SP Pages
San Jose
San Francisco &
SF Peninsula

On any large railroad, operating crews need a roadmap of sorts to figure out where customer spurs are located. Beginning in the early 1970' SP's method was SPINS, the Southern Pacific Industrial Numbering System, which had evolved out of the earlier PICL, Perpetual Inventory Car Location, PICL, or "pickle".

SPINS was also known as the Zone System. Customers spur tracks were given numbers and grouped into Zones - discrete geographic entities within a given switching district, which were also identified numerically.

For operating crews, the vital component of the system was the SPINS Book, which consisted of a list of customers sorted by Zone with corresponding maps showing customer locations. Ned F. Reed ("NFR" on the maps)of the Western Division Engineering Office in Oakland created most of the initial maps for the Coast (also Western) district books listed below

As a measure of their value, any self-respecting switchman would not be caught dead carrying a timetable or rulebook, but just the opposite held true for SPINS Books. Out in the Zones, standard engine foreman gear included a switch key, lantern and a company-issued orange plastic timetable cover containing a switch list and SPINS Book. Even the most encyclopedic of old heads occasionally found himself stumped by a SPINS number, and could be seen sneaking a peek inside the BOOK at his locker before heading out of the shanty door.


Note the Fairbanks-Morse switcher.
SPINS Books:
  • SPINS Book Covers: a selection thereof
  • Generic Preface: some books had minimal explanatory information up front, but this one is more extensive
  • San Jose: includes the Coast Main from the Santa Clara area to IBM, south of Lick; the Lick Branch; the Mulford Line in Santa Clara; the "Western" (Milpitas) Main in North San Jose; the Vasona / Permanente Branches
  • San Francisco: includes trackage fom San Bruno to downtown San Francisco; the Hunters Point Lead; the former San Francisco Belt in South San Francisco; the remains of the old Ocean View Main - the San Bruno Branch and the switching lead that headed from the Townsend passenger yard towards the former SF&SJ roundhouse area on Harrison St. Some of the maps date from 1960's PICL days.
  • San Francisco Peninsula: Coast Main from northern Santa Clara to Millbrae, including the lead to Redwood Harbor; the Dumbarton Main from Redwood Jct. to the Dumbarton Bridge's western approach

Other SPINS: