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During my Wx4 website's dozen years, I have encouraged contributions of material about SP railroaders, employees and managers alike. Should you have photos / biographic info outside of the scope of the Kiesel project that you would like to share with the world, please check out the Wx4 SP Railroaders Pages for details.


Dear former SP employees and officials; friends and family; railfans with an eye for faces:

History San Jose's Kiesel Collection is a unique look at Southern Pacific Company's Coast Division railroaders, as seen through their own eyes, circa 1900-1970. Many (most?) of the collection's several hundred photos came from the Engineers Room walls of San Francisco's Seventh St. Diesel Shops, and presumably decorated a similar room at Mission Bay Roundhouse in steam days. Coast Division engineers, firemen and their locomotives predominate, but other craft members and company officers frequent the photos, as well.

Most of the people in these photographs are unidentified.

History San Jose needs your help in matching faces with names. Biographic data and personal stories of ANY Coast Division (or "Coast-Side" of the later Western Division) railroaders are equally important, whether they appear in the photos, or not.

With your help, the Kiesel photographs can become an even more valuable historical and genealogical resource. See How You Can Contribute, below.

The identification project has just begun. At the bottom of the page you shall find a link to 25 representative photographs. The balance shall begin to appear in mid-summer.

I am pleased and honored to host this effort on my website!

/s/ E.O. Gibson, former SP rail; May 2015

The Kiesel Collection at 7th St., circa late 1960's.
Image 012; HSJ cat. # 1978-152-3-12

History San Jose

The Ernie Kiesel Collection of Southern Pacific Railroad Photographs was donated by its namesake to HSJ's predecessor San Jose Historical Museum in 1979. It is now housed in the museum's extensive Research Library and Archives, across the street from HSJ's History Park display of Southern Pacific 0-6-0 steam switch engine no. 1215.

Contributions and inquiries regarding the Kiesel Collection should be directed to sprr.coast

Kiesel Collection images seen on this page are the property of History San Jose. Permission to use these images must be obtained from History San Jose. Inquiries for their use should be directed to Catherine Mills, who is in charge of the collection, or Ken Middlebrook, who is overseeing the identification project:

  • Catherine Mills, Curator of Library and Archives
  • Ken Middlebrook, Curator of Collections

Engineer Ernie Kiesel

Ernest R. Kiesel was born in Tacoma, Washington on January 23, 1905 and moved to California sometime after 1920. He became a locomotive fireman on the SP's Coast Division on October 2, 1923, but the Great Depression set-back his promotion to engineer until June 26, 1941. Over the course of his career he worked on the entire division, but maintained his home in San Jose, where he worked his later years running Commute engines. His retirement date is unknown, but he apparently performed at least fifty years of service. He assumed stewardship of the Seventh St. Diesel Shop photo collection sometime in the early 1970's under unknown circumstances, and his donation to HSJ seems to have been augmented with many other photos. Ernie had a wife, Gladys (Wilson) and an unknown number of children. He passed away on May 20, 1990.

We are looking for more photos of / biographic data about Ernie, as well as information about the circumstances surrounding his collection.

Please follow these simple guidelines in contacting us:

  • Image identification - State the image number(s) in your email subject line
  • Biographical & Subject Index contributions - State the name of the person(s) in the subject line.
  • Tell us if your I.D. is positive, or a best guess.
  • Sign your email - your name will appear with your comments in the image "Description", unless otherwise instructed.
  • Send contributions to (NOT History San Jose).

How to Search the Collection

Names of people identified within the collection appear alphabetically in the Biographical & Subject Index, which is fully hyperlinked to the photos. The index also contains names, biographies and photos of other Coast railroaders not identified in the collection so far.

Jogging Your Memory

As an aid for you to place names and faces together, we have provided PDF's of old Coast enginemen rosters, as well as a copy of 1979 San Jose assignments (including Commutes) that you shall find at below right of this box. More rosters from different time periods shall follow.

The Ernie Kiesel Collection
Southern Pacific Railroad Photographs
History San Jose

Image Numbers

Page Creation Date

Last Descriptions Update

Image Numbers

Page Creation Date

Last Descriptions Update


-----------------------------------------------------------___-----______________Wx4 SP Index ----- Wx4 SP Railroader Pages------------------------------------------This page last updated: June 8, 2015