.......................................................................................................Southern Pacific Indes.....Wx4 Card Catalog
last update 7-16-23

correspondence: wx4org@yahoo.com
(photos: Wx4 Collection)

One of our longest standing mysteries regards SP Motor SP-03 in 1946. Wx4 has a small collection of train orders pertaining to its meanderings in the vicinity of Watsonville, Gilroy and Holister, but darn if we have been able to identify what it is. A weed sprayer, perhaps? Go HERE for the train orders and our past speculation. We would be very surprised if it was a repurposed passenger motor car.

We have been unable to locate SP-03 in the roster DVD that accompanies Kenneth Harrison's (absolutely fantastic) Southern Pacific Maintenance of Way Equipment book. Likewise we are unable to find the circa 1948 detector cars SP 6 4902 and SP 6 1002 seen at right.

Here's a puzzler: You'll recognize the loco. It is SP's sole extant Atlantic, now on display at Los Angeles' Griffith Park. But I'll you don't recognize the train, or location. Nope, this isn't an L.A. suburban local, or a local train out in the San Joaquin Valley. Admittedly it took me quite awhile before figuring out what and where.

This is the San Ramon Valley's triweekly mixed train stopped at Walnut Creek circa 1933. A year or two earlier, #444 had replaced #146, when the train was cut back from a daily-except-Sunday schedule. In 1934, all scheduled freight and passenger service on the branch ceased.

Presumably #3025 had no problems keeping the train moving at its specified 18.08 MPH average speed over the district.

Given that a 2-6-0 or even one of the dwindling numbers of 4-4-0's was what one would expect to pull the train, what is the deal here? There are several possibilities that come to mind, but do you have a definitive answer? the photographer's name?

extract from 1933-10-10 SP Present Status Branch Line Train Service - Jeff Asay
The early years of the Depression saw SP nearly wipe out its remaining mixed trains.


J.R. Signor has replied with a speculation that this is Gold Run.

S.R. Bush, who lives up the hill from Gold Run, says:
I'm gonna agree [with Signor] - Gold Run.  The locomotives shown are coming off the wye at Gold Run, facing West.  Helpers from Colfax would turn back at Gold Run after lifting EB's up through the "Rattle Snake" curves just west of town.  The grade East of GR is still steep (just touching 3%) but I guess it's curves are gentle enough they could afford to shed the helpers and go it alone.  I've heard it said that the Rattle Snake was the toughest part of Donner for EB's.  (Indeed: the UP derailed twice there in the last year or so, rolling over their ridiculously long trains on the inside side of curves!)

Herb Arey? Location? Handwriting on the back of this postcard says:

Mike Yoakum postulates that the location was Albany, Oregon and forwarded the valuation map at right as evidence. We think he nailed it. He also speculates that the fellow could well be Herb Arey, since Albany was within his seniority district, and we add that he surely looks like Herb.

Train Master #3034 is entering the 7th St. Diesel Shop in this view that offers an unobscured look at the facilities, including the old freight houses bordering King Street...and the tower, which apparently was a temp. This is the first photo in which we have noticed it. What is the deal with the tower, anyway?

Also, that may be Fireman J. V. Gondron on the TM's running boards in this July 6, 1969 photo. If so, he had two months and six days seniority under his belt.

square SP telegraph poles:

I suppose that if you looked hard enough, you still may find an occasional square SP telegraph pole somewhere, like this one near Klamath Falls photographed a decade ago.

This question is a gimme for some of you, and I used to know the answer, myself: When did SP stop planting square poles? And send us a photo of one that is still standing.

7-16-23: By way of reply, Jerry Harmon has kindly forwarded a collection of 2016 photos he shot of ex SP poles still performing their duties as supports for code lines in California's Butte Valley between Macdoel and Dorris. UP/SP evidently expended a considerable amount of effort to forestall these old soldiers' replacement. What their 2023 status is, we are not sure.

Left, center: Milepost 404.3
Right: Milepost unknown
Photos: Jerry Harmon

We think that this happened in mid-1986, yes? Is Engineer Lee Barnett still with us? Wx4 has more photos of the affair waiting for further details.

Our memory of the wreck is vivid - not so for the date. According to the SP M/W men with whom I worked a few years before, a student foreman (whom I knew) - unaccompanied by a real foreman - was sent to perform work on the left hand track seen here, about midway between San Jose's IBM plant (behind the photo) and Lick. He forgot to put out protective flagmen before his crew jacked up rails in order to replace ties.

The result: Engineer Lee "The Bullet" Barnet came blasting through, causing his lumber train to liberally scatter wood products aver the tracks, Monterey Highway and the adjacent housing track's backyard swimming pools. Rest assured that the roadmaster covered up the particulars. Kodachrome by unknown, Wx4 Collection

Tender Buffers:
Does anyone have drawings for various SP tender buffers? They seem to have disappeared during WW2 - can anyone confirm that? The photo was taken at Oakland, maybe about 1933-35. Note the tramps.

New 7-2-23

When did the Del Monte lose its mail cars? Image courtesy Jeff Moore from Heimerdinger #78 photo section below.