988. After the purchase, the combined railroad kept the Southern Pacific name due to its brand recognition in the railroad industry and with customers of both constituent railroads. The Southern Pacific subsequently was taken over by the Union Pacific Railroad in 1996 following years of financial problems. The railroad is also noteworthy for being the defendant in the landmark 1886 United States Supreme Court case Santa Clara County v. Southern Pacific Railroad which is often interpreted as having established certain corporate rights under the Constitution of the United States.


  • 1 Timeline
  • 2 Locomotive paint and appearance
  • 3 Passenger train service
  • 4 Preserved locomotives
  • 5 Company officers
    • 5.1 Presidents of the Southern Pacific Company
    • 5.2 Chairmen of the Southern Pacific Company Executive Committee
    • 5.3 Chairmen of the Southern Pacific Company Board of Directors
  • 6 Predecessor and subsidiary railroads
    • 6.1 Arizona
    • 6.2 California
  • 7 Successor railroads
    • 7.1 Arizona
    • 7.2 California
  • 8 Ferry service
  • 9 References
  • 10 See also
  • 11 External links


  • 1851: The oldest line to become a part of the Southern Pacific system, the Buffalo Bayou, Brazos, and Colorado Railway begins construction between Houston, TX and Alleyton, TX.
  • 1865: A group of businessmen in San Francisco, CA, led by Timothy Phelps, found the Southern Pacific Railroad to build a rail connection between San Francisco and San Diego, CA.
  • September 25, 1868: The Big Four purchases the Southern Pacific.
  • 1870: Southern Pacific and Central Pacific operations are merged.
  • June 1873: The Southern Pacific builds its first locomotive at the railroad's Sacramento shops as CP's 2nd number 55, a 4-4-0.
  • November 8, 1874: Southern Pacific tracks reach Bakersfield, CA and work begins on the Tehachapi Loop
  • September 5, 1876: The first through train from San Francisco arrives in Los Angeles, CA after travelling over the newly completed Tehachapi Loop.
  • 1877: Southern Pacific tracks from Los Angeles cross the Colorado River at Yuma, AZ. Southern Pacific purchases the Houston and Texas Central Railway.
  • 1879: Southern Pacific engineers experiment with the first oil-fired locomotives.
  • March 20, 1880: The first Southern Pacific train reaches Tucson, AZ.
  • May 11 1880: The Mussel Slough Tragedy takes place in Hanford, CA, a dispute over property rights with SP.
  • May 19, 1881: Southern Pacific tracks reach El Paso, TX.
  • January 12, 1883: The second transcontinental railroad line is completed as the Southern Pacific tracks from Los Angeles meet the Galveston, Harrisburg and San Antonio Railway at the Pecos River. The golden spike is driven by Col. Tom Pierce, the GH&SA president, atop the Pecos River High Bridge
  • March 17, 1884: The Southern Pacific is incorporated in Kentucky.
  • February 17, 1885: The Southern Pacific and Central Pacific are combined under a holding company named the Southern Pacific Company.
  • April 1, 1885: The Southern Pacific takes over all operation of the Central Pacific. Effectively, the CP no longer exists as a separate company.
  • 1886: The first refrigerator cars on the Southern Pacific enter operation.
  • 1886: Southern Pacific wins the landmark Supreme Court case Santa Clara County v. Southern Pacific Railroad which establishes equal rights under the law to corporations.
    The Southern Pacific depot located in Burlingame, California circa 1900. Completed in 1894 and still in use, it is the first permanent structure to be constructed in the Mission Revival Style.
  • 1898: Sunset magazine is founded as a promotional tool of the Southern Pacific.
  • 1901: Frank Norris' novel, The Octopus: A California Story, a fictional retelling of the Mussel Slough Tragedy and the events leading up to it, is published.
  • 1903: Southern Pacific gains 50% control of the Pacific Electric system in Los Angeles.
  • March 8, 1904: SP opens the Lucin Cutoff across the Great Salt Lake, bypassing Promontory, UT for the railroad's mainline.
  • March 20, 1904: SP's Coast Line is completed between Los Angeles and Santa Barbara, CA.
  • April 18, 1906: The great 1906 San Francisco earthquake strikes, damaging the railroad's headquarters building and destroying the mansions of the now-deceased Big Four.
  • 1906: SP and UP jointly form the Pacific Fruit Express (PFE) refrigerator car line.
  • 1913: The Supreme Court of the United States orders the Union Pacific to sell all of its stock in the Southern Pacific.
  • December 28, 1917: The federal government takes control of American railroads in preparation for World War I
  • 1923: The Interstate Commerce Commission allows the SP's control of the Central Pacific to continue, ruling that the control is in the public's interest.
  • 1932: The SP gains 87% control of the Cotton Belt Railroad.
  • May 1939: UP, SP and Santa Fe passenger trains in Los Angeles are united into a single terminal as Los Angeles Union Passenger Terminal is opened.
  • 1947: The first diesels owned entirely by SP enter mainline operation on the SP.
  • 1947: Southern Pacific is reincorporated in Delaware.
  • 1951: Southern Pacific subsidiary Sud Pacifico de Mexico is sold to the Mexican government.
  • 1952: A difficult year for the SP in California opens with the City of San Francisco train marooned for three days in heavy snow on Donner Pass; that summer, an earthquake hits the Tehachapi pass, closing the entire route over the Tehachapi Loop until repairs can be made.
  • 1953: The first Trailer-On-Flat-Car (TOFC, or "piggyback") equipment enters service on the SP.
  • 1957: The last steam locomotives in regular operation on the SP are retired; the railroad is now fully dieselized.
  • 1959: The last revenue steam powered freight is operated on the system by narrow gauge #9.
  • 1965: Southern Pacific's bid for control of the Western Pacific is rejected by the ICC.
  • 1967: SP opens the longest stretch of new railroad construction in a quarter century as the first trains roll over the Palmdale Cutoff through Cajon Pass.
  • 1976: SP is awarded Dow Chemical's first annual Rail Safety Achievement Award in recognition of the railroad's handling of Dow products in 1975.[1]
  • 1980: Now owning a 98.34% control of the Cotton Belt, the Southern Pacific extends the Cotton Belt from St. Louis to Santa Rosa, New Mexico through acquisition of part of the former Rock Island Railroad.
SP 8033, a GE Dash 8-39B, leads a westbound train through Eola, Illinois (just east of Aurora), October 6, 1992.
  • 1984: The Southern Pacific Company merges into Santa Fe Industries, parent of the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway, to form Santa Fe Southern Pacific Corporation. When the Interstate Commerce Commission refuses permission for the planned merger of the railroad subsidiaries as the Southern Pacific Santa Fe Railroad SPSF shortens its name to Santa Fe Pacific Corporation and puts the SP railroad up for sale while retaining the non-rail assets of the Southern Pacific Company.
  • October 13, 1988: Rio Grande Industries, parent of the Rio Grande Railroad, takes control of the Southern Pacific Railroad. The merged company retains the name "Southern Pacific" for all railroad operations.
  • 1996: The Union Pacific Railroad finishes the acquisition that was effectively begun almost a century before with the purchase of the Southern Pacific. The merged company retains the name "Union Pacific" for all railroad operations.

