A Chicago Train Connecting Railroad - 1930's - 1940's
Union Pacific Railroad


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up herald The Union Pacific Railroad was a major western railroad in the 1930's and 1940's, and is even larger now with it's merger with the Southern Pacific in 1996, and it's acquisition of the Chicago and North Western. It went west from Omaha to Pacific Coast cities of Portland, Seattle, and Los Angeles, the mountain city of Denver, and connected with the Southern Pacific to San Francisco. During the time the Burlington introduced the lightweight diesel-electric powered Zephyrs in 1934 the Union Pacific was developing a series of diesel-electric powered Union Pacific
Union Pacific
9-17-1941
trains of it's own. In fact, the Union Pacific introdued a streamlined train two months before the Zephyr, although it was not a true diesel. There were four names given to the diesel-electric "city" train series, the City of Denver, City of Portland, City of Los Angeles, and the City of San Francisco. The Chicago origination of these fast lightweight trains was over the Chicago and North Western to Omaha. The western connection to San Francisco was from Ogden Utah over the Southern Pacific.
The "City" trains help spark the Diesel Revolution
1934 - In February, the UP introduces a three car articulated lightweight turret nosed streamlined train set. It was engineered by EMD, built by Pullman-Standard with GE
electrics. It had a Winton 191A spark distillate engine. It barnstorms the country generating great interest, and later ran as the "City of Salina".
1934-35 - In October, the UP introduces its second articulated and its first diesel powered streamlined train set, EMD/Pullman-Standard/GE, with a Winton 201A 900hp diesel and six cars. This train was later upgraded to seven cars and 1200hp and run as the "City of Portland". Time to Portland was reduced from 58 to 40 hours.
1936 - EMD/PS/GE combined to produce a two car 1200+900hp (Winton 201A) articulate diesel-electric locomotive that was separable from the nine car train set. In May the "City of Los Angeles" was inaugurated using this train set. Time to Los Angeles was reduced from 61 hours to 39:45.
1936 - In May, June and July the UP received four additional 2 car EMD/PS/GE locomotive power sets. One for the City of San Francisco, two for the City of Denver and one spare. Times to San Francisco were reduced from about 61 hours to 39:45 and to Denver from about 20 hours to 16 hours.
The west coast "City" trains were not now operating daily. One reason was the lack of enough new train sets. The popular City of Denver was running daily, to compete with the Burlington's Denver Zephyr.
1937 - EMD E2, La Grange built, single unit 1800hp diesel-electric locomotives were now running on the City of LA and City of SF and some of the articulated locomotive sets were split and reassigned as booster power on other sets.
1940 - City of LA running every 3rd day and City of SF, and City of Portland running every sixth day.
1941-45 - During World War II a moratorium on further passenger train construction prevented the City trains from becoming daily.
1943 - City of San Francisco now every third day.
1950 - All City trains now running daily
1953 - By 1953 all the original City train Winton powered locomotives had been scrapped and replaced by 2250hp EMD E8 bulldog nosed diesels with 567 engines.
Brief History of the Union Pacific Railroad

Union Pacific east-west Transcon
1862 - Union Pacific Railroad incorporated, after Pacific Railroad Act was passed, to build west from Omaha, Nebraska. Thomas Durant is dominant stockholder.
1869 - UP completed to Promontory Summit, Utah linking to the Central Pacific which built east from Sacramento California. When completed rail lines extended across entire U.S.

Kansas Pacific Railroad
1855- The Leavenworth, Pawnee and Western Railroad was chartered.
1863 -LP&W reorganized as the as the Union Pacific Eastern Division (UPE). The UP Eastern was authorized by the United States Congress as part of the Pacific Railway Act, in order to create a second southerly branch of the transcontinental railroad, alongside the Union Pacific. The ideae was motivated in part by the desire of the U.S. government to extend transportation routes into Kansas, which had many Confederate sympathizers. The original intent of the railroad was to build a line west from Kansas City, Kansas across Kansas to Fort Riley, then north to join the Union Pacific main line at Fort Kearny in Nebraska.
1863-64 - First 40 miles completed from Kansas City to Lawrence.
1866 - The line had reached Junction City, which became the end of the first division of the railroad and where a roundhouse was constructed.
1867 - The line reached to Salina.
1868 - At ther urging of the people of Denver, the US Congress passed a law to build a second-phase extension of the line to the Rocky Mountains, with the intention of continuing past Denver through the Rocky Mountains to the Pacific, to compete with the Union Pacific main line. No funds were granted for the construction.
1869 - With backing of German investors, the railroad began construction on the Colorado extension in October 1869.
1869 - The name was changed to Kansas Pacific (KP) by an act of US congress. Land grants were included.
1870 - The Denver Pacific completed a line from Denver to Cheyenne, Wyoming.
1870 - Building east from Denver and west into Colorado the KP tracks meet at what is now Strasburg.
1874 - Union Pacific investor Jay Gould gained effective control of the Kansas Pacific.
1880, At Gould's direction, the KP was consolidated with Union Pacific and the Denver Pacific, with the new railroad taking the Union Pacific name.
1880's - The plans to uild across the Rocky Mountains westward never materialized.

