- Southern Pacific Transportation Company
railroad_name=Southern Pacific Transportation Company
Arizona, California, Louisiana, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Texas, Utah, Colorado, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Kansas, Missouri, Iowa, and Illinois
gauge=4 ft 8½ in (1435 mm) with some 3 ft (914 mm) gauge branches
San Francisco, California
The Southern Pacific Transportation Company Reporting mark|SP, earlier Southern Pacific Railroad (1865-1885) and Southern Pacific Company (1885-1969), was an American
railroad. The railroad was founded as a land holding company in 1865, forming part of the Central Pacific Railroadempire. Southern Pacific's total route mileage has varied significantly over the years. In 1929, the system showed convert|13848|mi|km of track (in contrast to convert|8991|mi|km of track in 1994). By 1900, the Southern Pacific Company had grown into a major railroad system which incorporated many smaller companies, such as the Texas and New Orleans Railroad and Morgan's Louisiana and Texas Railroad, and which extended from New Orleans through Texas to El Paso, across New Mexico and through Tucson, to Los Angeles, throughout most of California including San Francisco and Sacramento; it absorbed the Central Pacific Railroadextending eastward across Nevadato Ogden, Utahand had lines reaching north throughout and across Oregonto Portland.
August 9, 1988, the Interstate Commerce Commissionapproved the purchase of the Southern Pacific by Rio Grande Industries, the company that controlled the Denver and Rio Grande Western Railroad. The Rio Grande officially took control of the Southern Pacific on October 13, 1988. After the purchase, the combined railroad kept the Southern Pacific name due to its brand recognition in the railroad industry and with customers of both constituent railroads. The Southern Pacific subsequently was taken over by the Union Pacific Railroadin 1996 following years of financial problems. The railroad is also noteworthy for being the defendant in the landmark 1886 United States Supreme Courtcase " Santa Clara County v. Southern Pacific Railroad" which is often interpreted as having established certain corporate rights under the Constitution of the United States.
* 1851: The oldest line to become a part of the Southern Pacific system, the
Buffalo Bayou, Brazos, and Colorado Railwaybegins construction between Houston, Texasand Alleyton, Texas.
* 1865: A group of businessmen in
San Francisco, California, led by Timothy Phelps, found the Southern Pacific Railroad to build a rail connection between San Francisco and San Diego, California.
September 25 1868: The Big Fourpurchases the Southern Pacific.
* 1870: Southern Pacific and Central Pacific operations are merged.
* June 1873: The Southern Pacific builds its first locomotive at the railroad's Sacramento shops as CP's 2nd number 55, a
November 8 1874: Southern Pacific tracks reach Bakersfield, Californiaand work begins on the Tehachapi Loop
September 5 1876: The first through train from San Francisco arrives in Los Angeles, Californiaafter traveling over the newly completed Tehachapi Loop.
* 1877: Southern Pacific tracks from Los Angeles cross the
Colorado Riverat Yuma, Arizona. Southern Pacific purchases the Houston and Texas Central Railway.
* 1879: Southern Pacific engineers experiment with the first oil-fired locomotives.
March 20 1880: The first Southern Pacific train reaches Tucson, Arizona.
May 111880: The Mussel Slough Tragedytakes place in Hanford, California, a dispute over property rights with SP.
May 19 1881: Southern Pacific tracks reach El Paso, Texas.
December 15 1881: Southern Pacific (under the GH&SA RR) meets the Texas and Pacific at Sierra Blanca in Hudspeth County Texas to complete the nations second transcontinental railroad.
January 12 1883: The Southern section of the second transcontinental railroad line is completed as the Southern Pacific tracks from Los Angeles meet the Galveston, Harrisburg and San Antonio Railwayat the Pecos River. The golden spike is driven by Col. Tom Pierce, the GH&SA president, atop the Pecos River High Bridge. The line now extends to San Antonio and Houston along the Sunset Route.
March 17 1884: The Southern Pacific is incorporated in Kentucky.
February 17 1885: The Southern Pacific and Central Pacific are combined under a holding company named the Southern Pacific Company.
April 1 1885: The Southern Pacific takes over all operation of the Central Pacific. Effectively, the CP no longer exists as a separate company.
