A Chicago Train Connecting Railroad - 1930's - 1940's
Southern Pacific Lines


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sp herald The Southern Pacific Railroad (SP) was an American railroad. The railroad was founded as a land holding company in 1865, forming part of the Central Pacific Railroad empire. Southern Pacific's total route mileage 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 Southern Pacific
Southern Pacific
Feb-March 1939
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.(wik)
In the 30's and 40's the SP provided valuable connections for Chicago trains traveling to and from the West Coast. The CNW passed off to the UP which took San Francisco bound trains to Ogden, Utah where the SP (the old Central Pacific) finished the runs to Oakland. The SP also picked up the Rock Island trains at Tucumcari, New Mexico to take them to Los Angeles, and to also drop off cars at Yuma, Arizona, bound for San Diego on the San Diego and Arizona Eastern. The Illinois Central also dropped cars off
at New Orleans for the SP to haul on its Sunset route to L.A. Last but not least, the Burlington and Rio Grande took trains west to Salt Lake City where the Southern Pacific and the Western Pacific shared the job of completing the Q run to Oakland.(rp)
Short History of the Southern Pacific
The SP included many many smaller railroads either purchased , leased or operated by other agreements. We will include a few of these predecessor railroads here.

Buffalo Bayou Brazos and Colorado Railway (BBBC)
Galveston Harrisburg and San Antonio Railway (GH&SA)

1847 - Uunused town lots previously allocated to the failed Harrisburg and Brazos Railroad are purchased.
1850 - The Buffalo Bayou Brazos and Colorado Railway (BBBC) is chartered.
1851 - Surveying started.
1852 - First locomotive received, the General Sherman.
1853-60 - Track completed from Harrisburg to Allytoen with a tap branch to Columbus, TX.
1860's - Civil Was prevents completeion to Austin, TX.
post 1865 - BBB&C went into receivership.
1870 - The BBBC is reorganized as the Galveston, Harrisburg and San Antonio Railway Company (GH&SA).
1873-77 - Rails extended from Columbus to San Antonio and is now knownas the Sunset Route.
1878 - GH&SA reaches agreement with Collis Huntington of the Southern Pacific toi extend the line to El Paso to connect with the SP and form the line to New Orleans.
1881 - SP surveyers plan route from San Antonio to El Paso.
1881-83 - SP acquires interest in the GH&SA and GH&SA with SP cooperation finished the line to El Paso.
1885-89 - During this period the GH&SA was leased to the SP.
1892 - A new high bridge line over the Pecos River eliminates two tunnels and steep gradient and cuts off 10 miles of the line.
1905-25 - GH&SA leases many other small rairoads in texas and continues comstruction in Texas.
1927 -GH&SA leased to the Texas and New Orleans .
1934 - T&NO merged into SP.

Texas and New Orleans Railroad (TNO)
1856 - The TNO was chartered as the Sabine and Galveston Bay Railroad and Lumber Company, (S&GBR&L) for the purpose of constructing a railroad from Madison (now Orange) in Orange County to the tidewater of Galveston Bay, TX.
1857-8 - Works started near Houston, then shifted to east and west of Beaumont, TX.
1859 - Name changed to Texas and New Orleans Railroad Company (TNO).
1861 - Track was laid for 80 miles west of Beaumont and the trackage to Houston was completed.
1862-4 - Track completed 110 miles Houston to Orange but service was irregular due to military needs during Civil War.
1867- Trinity River bridge washed out.
1868 - TNO in receivership.
1871-4 - Limited service until TNO is sold and reorganized under the same name.
1876 - Service Houston to Orange resumed and gauge changed to statndard gauge.
1878 - The Texas and New Orleans, Charles Morgan's Louisiana and Texas Railroad and Steamship Company, and the Louisiana Western Railroad Company reached an agreement and the line was finished from Orange to New Orleans.
1880 - The first through train ran from Houston to New Orleans on August 30.
1881 - TNO comes under control of Southern Pacific Lines and becomes part of a southern transcontinental route.
post 1881 - TNO continues to exist and expand while under SP control.
1927 -Galvesto Harrisburg and San Antonio leased to the TNO.
1934 - T&NO merged into SP.

