Tag: southern pacific

Eastbound OAMJM At Tracy, 1981

Fresh into our yardmaster’s office today is this big win off of eBay, showing Southern Pacific Railroad SD-9 4426 and partner(s?) leading a string of cars under the old Eleventh Street overpass in 1981, headed out of town toward Banta and Mossdale.

This view can no longer be replicated for several reasons, not the least of which is the tear-down and rebuild of the old overpass.

The train is identified as the OAMJM, a symbol your correspondent cannot decipher, even after consulting several old timetables. Any ideas?

Built in 1956 by GM’s Electro-Motive Division, this powerhouse began its life as SP’s 5468, then was renumbered in 1965 as 3942. A 1977 rebuild came with one final set of Espee digits as 4426, and she nearly made a full thirty years of service on the Friendly before she was tossed aside in July 1995.

Picked up by the Nevada Northern as their 204, the venerable beast continues in service, according to their website, where she “now runs excursions and provides engineer rentals.”

SP 4426 as NN 204 (Photo)

Southern Pacific 4426 in Nevada Northern livery as their 204

Nevada Northern photo courtesy of the Nevada Northern Railway, Ely, Nevada.

Southern Pacific Railway Yards, Tracy

The backside of this picture postcard has “Monday, Oct 25, 1948” penciled in script, so we’re guessing that this view of the Southern Pacific Railroad’s yard is from the mid to late 1940s.

The caption under the photo on the postcard reads “Southern Pacific Railway Yards and Shops, Tracy, California.”

If you’re looking at this photograph today, imagine yourself on the roof of the Tracy Transit Center, facing toward the new-fangled overpass that just opened, taking 11th Street over the Union Pacific tracks. From your perch, if it was 1948, you’d see the two big water tanks by the “second” roundhouse on the right. Just right of center, the “first” roundhouse is just beyond the left-most water tower.

In the foreground is a string of heavyweight passenger cars, which may (or may not) be painted in SP Daylight colors, and may (or may not) be headed to Lathrop as part of the Sacramento Daylight.

The curve of track at far right is the fabled “Brewery Spur,” which remains in place today and curls along the backside of Tracy, crossing Schulte Road behind Fry Memorial Chapel on its way to butt-ending near Valpico Road.

The card was manufactured by Wayne Paper and Printing of Fort Wayne, Indiana.

Here’s an “opposite” view of the same scene, taken from the turntable, between the two roundhouses, probably from the early 1950s:

SP Tracy Turntable (Photo, Circa Early 1950s)

A view of the SP’s Tracy turntable, looking between the old roundhouses.

Photos from the Railtown Tracy Collection, courtesy of David Jackson.

The San Joaquin Daylight, May 1968

Southern Pacific Timetable 10

From the Southern Pacific’s official Timetable #10, issued on May 12, 1968, showing a portion of the schedule for the San Joaquin Daylight for the segment during which it traversed the so-called “Mococo Line” (from MOuntain COpper COmpany) from Martinez to Tracy and back again.

At this time, the San Joaquin Daylight would depart each morning at 8:58 AM, seven days a week, from the station in Martinez, taking about 48 minutes to travel the 48 rail miles to the Tracy depot.

In the afternoon, the San Joaquin Daylight would reverse direction, departing from downtown Tracy at 3:20 PM and pulling in at Martinez at 4:08 PM.

 

San Joaquin Daylight Ad - Circa 1940s

ABOVE: Riding from Fresno to San Francisco or Los Angeles in the early 1940s? There’s no better (or more affordable) way to go than a seat aboard the recently-launched streamlined San Joaquin Daylight. (Southern Pacific Archives)

The Southern Pacific Employees Clubhouse (1913)

Here’s a tinted picture postcard of the Southern Pacific Railroad’s “Employee Club,” located for many years along an extension of C Street in the downtown Tracy railyard.

SP Clubhouse Sign

The sign above the Club’s front door…

The clubhouse served as a rest stop for SP train crews between trips — a place to grab forty winks, a bite to eat, or shoot some pool (or some bull) before hitting the high iron again.

The club lacked air conditioning in the early portion of the 20th Century, so a screened-in “porch” upstairs allowed off-duty workers to sleep beneath the stars and escape the oppressive heat of summertime evenings in the San Joaquin Valley.

The distinctive structure remained in place until the early 1960s, when it — and most of the other structures around it, including the adjacent passenger depot and yard tower — were brought down.