* 1886: The first
refrigerator cars on the Southern Pacific enter operation; the loading of refrigerator cars with oranges, first performed at Los Angeles, Californiaon February 14, contributed to an economic boom in the famous citrus industry of Southern California, by making deliveries of perishable fruits and vegetables to the eastern United States possible.
* 1886: Southern Pacific wins the landmark Supreme Court case "
Santa Clara County v. Southern Pacific Railroad" which establishes equal rightsunder the lawto corporations.
* 1898: "Sunset" magazine is founded as a promotional tool of the Southern Pacific.
Frank Norris' novel, "The Octopus: A California Story", a fictional retelling of the Mussel Slough Tragedyand the events leading up to it, is published.
Union Pacific Railroadacquires control of Southern Pacific. In the following years, many SP operating procedures and equipment purchases follow patterns established by Union Pacific.
* 1903: Southern Pacific gains 50% control of the
Pacific Electricsystem in Los Angeles.
March 8 1904: SP opens the Lucin Cutoffacross the Great Salt Lake, bypassing Promontory, UTfor the railroad's mainline.
March 20 1904: SP's Coast Line is completed between Los Angeles and Santa Barbara, CA.
April 18 1906: The great 1906 San Francisco earthquakestrikes, damaging the railroad's headquarters building and destroying the mansions of the now-deceased Big Four.
* 1906: SP and UP jointly form the
Pacific Fruit Express(PFE) refrigerator car line.
May 22 1907: Coast Line Limited of the Southern Pacific Railroad derailed west of Glendale, California. Several deaths and injuries. Cause linked to anarchists.
* 1907: With Santa Fe, Southern Pacific forms Northwestern Pacific, unifying several SP- and Santa Fe-owned subsidiaries into one jointly owned railroad serving northwestern California.
* 1909: The
Southern Pacific of Mexico, the railroad's subsidiary south of the U.S. border, is incorporated.
* 1913: The
Supreme Court of the United Statesorders the Union Pacific to sell all of its stock in the Southern Pacific.
December 28 1917: The federal government takes control of American railroads in preparation for World War I
* 1923: The
Interstate Commerce Commissionallows the SP's control of the Central Pacific to continue, ruling that the control is in the public's interest.
* 1929: Santa Fe sells its interest in Northwestern Pacific to SP. NWP becomes a wholly-owned subsidiary of SP.
* 1932: The SP gains 87% control of the Cotton Belt Railroad.
* May 1939: UP, SP and Santa Fe passenger trains in Los Angeles are united into a single terminal as Los Angeles Union Passenger Terminal is opened.
* 1947: The first
diesel locomotives owned entirely by SP enter mainline operation on the SP.
* 1947: Southern Pacific is reincorporated in
* 1951: Southern Pacific subsidiary
Southern Pacific of Mexicois sold to the Mexican government.
* 1952: A difficult year for the SP in California opens with the
City of San Franciscotrain marooned for three days in heavy snow on Donner Pass; that summer, an earthquake hits the Tehachapi pass, closing the entire route over the Tehachapi Loopuntil repairs can be made.
* 1953: The first Trailer-On-Flat-Car (TOFC, or "
piggyback") equipment enters service on the SP.
* 1957: The last
steam locomotives in regular operation on the SP are retired; the railroad is now fully dieselized.
* 1959: The last revenue steam powered freight is operated on the system by narrow gauge #9.
* 1965: Southern Pacific's bid for control of the Western Pacific is rejected by the ICC.
* 1967: SP opens the longest stretch of new railroad construction in a quarter century as the first trains roll over the
Palmdale Cutoffthrough Cajon Pass.
* 1976: SP is awarded
Dow Chemical's first annual Rail Safety Achievement Awardin recognition of the railroad's handling of Dow products in 1975. [cite journal| journal=Railway Age| title=Short and Significant: SP wins Dow safety award| pages=p 8| month= August 9| year=1976| publisher=Simmons-Boardman Publishing Corporation| volume=177| issue=14 ]
* 1980: Now owning a 98.34% control of the Cotton Belt, the Southern Pacific extends the Cotton Belt from St. Louis to Santa Rosa, New Mexico through acquisition of part of the former
Rock Island Railroad.