Louisiana Western Railroad (LW)
1878 - The LW was incorporated March 30, 1878 for the purpose of constructing and operating a railroad extending from a point, now Lafayette, LA. to a point on the Louisiana-Texas State line, and also certain branches.
1879 - The date of organization was February 11, 1879.
1878 - The Louisiana Western Extension Railroad Company was chartered in Texas to build from Orange to the Louisiana boundary.
1878-1881 - LW by aquisition and construction completed the line from LaFayette, LA to Orange, TX. See also T&NO.

Morgan's Louisiana and Texas Raaailway (ML&T)
1852 - The New Orleans, Opelousas and Great Western Railroad (NOO&GW) was chartered .
1852 - Construction began at Algiers, across the Mississippi River from New Orleans.
1857 - NOO&GW reached Brashear (now Morgan City) on Berwick Bay, and this remained the end of the line for over 20 years. It was built to the "Texas gauge" of 5 ft 6 in the only such railroad in the New Orleans area to use that gauge.
1862-66 - NOO&GW operated by U.S.Government.
1867 - NOO&GW now extends 80 miles.
1870 - Property sold to Charles Morgan.
1872 - Line was converted to standard gauge.
1872 - Entrance to New Orleans purchased from the Ponchartrain Railroad, 1.5 miles.
1877 - The Morgan's Louisiana and Texas (ML&T) was incorporated March 8, for the purpose of acquiring and operating the railroad formerly owned by The NOO&GW and completing the line from Morgan City to the western state line of Louisiana at the Saine River, with a branch off the main to a point near Alexandria to connect with the Texas and Pacific.
1878 - Charles Morgan sold the NOO&GW to the ML&T.
1880 - ML&T builds 84 miles of main line from Morgan City to LaFayette, LA.
1879-1911 - ML&T builds main and branch lines totaling 290 miles for a systemof 385 miles.
1878 - The Texas and New Orleans, Charles Morgan's Louisiana and Texas Railroad and Steamship Company, and the Louisiana Western Railroad Company reached an agreement and the line was finished from Orange to New Orleans.
1880 - The first through train ran from Houston to New Orleans ran on August 30.

Central Pacific Railroad (CPR)
1861 - June 21, 1861: "Central Pacific Rail Road of California" incorporated.
1862 - CPR planned by Theodore Judah, and financed and operated by the "Big Four", Leland Stanford, Collis Huntington, Charles Crocker, and Mark Hopkins.
1862 - July 1, 1862: President Lincoln signs the Pacific Railway Act, which authorized the Central Pacific and the Union Pacific to build a railroad from Omaha, NB to the Pacific Ocean.
1863 - January 8, 1863: Ground-breaking ceremonies take place at Sacramento, California.
1863 - October 26, 1863: First rail laid at Sacramento.
1863-68: Central Pacific opened to Summit of the Sierra Nevada, 105 miles.
1864 - June 3, 1864: The first revenue train on the Central Pacific operates between Sacramento and Newcastle, California.
1864 - Following passage of the amendment to the Pacific Railroad Act, the company's name is changed to "Central Pacific Railroad of California," a new corporation.
1869 - May 10, 1869: The Central Pacific and Union Pacific tracks meet in Promontory, Utah.
1869 - May 15, 1869: The first transcontinental trains are run over the new line to Sacramento.
1869 - November 8, 1869: Central Pacific subsidiaries Western Pacific Railroad (1862-1870) and San Francisco Bay Railroad complete the final leg of the route, connecting Sacramento to Oakland.
1870 - Central Pacific is consolidated with the Western Pacific Railroad (1862-1870); the San Francisco Bay Railroad Co., the California & Oregon; San Francisco, Oakland & Alameda; and San Joaquin Valley Railroad; to form the "Central Pacific Railroad Co.", a new corporation (of June, 1870).
1876 - April 30, the CPR operates the California Pacific Railroad between South Vallejo and Sacramento, Calistoga and Marysville until 1885.
1883 - Standard time zones established.
1885 - CPR becomes a subsidiuary of the SP.
1899 - CPR reorganized as the Central Pacific Railway.
1959 - June 30, Central Pacific is formally merged into the Southern Pacific.

