Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Southern Pacific Railroad
By 1900, the Southern Pacific Company had grown into a major railroad system that incorporated a lot of smaller companies, such as the Texas and New Orleans Railroad and Morgan's Louisiana and Texas Railroad , and that extended from New Orleans through Texas to El Paso, across New Mexico and through Tucson, Arizona, to Los Angeles, throughout most of California including San Francisco and Sacramento; it absorbed the Central Pacific Railroad extending eastward across Nevada to Ogden, 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 & 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 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.
- 1851: The oldest line to become a part of the Southern Pacific system, the Buffalo Bayou, Brazos & 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.
- 1879: Southern Pacific engineers experiment with the first oil-fired locomotives.
- March 20 1880: The first Southern Pacific train reaches Tucson, AZ.
- 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 & San Antonio 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.
- 1898: Sunset magazine is founded as a promotional tool of the Southern Pacific.
- 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 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.
- 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 to Chicago through acquisition of the former Rock Island Railroad.
- 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 SFSP 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 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
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 silver, 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-hauled trains were the Coast Daylight and the Sunset Limited.
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.
Most passenger units were painted originally in the Daylight scheme as described above, though some were painted in Golden State livery (red on top, silver below) for use on the Golden State Limited to Chicago. Later, SP standardised 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. After the merger with the Denver & Rio Grande Western Railroad, the side lettering became often done in the Rio Grande 'speed lettering' style.
Unlike many other railroads, whose locomotives' numberboards bore the locomotive's number, the SP used them for the train number.
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 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)
Chairmen of the Southern Pacific Company Executive Committee
- Leland Stanford (1890-1893)
- (vacant 1893-1909)
- Robert 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)
- Diebert, Timothy S. and Strapac, Joseph A. (1987). Southern Pacific Company steam locomotive compendium. Shade Tree Books, Huntington Beach, CA. .
- Yenne, Bill (1985). The History of the Southern Pacific. Bonanza, New York, NY. ISBN 0-517-46084X.
- Thompson, Anthony W., et al (1992). Pacific Fruit Express. Signature Press, Wilton, CA. ISBN 1-930013-03-5.
- San Diego and Arizona Railway
- San Diego and Arizona Eastern Railway
- Southern Pacific Santa Fe Railroad
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