* 1984: Northern portion of subsidiary Northwestern Pacific sold to independent shortline
Eureka Southern Railroadwhich begins operation on November 1.
* 1984: The Southern Pacific Company merges into
Santa Fe Industries, parent of the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway, to form Santa Fe Southern Pacific Corporation. When the Interstate Commerce Commissionrefuses permission for the planned merger of the railroad subsidiaries as the Southern Pacific Santa Fe RailroadSPSF shortens its name to Santa Fe Pacific Corporationand puts the SP railroad up for sale while retaining the non-rail assets of the Southern Pacific Company.
October 13 1988: Rio Grande Industries, parent of the Rio Grande Railroad, takes control of the Southern Pacific Railroad. The merged company retains the name "Southern Pacific" for all railroad operations.
* 1992: Northwestern Pacific is merged into SP, ending NWP's existence as a corporate subsidiary of SP and leaving the Cotton Belt as SP's only remaining major railroad subsidiary.
Union Pacific Railroadfinishes the acquisition that was effectively begun almost a century before with the purchase of the Southern Pacific by UP in 1901, until divestiture was ordered in 1913. Ironically, although Union Pacific was the dominant company, taking complete control of SP, its corporate structure was merged into Southern Pacific, which on paper became the "surviving company"; it then changed its name to Union Pacific. The merged company retains the name "Union Pacific" for all railroad operations.
Anarchists were blamed for a deadly railroad accident in 1907. The Coast Line Limited of the Southern Pacific Railroad was heading for
Los Angeles, California, on May 22, 1907, when it was derailed just west of Glendale, California. Passenger cars reportedly tumbled down the embankment. At least two were killed and others injured. "The horrible deed was planned with devilish accurateness," the "Pasadena Star News" reported at the time. It said spikes were removed from the track and hook placed under the end of the rail.
The "Star's" coverage was extensive and its editorial blasted the criminal elements behind the wreck. "Diabolism Incarnate" is how they headlined the editorial. It read: "The man or men who committed this horrible deed near Glendale may not be anarchists, technically speaking. But if they are sane men, moved by motive, they are such stuff as anarchists are made of. If the typical anarchist conceived that a railroad corporation should be terrorized, he would not scruple to wreck a passenger train and send scores and hundreds to instant death."
A few weeks later, an attempt to derail a Southern Pacific train near
Santa Clara, California, was foiled when a pile of railway ties was discovered on the tracks. In the early hours of June 1, 1907, a work train crew found that someone had driven a steel plate into a switch near Burbank, California, intending to derail the Santa Barbara local.
Locomotive paint and appearance
Like most railroads, the SP painted the majority of its
steam locomotivefleet black during the 20th century, but after the 1930s the SP had a policy of painting the front of the locomotive's smokeboxlight silver (almost white in appearance), with graphite colored sides, for visibility.
Some express passenger steam locomotives bore the "Daylight" scheme, named after the trains they hauled, most of which had the word "Daylight" in the train name. This scheme, carried in full on the tender, consisted of a bright, almost vermilion red on the top and bottom thirds, with the center third being a bright orange. The parts were separated with thin white bands. Some of the color continued along the locomotive. The most famous "Daylight" locomotives were the GS-4
steam locomotives. The most famous Daylight-hauled trains were the Coast Daylight and the Sunset Limited.
Well known were the Southern Pacific's unique "cab-forward" steam locomotives. These were essentially
2-8-8-4locomotives set up to run in reverse, with the tender attached to the smokebox end of the locomotive. Southern Pacific used a number of snow sheds in mountain terrain, and locomotive crews nearly asphyxiated from smoke blowing back to the cab. After a number of engineers began running their engines in reverse (pushing the tender), Southern Pacific asked Baldwin Locomotive Worksto produce cab-forward designs. No other North American railroad ordered cab-forward locomotives, which became a distinctive symbol of the Southern Pacific.