Locomotive paint and appearance

Southern Pacific Railroad #4274, a type 4-8-8-2 "cab-forward" steam locomotive, leads a California-Nevada Railroad Historical Society excursion out of Reno, Nevada in December of 1957.

Like most railroads, the SP painted the majority of its steam locomotive fleet black during the 20th century, but after the 1930s the SP had a policy of painting the front of the locomotive's smokebox light silver (almost white in appearance), with graphite colored sides, for visibility.

Some express passenger steam locomotives bore the Daylight scheme, named after the trains they hauled, most of which had the word Daylight in the train name. This scheme, carried in full on the tender, consisted of a bright, almost vermilion red on the top and bottom thirds, with the center third being a bright orange. The parts were separated with thin white bands. Some of the color continued along the locomotive. The most famous "Daylight" locomotives were the GS-4 steam locomotives. The most famous Daylight-hauled trains were the Coast Daylight and the Sunset Limited.

Well known were the Southern Pacific's unique "cab-forward" steam locomotives. These were essentially 2-8-8-4 locomotives set up to run in reverse, with the tender attached to the smokebox end of the locomotive. Southern Pacific used a number of snow sheds in mountain terrain, and locomotive crews nearly asphyxiated from smoke blowing back to the cab. After a number of engineers began running their engines in reverse (pushing the tender), Southern Pacific asked Baldwin Locomotive Works to produce cab-forward designs. No other North American railroad ordered cab-forward locomotives, which became a distinctive symbol of the Southern Pacific.

During the early days of diesel locomotive use, they were also painted black. Yard switchers had diagonal orange stripes painted on the ends for visibility, earning this scheme the nickname of Tiger Stripe. Road freight units were generally painted in a black scheme with a red band at the bottom of the carbody and a silver and orange "winged" nose. The words "SOUTHERN PACIFIC" were borne in a large serif font in white. This paint scheme is called the Black Widow scheme by railfans. A transitory scheme, of all-over black with orange "winged" nose, was called the Halloween scheme. Few locomotives were painted in this scheme and few photos of it exist.

