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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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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