During the early days of
diesel locomotiveuse, they were also painted black. Yard switchers had diagonal orange stripes painted on the ends for visibility, earning this scheme the nickname of "Tiger Stripe". Road freight units were generally painted in a black scheme with a red band at the bottom of the carbody and a silver and orange "winged" nose. The words "SOUTHERN PACIFIC" were borne in a large serif font in white. This paint scheme is called the "Black Widow" scheme by railfans. A transitory scheme, of all-over black with orange "winged" nose, was called the "Halloween" scheme. Few locomotives were painted in this scheme and few photos of it exist.
Most passenger units were painted originally in the "Daylight" scheme as described above, though some were painted red on top, silver below for use on the "Golden State" (operated in cooperation with the Rock Island Railroad) between Chicago and Los Angeles. Also, silver cars with a narrow red band at the top were used for the
Sunset Limitedand other trains into Texas. In 1959 SP standardized on a paint scheme of dark grey with a red "winged" nose; this scheme was dubbed "Bloody Nose" by railfans. Lettering was again in white. During the failed Southern Pacific Santa Fe Railroadmerger in the mid 1980s, the "Kodachrome" paint scheme (named for the colors on the boxes that the film came in) was applied to many Southern Pacific locomotives. When the Southern Pacific Santa Fe merger was denied by the Interstate Commerce Commission, the Kodachrome units were not immediately repainted, some even lasting up to the Southern Pacific's end as an independent company, complete with the big letters "SPSF", which colloquially came to be referred to as "Shouldn't Paint So Fast." The Interstate Commerce Commission's decision left Southern Pacific in a decrepit state, the locomotives were not repainted immediately, although some were repainted into the "Bloody Nose" scheme as they were overhauled after months to years of deferred maintenance. After the 1988 purchase of Southern Pacific by Denver and Rio Grande Western Railroadowner Philip Anschutz, the side lettering on repainted locomotives was changed from SP's serif font to the Rio Grande's "speed lettering" style. The Rio Grande did not retain its identity, as Anshutz felt the Southern Pacific name was the more dominant and recognizable.
Southern Pacific road switcher diesels were well-known by
railfans for several distinct features beyond their paint schemes. The units often featured elaborate lighting clusters, both front and rear, which featured a large red Mars Lightfor emergency signaling, and often two sets of twin sealed-beam headlamps, one on top of the cab between the number boards, and the other below the Mars Light on the locomotive's nose. The Southern Pacific, starting in the 1970s, employed cab air conditioning on all new locomotives, and the air conditioning unit on top of the locomotive cab is quite visible. Southern Pacific also placed very large snowplows on the pilots of their road switchers, primarily for the heavy winter snowfall encountered on the Donner Passroute. Many Southern Pacific road switchers used a Nathan-AirChime model M3 or M5 air horn, which formed chords which were distinct to Southern Pacific locomotives in the western states.
The Southern Pacific, and its subsidiary Cotton Belt, were the only operators of the
EMD SD45T-2"Tunnel Motor" locomotive. This locomotive was necessary because the standard configuration EMD SD45could not get a sufficient amount of cool air into the diesel locomotive's radiator while working Southern Pacific's extensive snow shed and tunnel system in the Cascades and Donner Pass. These "Tunnel Motors" were essentially EMD SD45s with radiator air intakes located at the locomotive carbody's walkway level, rather than EMD's typical radiator setup with fans on the locomotive's long hood roof pulling air through radiators mounted at the top/side of the locomotive's body. Inside tunnels and snow sheds, the hot exhaust gases from lead units would accumulate near the top of the tunnel or snow shed, and be drawn into the radiators of trailing EMD (non-tunnel motor) locomotives, leading these locomotives to shut down as their diesel prime mover overheated. The Southern Pacific also operated EMD SD40T-2s, as did the Denver and Rio Grande Western Railroad.
Unlike many other railroads, whose locomotive numberboards bore the locomotive's number, SP used them for the train number until 1967, when they adopted the other railroads' "standard"...except for the SP's San Francisco-San Jose commute trains, which maintained the display of train numbers for the convenience of passengers awaiting their trains. The other major railroad which used locomotive numberboards for train numbers into the late 1960s was SP's transcontinental partner, Union Pacific.
Toward the end of the railroad's corporate life, Southern Pacific locomotives were known for being very dirty. Some
railfans jokingly observed that the railroad's heavily used locomotives were only washed when it rained.