Most passenger units were painted originally in the Daylight scheme as described above, though some were painted red on top, silver below for use on the Golden State (operated in cooperation with the Rock Island Railroad) between Chicago and Los Angeles. In 1959 SP standardized on a paint scheme of dark grey with a red "winged" nose; this scheme was dubbed Bloody Nose by railfans. Lettering was again in white. During the failed Southern Pacific Santa Fe Railroad merger in the mid 1980s, the "Kodachrome" (Named after Kodak's film strip box colors of the day.) paint scheme was applied to many Southern Pacific locomotives. When the Southern Pacific Santa Fe merger was denied by the Interstate Commerce Commission, the Kodachrome units were not when it came to paint, some even lasted up to the days of Sounthern Pacific's end as an independent company. The Interstate Commerce Commission's decision left Southern Pacific in a decrepit state, the locomotives where not repainted immediately, although some were repainted into the Bloody Nose scheme as they were overhauled after months to years of deffered maintenance. After the Denver and Rio Grande Western Railroad, owner Philip Anschutz purchased the Southern Pacific in 1988, the side lettering became often done in the Rio Grande "speed lettering" style. The Rio Grande did not retain its identity, the Southern Pacific was the dominant road in the purchase.

Southern Pacific road switcher diesels were well-known by railfans for several distinct features beyond their paint schemes. The units often featured elaborate lighting clusters, both front and rear, which featured a large red Mars Light for emergency signaling, and often two sets of twin sealed-beam headlamps, one on top of the cab between the number boards, and the other below the Mars Light on the locomotive's nose. The Southern Pacific, starting in the 1970s, employed cab air conditioning on all new locomotives, and the air conditioning unit on top of the locomotive cab is quite visible. The Southern Pacific also placed very large snowplows on the pilots of their road switchers, primarily for the heavy winter snowfall encountered on the Donner Pass route. Many Southern Pacific road switchers used a Nathan 5-chime air horn, which formed a chord that was unique to the Southern Pacific locomotives.

The Southern Pacific, and its subsidiary Cotton Belt, were the only operators of the EMD SD45T-2 "Tunnel Motor" locomotive. This locomotive was necessary because the standard configuration EMD SD45 could not get a sufficient amount of cool air into the diesel locomotive's radiatior while working Southern Pacific's extensive snow shed and tunnel system in the Cascades and Donner Pass. These "Tunnel Motors" were essentially EMD SD45s with radiator air intakes located at the locomotive carbody's walkway level, rather than EMD's typical radiator setup with fans on the locomotive's long hood roof blowing fresh air downwards through the radiator. Inside tunnels and snowsheds, the hot exhaust gases from lead units would accumulate near the top of the tunnel or snowshed, and be drawn into the radiators of trailing EMD (non-tunnel motor) locomotives, leading these locomotives to shut down as their diesel prime mover overheated. The Southern Pacific also operated EMD SD40T-2s, as did the Denver and Rio Grande Western Railroad.

Unlike many other railroads, whose locomotive numberboards bore the locomotive's number, the SP used them for the train number all the way up to the proposed Southern Pacific Santa Fe Railroad merger. By the Rio Grande Industries era, SP had adopted the more standard practice of using the number boards for the road number.

Toward the end of the railroad's corporate life, Southern Pacific locomotives were known for being very dirty. Some railfans jokingly observed that the railroad's heavily used locomotives were only washed when it rained.

Union Pacific recently unveiled UP 1996, the sixth and final of its Heritage Series EMD SD70ACe locomotives. Its paint scheme appears to be based on the Daylight and Black Widow schemes.

