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Southern Pacific freight trains photo gallery

By | February 20, 2022

The Southern Pacific is Classic Trains’ fallen flag railroad of the month for February 2022

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Train navigates curve and crosses road away from camera
Southern Pacific freight trains: Mixed freight and passenger train behind small steam locomotive

Mixed train 448 leaves Stockton, Calif., for Oakdale behind freshly renumbered E-23 class 4-4-0 No. 1504. Only six 4-4-0s remained on the roster by the time of this 1938 photograph. Widemar Sievers photo, Harre Demoro collection

Southern Pacific freight trains: Mixed freight and passenger train behind small steam locomotive
Southern Pacific freight trains: Steam locomotive leads freight train on bridge

F-4 class 2-10-2 No. 3712 leads a freight across the Great Salt Lake on the Lucin Cutoff west of Ogden, Utah, in the 1940s. The line was part of the famed Overland Route where through Southern Pacific freight trains operated in conjunction with Union Pacific. Richard Haughton photo

Southern Pacific freight trains: Steam locomotive leads freight train on bridge
Southern Pacific freight trains: Steam locomotive pulls flat cars with trailers in yard alongside warehouse

At 3:30 p.m. a switcher pulls the last string of piggyback flats for eastbound train 372, the “Advance Overnight.” It departs San Francisco at 4:01 p.m. for Los Angeles. All flats loaded after that wait for the 7:35 p.m. departure of the regular “Coast Overnight” freight. The SP was a pioneer of trailer-on-flatcar service and would later develop double-stack container cars. William D. Middleton photo

Southern Pacific freight trains: Steam locomotive pulls flat cars with trailers in yard alongside warehouse
Southern Pacific freight trains: Steam locomotive with refrigerated cars on broad sweeping curve

A trainload of melons rolls east at Araz Junction in far southeast California, just miles from Yuma, Ariz. Southern Pacific freight trains moved fresh California produce on both its Sunset Route, here, and the Overland Route east of Sacramento. Classic Trains collection

Southern Pacific freight trains: Steam locomotive with refrigerated cars on broad sweeping curve
Streamlined diesel locomotives on freight train winding through curves on mountainside

This eastbound Southern Pacific freight train is on the upper side of Long Ravine, just east of Colfax, Calif., on Donner Pass in April 1950. While the head end displays a set of modern F unit diesels, the helper on the rear is a classic AC-class cab-forward steam locomotive. Jim Morley photo

Streamlined diesel locomotives on freight train winding through curves on mountainside
Three diesel locomotives with hopper cars on curve

One of the new GP20s on the Coast Division drags a sugar beet train at Casmalia, Calif., in April 1962. This operation near San Luis Obispo was distinctive among Southern Pacific freight trains. Don Sims photo

Three diesel locomotives with hopper cars on curve
Tank car train snakes through snow-covered mountains

A 77-car unit oil train climbs the Sierra mountains westbound at Andover, Calif., in May 1975. Three Union Pacific SD40s are on the head end. The four-unit helper set visible was cut in 50-cars back at Sparks, Nev. Tim Zukas photo

Tank car train snakes through snow-covered mountains
Five diesel locomotives lead freight train snaking through hills

Westbound empty reefers descend Donner Pass near Weimar, Calif., in June 1972. The SP would handoff solid trains of loaded reefers to the Union Pacific in Ogden, Utah, to forward to markets in the East. This train is operating with three SP SD45s and two Union Pacific SD40s on the head end. Russ Sharp photo

Five diesel locomotives lead freight train snaking through hills
Train navigates curve and crosses road away from camera

An eastbound 114-car freight is photographed at Dutch Flat, Calif., on Donner Pass. It has two SD45s and two SD40s on the head end plus five more six-axle units cut in 63 cars back. A variety of traffic is carried here in flat, box, and tanks cars, a mix typical of Southern Pacific freight trains. Tim Zukas photo

Train navigates curve and crosses road away from camera
Early container train passes over low concrete bridge

Double stacked oceangoing containers move in symbol freight AVBAT on Paisano Pass west of Alpine, Texas, in April 1983. The railroad was a pioneer in doublestack container service with American Presidential Lines and Sealand bringing a new look to Southern Pacific freight trains. Bob MacDonald photo

Early container train passes over low concrete bridge

Southern Pacific Freight Trains: Classic Trains editors are celebrating the history, heritage, and style of the Southern Pacific all through February 2022. Please enjoy this photo gallery of Southern Pacific freight trains selected from the archives of Kalmbach Media’s David P. Morgan Library.

Southern Pacific freight trains carried many commodities. Famously, the SP hauled sugar beets on the California coast, lumber from Northern California and Oregon, iron ore in Southern California, and oil from Texas. The railroad was also a pioneer in intermodal service fielding the first double-stacked containers in the late 1970s.

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