Los Angeles and Salt Lake Railroad (LA&SL)
1871 - Utah Southern Railroad begins construction on a line extended south from Salt Lake City into the Utah Valley. The US and other Utah short lines are controlled by the Union Pacific.
1874 - Utah Southern Railroad Extension formed.
1879 - US builds line south to Juab, Utah.
1880 - USRE completes line furtyher south to Milford, Utah.
1881 - US, USRE become part of Utah Central Rwy.
1889 - Work on UCRE south from Milford stalled due to financial difficulties.
1899 - USRE resumes construction of line to Nevada. Substantial grading work also took place in Nevada, and the UP's stated intent was to continue expanding the line all the way to southern California.
1896 - New East Tintic Rwy formed.
1898 - Utah & Pacific Rr formed taking over US and USRE expansions from Salt Lake City south to Nevada.
1900 - William Andrews Clark acquired the struggling Los Angeles Terminal Railway with an eye to extending the line northeast to Salt Lake. Edward F. Harriman and the UP consortium objected to the Clark plan and a war ensued.
1901 - The Clark LAT Rwy was reformed into the San Pedro Los Angeles and Salt Lake Rr, which began construction on the UP right of way in Nevada.
1903 - Clark & Harriman came to an agreement where the Utah lines of the UP subsidiaries south of Salt Lake City would go to the SPLA&SL in exchange for UP's 50 % ownership of the SPLA&SL.
1903 - U&P Rr sold to SPLA&SL Rr.
1903 - NET Rwy to SPLA&SL Rr.
1905 - Clark gets trackage rights for the SPLA&SL, from he Santa Fe, over Cajon Pass, in Californisa.
1905 - SPLA&SL completes line from Los angeles to Salt Lake City.
1916 - The SPLA&SL dropped the SanPedro from its name and became the Los Angeles and Salt Lake Rr.
1916-21 - LA&SL operated independently until UP bought out Clarks 50% interest in 1921.
1921 - LA&SL operated as UP but still had a separate paper entity.
1987 - LA&SL Rr formally merged into the UP Rr.

Oregon Shoet Line (OSL)
1869 - Utah Central Railroad formed.
1871 - Utah Southern Railroad formed.
1872 - Utah Northern Railroad formed.
1872 - Salt Lake Sevier Valley & Pioche Rr formed.
1874 - Utah Western Railway formed.
1874 - SLSV&P Rr merged into UW Rwy.
1878 - UN Rr merged into Utah & Northern Rwy
1880 - UW Rwy merged into U&N Rwy
1881 - Salt Lake & Western Rw starts construction toward Tintic mining area.
1881 - US, USRE & UCRr become part of Utah Central Rwy.
1881-82 - Oregon Short Line Rwy formed as a susidiary of the Union Pacific.
1882 - OSL started from the Union Pacific main line in Granger, Wyoming and reached Montpelier, Idaho on August 5, and then to McCammon, Idaho in fall of 1882.
1884 - Between McCammon and Pocatello the OSL was shared with fellow Union Pacific subsidiary Utah and Northern's grade by adding a third rail to accommodate the standard gauge cars. The line from Pocatello to Huntington, Oregon was completed in late 1884.
1885 - U&N begins conversion from narrow to standard gauge.
1887 - SL&W completes all trackage.
1887 - Ogden & Syracuse Rwy formed.
1889 - OSL Rw and UN Rr merge to become Oregon Short Line and Utah Northern Rwy.
1889 - O&S Rwy, UC Rwy, SL&W, and U&N Rwy merged into OSL&UN.
1893 - OSL&UN went into receivership.
1895 - All Utah lines of UP subs are now standard gauge.
1897 - OSL&UN, emerging from receivership, became the Oregon Short Line Rr
1902 - Malad Valley Rr formed.
1910 - MV Rr becomes part of to OSL Rr
1987 - OSLrr merged into Union Pacific.