Southern Pacific (SP)
1865 - Southern Pacific founded to build from San Francisco to San Diego. Line from LA to San Diego never completed. (Santa Fe builds line to SD).
1868 - The "Big Four" purchase Southern Pacific.
1869 - CP completes line to Promontory, Utah to link with UP: First transcontinental trains operate.
1870 - CP and SP operations are merged
1873 - SP builds first locomotive at Sacramento shops.
1874 - SP reaches Bakersfield and begins work on Tehachapi loop
1876 - First through train San Francisco to Los Angeles over Tehachapi.
1877 - SP crosses Colorado River at Yuma, Arizona. SP buys Houston and Texas Central Railway to provide access to Austin and Dallas and other Texas cities.
1878-81 - The Texas and New Orleans, Charles Morgan's Louisiana and Texas Railroad and Steamship Company, and the Louisiana Western Railroad Company reached an agreement and the line was finished from Orange to New Orleans. The Louisiana Western Extension Railroad Company was chartered in Texas to build from Orange to the Louisiana boundary and the first through train ran from Houston to New Orleans on August 30, 1880. All roads are under SP control and eventually become subsidiiaries or wholly owned by SP.
1880 - SP reaches Tucson, Arizona
1881 - El Paso Texas reached.
1881 - SP, as Galveston, Harrisburg and San Antonio RR, meets Texas and Pacific at Sierra Blanca Texas to complete the nation's second transcontinental line.
1884 - Southern Pacific is incorporated in Kentucky.
1885 - CP and SP combined under a holding company, Southern Pacific Company. SP takes over operations, CP exists on paper only.
1886 - The first refrigerator cars on the Southern Pacific enter operation.
1901 - Union Pacific Railroad acquires control of Southern Pacific. In the following years, many SP operating procedures and equipment purchases follow patterns established by Union Pacific.
1903 - Southern Pacific gains 50% control of the Pacific Electric system in Los Angeles.
1904 - SP opens the Lucin Cutoff across the Great Salt Lake, bypassing Promontory, UT for the railroads mainline.
1904 - SP's Coast Line is completed between Los Angeles and Santa Barbara, CA.
1905 - SP utilizes first McKeen gas-electric rail car.
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.
1907 - With Santa Fe, Southern Pacific forms Northwestern Pacific (NWP), unifying several SP- and Santa Fe-owned subsidiaries into one jointly owned railroad serving northwestern California. ( see NWP page)
1909 - The Southern Pacific of Mexico, the railroad's subsidiary south of the U.S. border, is incorporated.
1913 - The Supreme Court of the United States orders the Union Pacific to sell all of its stock in the Southern Pacific.
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.
1929 - Santa Fe sells its interest in Northwestern Pacific to SP. NWP becomes a wholly-owned subsidiary of SP.
1932 - The SP gains 87% control of the Cotton Belt Railroad (SLSW). (see SLSW page)
1937 - SP carries "City of San Francisco" streamlined lightweight diesel-electric train from Ogden to Oakland.
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 diesel locomotives owned entirely by SP enter mainline operation on the SP.
1947 - Southern Pacific is reincorporated in Delaware.
1951 - Southern Pacific subsidiary Southern Pacific of 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.
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.
1984 - Merger of SP and Santa Fe into Santa Fe Industries not successful due to ICC ruling on subsidiary lines.
1988 - Rio Grande Industries takes control of Southern Pacific Railroad, maintaining SP name.
1992 - Northwestern Pacific merged into SP.
1992 - Cotton Belt is only major remaining SP subsidiary.
1996 - Union Pacific merged into SP. SP changes name to Union Pacific for all railroad operations.

Southern Pacific 1939 map map
Southern Pacific 1939 Timetable Map


Our Sources
Private Collection of Richard R. Parks(rp)
Wikipedia the free Encyclopedia [web](wik)
Official Guide- April 1940
Diesel Victory-Kalmbach Publishing Co.
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Web Page Written and Maintained by Richard Parks
Copyright Richard Parks, May 1, 2009, revised Oct. 27, 2011