Passenger train service

Until May 1, 1971 (when Amtrak took over long-distance passenger operations in the United States), the Southern Pacific at various times operated the following named passenger trains:

Southern Pacific Railroad chair car (coach) #2425, assigned to the Challenger, makes a stop in San Luis Obispo, California on July 26, 1937.
  • 49er
  • Argonaut
  • Beaver
  • Cascade Limited
  • City of San Francisco (operated jointly with the Chicago and North Western Railway and the Union Pacific Railroad)
  • Coast Daylight
  • Coast Mail
  • Coaster
  • Del Monte
  • Fast Mail
  • Golden Rocket (proposed, was to have been operated jointly with the Rock Island Railroad)
  • Golden State (operated jointly with the Rock Island Railroad)
  • Grand Canyon
  • Klamath
  • Lark
  • Oregonian
  • Overland
  • Owl
  • Pacific Limited
  • Peninsula Commute (operated until 1985, now Caltrain)
  • Rogue River
  • Sacramento Daylight
  • San Francisco Challenger (operated jointly with the Chicago and North Western Railway and the Union Pacific Railroad)
  • San Joaquin Daylight
  • Senator
  • Shasta
  • Shasta Limited
  • Sunset
  • Sunset Limited
  • Tehachapi
  • West Coast

Locomotives Used for Passenger Service

Steam Locomotives

  • 2-8-0 Consolidation
  • 2-8-2 Mikado
  • 4-4-2 Atlantic
  • 4-6-2 Pacific - see SP 2472
  • 4-8-2 Mountain
  • 4-8-4 Golden State/General Service - see SP 4449

Diesel Locomotives

  • EMD E2
  • EMD E7
  • EMD E8
  • EMD E9 - see SP 6051
  • EMD FP7
  • FM H-24-66 "Train Master"
  • EMD GP7 - SSW only
  • EMD GP9 - see SP 5623
  • EMD SD7
  • EMD SD9 - see SP 4450
  • GE P30CH - leased from Amtrak
  • EMD SDP45
  • EMD GP40P-2

Preserved locomotives

There are many Southern Pacific locomotives still in revenue service with railroads such as the Union Pacific, and many older and special locomotives have been donated to parks and museums, or continue operating on scenic or tourist railroads. Among the more notable equipment is:

SP 1518 at IRM, July 2005.
  • 4294 (AC-12, 4-8-8-2), located at the California State Railroad Museum, Sacramento, California
  • 4449 (GS-4, 4-8-4), located at the Brooklyn Roundhouse, Portland, Oregon
  • 2472 (P-8, 4-6-2), owned and operated by the Golden Gate Railroad Museum, Redwood City, California
  • 2467 (P-8, 4-6-2), on loan by the Pacific Locomotive Association, Fremont, California to the California State Railroad Museum
  • 1518 (EMD SD7), located at the Illinois Railway Museum, Union, Illinois

For a complete list, see: List of preserved Southern Pacific Railroad rolling stock.

Company officers

Presidents of the Southern Pacific Company

  • Timothy Guy Phelps (1865-1868)
  • Leland Stanford (1868-1890)
  • Collis P. Huntington (1890-1900)
  • Charles Hayes (1900-1901)
  • E. H. Harriman (1901-1909)
  • Robert S. Lovett (1909-1911)
  • William Sproule (1911-1918)
  • Julius Krutschnitt (1918-1920)
  • William Sproule (1920-1928)
  • Paul Shoup (1929-1932)
  • Angus Daniel McDonald (1932-1941)
  • Armand Mercier (1941-1951)
  • Donald Russell (1952-1964)
  • Benjamin Biaggini (1964-1976)
  • Denman McNear (1976-1979)
  • Alan Furth (1979-1982)
  • Robert Krebs (1982-1983)
  • D. M. "Mike" Mohan (1984-1996)

Chairmen of the Southern Pacific Company Executive Committee

  • Leland Stanford (1890-1893)
  • (vacant 1893-1909)
  • Robert S. Lovett (1909-1913)
  • Julius Krutschnitt (1913-1925)
  • Henry deForest (1925-1928)
  • Hale Holden (1928-1932)

Chairmen of the Southern Pacific Company Board of Directors

  • Henry deForest (1929-1932)
  • Hale Holden (1932-1939)
  • (position nonexistent 1939-1964)
  • Donald Russell (1964-1972)
  • (vacant 1972-1976)
  • Benjamin Biaggini (1976-1983)