Oregon Railway and Navigation Company (OR&N)
Oregon-Washington Railroad & Navigation Company (OWRN)
1858 - The Oregon Portage Railroad (OP) operated 4.5 miles of track between Bonneville (on the Columbia River) and Cascade (Cascade Locks, Oregon) from 1858 to 1863. The railroad hauled primarily military and immigrant traffic.
1862 - The Oregon Steam Navigation Company (OSN) organized to provide shipping from San Francisco to and from Astoria, Portland and The Dalles on the Columbia River.
1862 - The OP was sold to the OR&N (OS&N?).
1879 - The Oregon Railway and Navigation Company (OR&N)It was incorporated in 1879 in Portland, Oregon and operated between Portland and eastern Washington and Oregon until 1896. Its 643 mile main into Idaho toward Utah became a major link in UP connection to the Pacific on a northern route.
1880 - The OR&N purchased the Oregon Steam Navigation Company (OSN). It had a line from The Dalles to Celilo.
1882 - The OR&N built from Celilo to Wallula completing the line east up the Co;umbia River to Portland.
1882 - The Blue Mountain Route had a lower pass over the Blue Mountains that was purchased y the OR&N.
1884 - The OR&N completed the Blue Mountain Route and a line east to Umatilla, OR.
1886 - The OR&N is leased to the UP.
1889 - The first train over a new branch to Spokane arrived in that city in 1889.
1890 - OR&N failed in attempt to uild line north to Tacoma, WA.
1093 - OR&N is in receivership due to Panic of 1893.
1896 - The OR&N was reorganized as theOregon Railroad andNavigation Company (OR&N) operated from 1896 as a consolidation of several smaller railroads, ran east from Portland, Oregon, United States to northeastern Oregon, northeastern Washington, and northern Idaho.
1898 - The OR&N became a subsidiary of UP titled the Oregon–Washington Railroad and Navigation Company (OWR&N).
1899 - The UP gained control of the Oregon Short Line which ran from Ogden, UT to the Idaho-Oregon border.
1900 - By 1900, the new Oregon Railroad & Navigation was a subsidiary of the Union Pacific.
1906 - In 1906, the Union Pacific incorporated the Oregon & Washington railroad company (OWR) to work on construction of a line from Portland to Seattle.
1910 - UP/OWR completed line to Seattle.
1910 - The Oregon-Washington Railroad & Navigation Company (OWRN) was incorporated in Oregon in late 1910 taking the property of the OWR.
1910. In December of 1910 the Oregon-Washington Railroad & Navigation company aquired all the assets, liabilities, and operations of the smaller companies, except two of the smallest companies were kept.
post 1910 - OWRN builds branches in Oregon, and later begins the process of abandoning unprofitable branches.
post 1910-1950 - OWRN became less visible as the UP gradually reduced the lines presence in numbering and lettering until the UP was the apparent name even though the OWRN was still a paper entity.
1936 Union Pacific formally absorbed the OSL/OWRN system, which became UP's gateway to the Pacific Northwest.

Oregon Railroad and Navigation Co. some major Branches
1882 - The Columbia and Palouse Railroad was incorporated in 1882 and built lines in Eastern Washington and Idaho.
1888 - The C&P was a non-operating subsidiary of the OR&N.

1868 - The Walla Walla and Columbia River Railroad was a wood-railed narrow-gauge railroad incorporated in 1868 with trackage insoutheastern Washington and north eastern Oregon as far as Blue Mountain.
1881 the WW&CR came under the control of the OR&N and the narrow-gauge was converted to standard gauge.
1910 - The WW&CR was consolidated into the OR&N.

1868 - The Oregon Railway Extensions Company (ORE) was incorporated in 1888 at Portland and built 69 miles of track with two branches in eastern Washington and Oregon. The railroad was a non-operating subsidiary of the OR&N.
1896 - The ORE was sold at foreclosure to the OR&N.

1886 - The Washington and Idaho Railroad was incorporated in 1886 and was also sold at foreclosure to the OR&N in 1896. The Washington and Idaho Railroad operated 154 miles of track.