Union Pacific recently unveiled
UP 1996, the sixth and final of its Heritage Series EMD SD70ACelocomotives. Its paint scheme appears to be based on the Daylight and Black Widow schemes.
Passenger train service
May 1, 1971(when Amtraktook over long-distance passenger operations in the United States), the Southern Pacific at various times operated the following named passenger trains:
Arizona Limited" (operated jointly with the Rock Island Railroad)
City of San Francisco" (operated jointly with the Chicago and North Western Railway and the Union Pacific Railroad)
* "Coast Daylight"
* "Del Monte"
Fast Mail (Overland Mail)"
* "Golden Rocket" (proposed, was to have been operated jointly with the Rock Island Railroad)
* "Golden State" (operated jointly with the Rock Island Railroad)
* "Grand Canyon"
Peninsula Commute" (operated until 1985, now Caltrain)
* "Rogue River"
* "San Francisco Challenger" (operated jointly with the
Chicago and North Western Railwayand the Union Pacific Railroad)
San Joaquin Daylight"
* "Shasta Express"
* "Shasta Limited De Luxe"cite book|author=Schwantes, Carlos A. |year=1993 |title=Railroad Signatures across the Pacific Northwest |publisher= University of Washington Press, Seattle, WA |id=ISBN 0-295-97210-6]
* "West Coast"
Locomotives Used for Passenger Service
EMD E9- see SP 6051
* FM H-24-66 "Train Master"
EMD GP7- SSW only
EMD GP9- see SP 5623
EMD SD9- see SP 4450
GE P30CH- leased from Amtrak
There are many Southern Pacific locomotives still in revenue service with railroads such as the Union Pacific, and many older and special locomotives have been donated to parks and museums, or continue operating on scenic or tourist railroads. Among the more notable equipment is:
* 4294 (AC-12,
4-8-8-2), located at the California State Railroad Museum, Sacramento, California
* 4449 (GS-4,
4-8-4), located at the Brooklyn Roundhouse, Portland, Oregon
* 2472 (P-8,
4-6-2), owned and operated by the Golden Gate Railroad Museum, Redwood City, California
* 2467 (P-8,
4-6-2), on loan by the Pacific Locomotive Association, Fremont, Californiato the California State Railroad Museum
* 745 (Mk-5,
2-8-2), owned by the Louisiana Rail Heritage Trust, operated by the Louisiana Steam Train Association, and based in Jefferon (near New Orleans), Louisiana
* 1518 (|EMD SD7), located at the
Illinois Railway Museum, Union, Illinois
* 4450 (|EMD SD9), located at the
Western Pacific Railroad Museum, Portola, California- former commute train engine
"For a complete list, see:
List of preserved Southern Pacific Railroad rolling stock."
Presidents of the Southern Pacific Company
Timothy Guy Phelps(1865-1868)
Collis P. Huntington(1890-1900)
E. H. Harriman(1901-1909)
Robert S. Lovett(1909-1911)
Angus Daniel McDonald(1932-1941)
Donald J. Russell(1952-1964)
D. M. "Mike" Mohan(1984-1996)
Chairmen of the Southern Pacific Company Executive Committee
* (vacant 1893-1909)
Robert S. Lovett(1909-1913)
Chairmen of the Southern Pacific Company Board of Directors
* (position nonexistent 1939-1964)
* (vacant 1972-1976)
Predecessor and subsidiary railroads
Arizona Eastern Railroad1910-1955
Arizona Eastern Railroad Company of New Mexico1904-1910
Arizona and Colorado Railroad1902-1910
Gila Valley, Globe and Northern Railway1894-1910 later AZER
Maricopa and Phoenix Railroad (of 1907)1908-1910
Maricopa and Phoenix and Salt River Valley Railroad1895-1908
Maricopa and Phoenix Railroad (of 1886)1887-1895
Arizona Central Railroad1881-1887
Phoenix, Tempe and Mesa Railway1894-1895
Arizona and Colorado Railroad Company of New Mexico1904-1910
El Paso and Southwestern Railroad
Arizona and New Mexico Railway1883-1935
Clifton and Southern Pacific Railway1883 (Narrow Gauge)
Clifton and Lordsburg Railway
Arizona and South Eastern Rail Road1888-1902
Mexico and Colorado Railroad1908-1910
Southwestern Railroad of Arizona1900-1901
Southwestern Railroad of New Mexico1901-1902
New Mexico and Arizona Railroad1882-1897 ATSF Subsidiary, 1897-1934 Non-operating SP subsidiary
Phoenix and Eastern Railroad1903-1934
Tucson and Nogales Railroad1910-1934
Twin Buttes Railroad1906-1929; Tucson-Sahuarita line sold to above in 1910. Sahuarita-Twin Buttes line scrapped in 1934.
