SP Index
First railroad photos:
a foamer's HISTORIAN'S initiation
at the San Jose Roundhouse in 1964


The Wx4 Experience started here...
Well, actually the above was shot a few years later - it's here for artistic effect.


My first attempts at railroad photography came using a cheap (actually free, for opening an account at Bank of America) box camera loaded with 120 film. One Sunday morning in January, 1964, I showed-up at SP's San Jose roundhouse, half-expecting to see steam engines. Drat! They had exited seven years prior. Still, there were interesting things to see.


The first thing that really caught my eye was not a locomotive, but rather a boxcar, the enormous size of which I'd never seen before! So, a SSW 60 foot Hydra-Cushion car (series 27000-27049) became my first railroad picture,

Picture number two was, of course, a locomotive: Fairbanks-Morse (FM) H12-44 # 1574 (2372 after the 1965 re-numbering; retired 1975) undergoing inspection next to an idling sister, a FM Trainmaster, in the roundhouse garden.
In early 1964, a foamer HISTORIAN would most likely encounter the following in San Jose:
  • Switch engines: FM H12-44, Alco S-2, 4 and 6. No GM's! (even GM's plant in Fremont was switched with Alcos in those days). The Baldwins had headed for L.A. and Oregon a year, or two, prior.
  • Freight: Mostly GP-9's, RS-32's (but not RS-11's) on locals (SD-7's on the Permanente Local, because of the steep grade beyond Monta Vista) and the new U-25b's on Coast Line through freights; Krauss-Maffei cab units and lots of F-7's from Oakland and off of the Altamont.
  • Commute Pool: H24-66 Train Masters, GP-9's, except the 5893 (later 3010) which worked the Sacramento Daylight, and of course oddball ex SSW FP-7 6462. Note that, by this date, all commute power and locally assigned switchers were painted in scarlet & grey.
  • Long-haul passenger: E's, PA's, F's, , FP's, Commute Pool Geeps and the 6462. 1-2 Geeps on the Del Monte
Later in January, 1964, facing southward at the fueling racks, we see SD-7 5328, undoubtedly a Permanente Local-assigned engine, and a whole bunch of FM's. That natural gas storage tank behind the roundhouse sat on the site of the present home of the San Jose Shark's ice hockey team - the San Jose Arena.

The same day: 2400 h.p. Fairbanks-Morse H24-66 Trainmaster 4808, later the 3028. At the time, I had no idea of what I was looking-at, and I assumed that these big beasts were SP's latest power. In reality, they were already ten years old and at exactly mid-career.
Here's the lineup that was standing behind me when I made the above photo. I believe that the Train Masters again returned to weekend freight service for the last time later in 1964, but don't quote me on this. The empty track points straight at the College Park herder's shanty, a sweet place to work - a bottle of Wild Turkey occasionally slipped to the roundhouse's hostler helper was sufficient inspiration for him to throw his own switches. Yep, this shot used to be the background for the SP Index Page.