Union Pacific Railroad
1862-69 - Omaha to Utah transcon built.
1865 - UP southern branch incorporated by an act of congress to build southwest from Kansas into the Indian Territories which later became Oklahoma. The line would be granted land.
1865-1880 - The Central Branch Union Pacific built and acquired lines in eastern Kansas and Nebraska and in 1880 leased them to the MoPac.
1868 - Union Pacific Southern Branch begins construction.
1870 - UP southern branch sold off to the new M-K-T Railroad. (see MKT web page)
1872 - Credit Mobilier fimamcial scandal leads toward UP bankruptcy.
1873 - UP goes into bankruptcy.
1879 - Jay Gould buys controlling interest in Missouri Pacific and includes it in the UP system. ( see MoPac web page)
1880 - UP reorganized as Union Pacific Railway, with J. Gould as dominant stockholder.
1880 - Kansas Pacific and Denver Pacific become part of UP.
1893 - UP in bankruptcy again.
1870-1893 - UP sells off some of its holdings. The central branch goes to the Missouri Pacific.
1897 - UP emerges again as Union Pacific Railroad.
1901 - UP takes control of Southern Pacific.
1913 - US Supreme Court orders UP to disband itself from the SP.
1921 - Los Angeles and Salt Lake becomes subsidiary of UP.
1934-50 - UP evolves high speed "City" passenger trains to Portland, Denver, Los Angeles and San Francisco using diesel-electric locomotives.
1936 - Oregon Short Line and Oregon-Washingto Railroad and Navigation become UP susidiaries.
1959 - UP is completely dieselized.
1980's - MP and MKT back into UP system.
1987 - Los Angeles and Salt Lake, andf OSL/OWRN formally merged into UP.
1996 - UP and SP merge as the new UP. C&NW is part of the system.

Union Pacific genealogy


Union Pacific map
Union Pacific 1941 Timetable Map


Chicago to Seattle Competition - 1931 through 1950
The 30's and 40's were an exiting time for rail competition to the northwest. Four railroads were competing for passenger riders from Chicago to Seattle; The CNW/UP, the Burlington/GN, the Burlington/NP and the Milwaukee Road. All four were content to run a train or two to Seattle with leisurely times of 60 to 64 hours in 1931.
Then the advent of lightweight streamlined diesel-electric powered trains arrived. The first entry was the CNW/UP combination with its City of Portland. The time to Seattle was cut by the "City" to 46 hours by 1940. The competition was still leisurely, with 58-59 hour schedules. The City of Portland was operating only 5 days per month at that time, so the other three competitors were apparently content to lay back. Even the City of Portland increased its Seattle time to 49 hours by 1943, probably a war time contingency.
In 1947, the Great Northern and the Milwaukee Road introduced new lightweight diesel powered trains, the new Empire Builder, and the Olympian Hiawatha, as well as a new North Coast Limited on the Northern Pacific. Now the Seattle run times were reduced to 45 hours.
By 1950, the City of Portland was on a daily schedule and the competitive times were about equal. It is interesting to note that the old Empire Builder equipment was still in use, on the GN's Oriental Limited, the Milwaukee's old Hiawatha equipment on the Columbine, and the old North Coast Limited on NP's #49. Take a look below.
Railroad Train and Name 1930 1940 19431950
CNW-Union Pacific 2455 miles
10-City of Portland (*5/mo.)46:05* 49:50* 44:35
1-5-11 59:14
2-3-14 65:05
87-17-(7-17)-Challenger66:5067:50
17-Portland Rose64:0566:5568:05
19-(21-5-25)Pacific Limited79:1076:35 78:30
CB&Q-Great Northern 2260 miles
49-1-Empire Builder 59:3559:0558:45 45:00
53-3 Oriental Limited58:15
Milwaukee Road 2260 miles
15- Olympian Hiawatha 45:00
15- Olympian 59:1558:4558:45
17- Columbine 59:30
CB&Q-Northern Pacific 2331 miles
57-1 North Coast Limited60:0058:0559:20 57:50
3-Alaskan73:2066:35
49 67:30

Chicago to Portland Competition - 1950
By 1950 the Chicago - Portland competition had settled down a bit. The City of Portland, with its fast time came in as number one. The Great Northern Empire Builder with a new and improved diesel-electric powered train was a luxury competitor though slightly slower through the mountains, but the other Q partner, the Northern Pacific was content to run a little slower even with a new train.
Railroad Train and Name Hours Miles
CNW-Union Pacific 2272
10-City of Portland 40:00
1-5-11 54:39
23-17-The Pacific 58:15
CB&Q-Great Northern 2260
49-1-Empire Builder 44:30
53-3 Oriental Limited 57:35
CB&Q-Northern Pacific 2331
57-1 North Coast Limited 57:50
49 66:50