Southern Pacific of Mexico
California Pacific Railroad(Cal-P line Sacramento - Martinez, California)
Central Pacific Railroad
* Northern Railway SP Subsidiary
Northwestern Pacific Railroad
Sacramento Southern Railroad
San Diego and Arizona Railway
San Diego and Arizona Eastern Railway
West Side and Mendocino Railroad(Willows - Fruto, California)
San Francisco and San Jose Rail Road
South Pacific Coast Railroad
Oregon and California Railroad
Western Pacific Railroad(1862 - San Jose, Californiato Sacramento, California)
Austin and Northwestern Railroad
Galveston Harrisburg and San Antonio Railway
Houston and Texas Central Railroad
San Antonio and Aransas Pass Railway
Texas and New Orleans Railroad
Arizona Eastern Railway(AZER) "since 1988 from SP"
San Pedro and Southwestern Railroad(SPSR) "2003-2006 line abandoned"
San Pedro and Southwestern Railway(SWKR) "from SP, 1994-2003"
California Northern Railroad
Eureka Southern Railroad
Napa Valley Wine Train
Niles Canyon Railway
North Coast Railroad
San Diego and Imperial Valley Railroad
San Joaquin Valley Railroad
The Central Pacific Railroad (and later the Southern Pacific) maintained and operated a fleet of ferry boats that connected Oakland with San Francisco by water. For this purpose, a massive pier, the
Oakland Long Wharf, was built out into San Francsico Bay in the 1870s which served both local and mainline passengers. Early on, the Central Pacific gained control of the existing ferry lines for the purpose of linking the northern rail lines with those from the south and east; during the late 1860s the company purchased nearly every bayside plot in Oakland, creating what author and historian Oscar Lewisdescribed as a "wall around the waterfront" that put the town’s fate squarely in the hands of the corporation. Competitors for ferry passengers or dock space were ruthlessly run out of business, and not even stage coach lines could escape the group's notice, or wrath.
By 1930, the Southern Pacific owned the world's largest ferry fleet (which was subsidized by other railroad activities), carrying 40 million passengers and 60 million vehicles annually aboard 43 vessels. However, the opening of the
San Francisco – Oakland Bay Bridgein 1936 initiated the slow decline in demand for ferry service, and by 1951 only 6 ships remained active. SP ferry service was discontinued altogether in 1958.
California and the railroads
Pacific Fruit Express
Southern Pacific Santa Fe Railroad
St. Louis Southwestern Railway
* Historic Southern Pacific Depots
* [http://www.nps.gov/history/history/online_books/geology/publications/bul/845/index.htm Darton, D.H. "Guidebook of the Western United States; Part F. The Southern Pacific Lines, New Orleans to Los Angeles." Geological Survey Bulletin 845. Washington (D.C.): Government Printing Office, 1933.]
* [http://www.uprr.com/aboutup/history/index.shtml Union Pacific History] maintained by the Union Pacific.
* [http://www.sphts.org/ Southern Pacific Historical and Technical Society]
* [http://espee.railfan.net/passenger.html Southern Pacific Passenger Train Consists]
* [http://www.geocities.com/Heartland/Ranch/1916/index.html Los Angeles River Railroads]
* [http://www.swtexaslive.com/node/4510 Southern Pacific Across Texas]
History of how the second transcontinental railroad was forged by SP through Texas, and the Transpecos region in particular.
* [http://www.catenaryvideo.com/sp.html Southern Pacific DVD]
Documents the Shasta, San Joaquin and Coast Daylight routes.
* [http://www.abandonedrails.com/article.asp?id=362 History of the Santa Ana and Newport Railroad] on Abandoned Rails.com.
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