Predecessor and subsidiary railroads


  • Arizona Eastern Railroad 1910-1955
    • Arizona Eastern Railroad Company of New Mexico 1904-1910
    • Arizona and Colorado Railroad 1902-1910
    • Gila Valley, Globe and Northern Railway 1894-1910 later AZER
    • Maricopa and Phoenix Railroad (of 1907) 1908-1910
      • Maricopa and Phoenix and Salt River Valley Railroad 1895-1908
        • Maricopa and Phoenix Railroad (of 1886) 1887-1895
          • Arizona Central Railroad 1881-1887
        • Phoenix, Tempe and Mesa Railway 1894-1895
    • Arizona and Colorado Railroad Company of New Mexico 1904-1910
  • El Paso and Southwestern Railroad
    • Arizona and New Mexico Railway 1883-1935
      • Clifton and Southern Pacific Railway 1883 (Narrow Gauge)
      • Clifton and Lordsburg Railway
    • Arizona and South Eastern Rail Road 1888-1902
    • Mexico and Colorado Railroad 1908-1910
    • Southwestern Railroad of Arizona 1900-1901
    • Southwestern Railroad of New Mexico 1901-1902
  • New Mexico and Arizona Railroad 1882-1897 ATSF Subsidiary, 1897-1934 Non-operating SP subsidiary
  • Phoenix and Eastern Railroad 1903-1934
  • Tucson and Nogales Railroad 1910-1934
    • Twin Buttes Railroad 1906-1929; Tucson-Sahuarita line sold to above in 1910. Sahuarita-Twin Buttes line scrapped in 1934.


  • California Pacific Railroad (Cal-P line Sacramento - Martinez, CA)
  • Central Pacific Railroad
  • Northern Railway SP Subsidiary
  • Northwestern Pacific Railroad
  • Sacramento Southern Railroad
  • San Diego and Arizona Railway
  • West Side and Mendocino Railroad (Willows - Fruto, CA)
  • Northwestern Pacific Railroad
  • San Francisco and San Jose RR
  • South Pacific Coast Railroad
  • Oregon and California Railroad

Successor railroads


  • Arizona Eastern Railway (AZER) since 1988 from SP
  • San Pedro and Southwestern Railroad (SPSR) 2003-2006 line abandoned
    • San Pedro and Southwestern Railway (SWKR) from SP, 1994-2003


  • California Northern Railroad
  • Eureka Southern Railroad
  • Napa Valley Wine Train
  • Niles Canyon Railway
  • North Coast Railroad
  • San Diego and Arizona Eastern Railway
  • San Joaquin Valley Railroad

Ferry service

The Southern Pacific Company's Bay City ferry plies the waters of San Francisco Bay in the late 19th century.

The Central Pacific Railroad (and later the Southern Pacific) maintained and operated a fleet of ferry boats that connected Oakland with San Francisco by water. For this purpose, a massive pier, the Oakland Long Wharf, was built out into San Francsico Bay in the 1870s which served both local and mainline passengers. Early on, the Central Pacific gained control of the existing ferry lines for the purpose of linking the northern rail lines with those from the south and east; during the late 1860s the company purchased nearly every bayside plot in Oakland, creating what author and historian Oscar Lewis described as a "wall around the waterfront" that put the town’s fate squarely in the hands of the corporation. Competitors for ferry passengers or dock space were ruthlessly run out of business, and not even stage coach lines could escape the group's notice, or wrath.

By 1930, the Southern Pacific owned the world's largest ferry fleet (which was subsidized by other railroad activities), carrying 40 million passengers and 60 million vehicles annually aboard 43 vessels. However, the opening of the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge in 1936 initiated the slow decline in demand for ferry service, and by 1951 only 6 ships remained active. SP ferry service was discontinued altogether in 1958.


  • Beebe, Lucius (1963). The Central Pacific & The Southern Pacific Railroads. Howell-North Books, Berkeley, CA. ISBN 0-8310-7034-X. 
  • Diebert, Timothy S. and Strapac, Joseph A. (1987). Southern Pacific Company steam locomotive compendium. Shade Tree Books, Huntington Beach, CA. ISBN 0-930742-12-5. 
  • Lewis, Oscar (1938). The Big Four. Alfred A. Knopf, Inc., New York, NY. 
  • Orsi, Richard J. (2005). Sunset Limited: The Southern Pacific Railroad and the Development of the American West 1850-1930. University of California Press, Berkeley, CA. ISBN 0-520-20019-5. 
  • Thompson, Anthony W., et al (1992). Pacific Fruit Express. Signature Press, Wilton, CA. ISBN 1-930013-03-5. 
  • Yenne, Bill (1985). The History of the Southern Pacific. Bonanza, New York, NY. ISBN 0-517-46084-X. 
  1. ^ (August 9, 1976) "Short and Significant: SP wins Dow safety award". Railway Age 177 (14): p 8.

See also

  • California and the railroads
  • Pacific Fruit Express
  • Southern Pacific Santa Fe Railroad
  • St. Louis Southwestern Railway

External links

  • Union Pacific History maintained by the Union Pacific.
  • Southern Pacific Historical and Technical Society
  • Southern Pacific Passenger Train Consists
  • Los Angeles River Railroads

Search Term: "Southern_Pacific_Railroad"