The Union Pacific Race track - Main Line - Omaha to Ogden - 1950
The UP had a race track also, with it's City trains making good times to Portland, San Francisco, Los Angeles and Denver. The CNW brought the trains out from Chicago to Omaha in a hurry, and the UP main was fully dieselized and the city trains on fast daily schedules when we look at these speeds in early 1950. We pick 1950 to compare the UP with its west coast competitors who all had new diesel powered trains by 1950.
Train#From CityTo CityMilesMin.MPH
City of San Francisco 101 Grand Island North Platte 137 105 78.3
City of Los Angeles 103 Grand Island North Platte 137 105 78.3
City of Portland 105 Grand Island North Platte 137 105 78.3
City of Denver 112 North Platte Kearney 95 73 78.1
City of Denver 112 Julesburg North Platte 82 65 75.7
City of San Francisco 102 Cheyenne Sidney 102 82 74.6
City of Los Angeles 104 Cheyenne Sidney 102 82 74.6
City of Portland 106 Cheyenne Sidney 102 82 74.6
City of San Francisco 102 North PLatte Grand Island 137 111 74.1
City of Portland 106 North Platte Grand Island 137 111 74.1
City of San Francisco 102 Sidney North Platte 124 101 73.7
City of Los Angeles 104 Sidney North Platte 124 101 73.7
City of Portland 106 Sidney North Platte 124 101 73.7
City of Los Angeles 104 North PLatte Grand Island 137 112 73.4
City of San Francisco 101 Omaha Grand Island 144 119 72.6
City of Los Angeles 103 Omaha Grand Island 144 119 72.6
City of Portland 105 Omaha Grand Island 144 119 72.6
City of San Francisco 101 North Platte Sidney 124 103 72.2
City of Los Angeles 103 North Platte Sidney 124 103 72.2
City of Portland 105 North Platte Sidney 124 103 72.2
City of Denver 112 Grand Island Columbus 62 52 71.5
City of Denver 111 North Platte Julesburg 82 70 70.3
City of Denver 112 Kearney Grand Island 42 36 70.0
National Parks Special 86 North Platte Kearney 95 82 69.5
City of Denver 111 Kearney North Platte 95 82 69.5
Los Angeles Limited 2 Sidney North Platte 124 108 68.9
City of Denver 111 Columbus Grand Island 62 54 68.9
City of Denver 111 Omaha Columbus 82 72 68.3
San Francisco-Overland Limited 28 Sidney North Platte 124 110 67.6
City of Los Angeles 104 Grand Island Omaha 144 129 67.0
City of Los Angeles 103 Laramie Rawlins 117 105 66.9
City of San Francisco 102 Grand Island Omaha 144 130 66.5
City of Denver 111 Grand Island Kearney 42 38 66.3
Los Angeles Limited 2 North Platte Grand Island 137 125 65.8
San Francisco-Overland Limited 28 North PLatte Grand Island 137 125 65.8
National Parks Special 86 Julesburg North Platte 82 76 64.7
City of Denver 112 Columbus Omaha 82 76 64.7
City of Los Angeles 104 Rawlins Laramie 117 109 64.4
City of Portland 106 Rawlins Laramie 117 109 64.4
City of Portland 106 Grand Island Omaha 144 135 64.0
City of San Francisco 101 Laramie Rawlins 117 110 63.8
City of Portland 105 Laramie Rawlins 117 110 63.8
National Parks Special 86 Grand Island Columbus 62 60 62.0
City of San Francisco 101 Rawlins Green River 134 130 61.8
City of Los Angeles 103 Rawlins Green River 134 130 61.8
City of San Francisco 102 Rawlins Laramie 117 114 61.6
City of Portland 105 Rawlins Rock Springs 119 116 61.6
Los Angeles Limited 2 Cheyenne Sidney 102 100 61.2
Los Angeles Limited 1 Grand Island North Platte 137 135 60.9
San Francisco-Overland Limited 27 Grand Island North Platte 137 135 60.9
City of San Francisco 101 Sidney Cheyenne 102 102 60.0
City of San Francisco 101 Green River Evanston 100 100 60.0
City of Los Angeles 103 Sidney Cheyenne 102 102 60.0
City of Los Angeles 103 Green River Evanston 100 100 60.0
City of Portland 105 Sidney Cheyenne 102 102 60.0
Average Speed 6194 5471 67.9

Our Sources
Private Collection of Richard R. Parks(rp)
Wikipedia the free Encyclopedia [web](wik)
Official Guides- April 1940, November 1943, July 1950
Pacific Railroad Preservation Association(pr)
Missouri Pacific Historical Society(mph)
Diesel Victory-Kalmbach Publishing Co.
Chronicles of Oklahoma, Volume 14, No. 2 June, 1936, THE UNION PACIFIC, SOUTHERN BRANCH, By James D. Morrison
Pacific Northwest Chapter National Railway Historical Society
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Web Page Written and Maintained by Richard Parks
Copyright © Richard Parks, May 1, 2009, revised November 9, 2011