Barely visible on the porch (at left in the photo) are two fellows relaxing between shifts on the SP:

SP Clubhouse (Guys On The Porch, Photo Detail)

Below: what is believed to be an even earlier postcard view of the Southern Pacific “Railway Club,” as it is designated on the front-porch sign. That it’s an earlier photo is based on the absence of the fancier SP Employees Club logo/sign and the lack of mature decorative vegetation in the front yard.

SP Tracy Railway Club (Photo)

 

All photos from the Railtown Tracy Collection.

 

Tracy Yard Improvement Program Near Completion

SP Tracy Yard Opens (Elroy Pope Photo, May 1961)Back in May 1961, the Southern Pacific Railroad began moving the first of hundreds of railcars to the “other side” of the Eleventh Street overpass in Tracy, marking the shut-down of operations in the city’s downtown area — ending nearly a hundred years in the sprawling facility that included a passenger depot, two roundhouses, numerous water tanks and freight docks in the “Bowtie.”

The June-July 1961 edition of the railroad’s employee magazine, The SP Bulletin, featured a two-page article on the move, including photographs of the new yard being filled on Day One (May 16, 1961) and Tracy yardmaster Elroy Pope controlling operations from his perch in the new tower overlooking the rails, which covered (then and now) the territory from the Eleventh Street overpass all the way to Banta Road.

According to the article,

Opened just before [the] beginning of the busy San Joaquin Valley perishable season, the new yard will hold 760 railroad cars on more than 30,000 feet of track northeast of downtown Tracy. It represents a consolidation of several switching locations in the Tracy area, and is expected to speed up handling of both incoming and outgoing traffic. …

Shifting the yard to its new location required closing of one county road [presumably Chrisman Road] and extension of another [Brichetto Road, extended from F Street in Banta?], but San Joaquin County highway officials cooperated in arranging relocation of little-used road facilities.

The 1961 Southern Pacific yard, now part of the Union Pacific Railroad’s operation here, does still see significant traffic at times, and also serves as headquarters for Harbor Rail Services‘ local freight car repair facility (near the corner of Chrisman and Brichetto roads). The new yard tower, visible just beyond the Eleventh Street overpass, lasted into the 1980s before meeting the same fate as its predecessor, which had been located downtown at Sixth and Central streets before being torn down.

Here’s the original article, part one:

SP Tracy Yard Opens (Page 6)

…And here is part two:

SP Tracy Yard Opens (Page 7)

Jimmie Dameron (1933-2015)

The Tracy Press and the Tracy Historical Museum have reported the passing of Jimmie L. Dameron, a retired Southern Pacific Railroad engineer and resident of the city for the past 55 years.

Jimmie Dameron (1933-2015)Mr. Dameron, who was 81 years old, died on October 29, 2015, at Sutter Tracy Community Hospital following a brief illness. He had been scheduled to present a discussion at the museum on October 21 covering his lengthy and colorful career with the SP when he fell ill. (The program has been re-scheduled for November 18, with Stephen Ridolfi replacing Mr. Dameron. Please click here for more information.)

Born in Turlock and raised in Delhi (Merced County), Mr. Dameron and his wife moved to Tracy in 1960 when he began his career as a brakeman with the SP. He later advanced to engineer with the railroad, and served as local chairman for the United Transportation Union.

Upon his retirement from the SP, he became a part-time engineer of the Redwood Valley Railway scale model live-steam train in Tilden Park in the Berkeley hills. Over the years, according to his obituary, he was an ardent devotee of steam locomotives and was a passenger  — and sometimes volunteer assistant engineer — on numerous steam-powered trains while traveling throughout the world. He also visited countless railroad museums over the years.

Read Mr. Dameron’s full obituary on the Tracy Press website.

 

Museum Program: The Life and Times of a Tracy Trainman

Mark your calendars for the next History Seminar on Wednesday, November 18th at the Tracy Historical Museum!

The Life and Times of a Tracy Trainman

Learn about Tracy’s railroad history from someone who lived it.

Robert Firth Railroad PhotographsJoin Stephen Ridolfi for a discussion about his life and times as a Tracy Trainman. Mr. Ridolfi, a lifelong Tracy resident, worked as a Southern Pacific conductor and brakeman out of the Tracy area for 40 years. Mr. Ridolfi will describe the adventures and myth-busting life of a trainman in the San Joaquin Valley.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015
7:00 pm – 8:00 pm

Tracy Historical Museum
1141 Adams Street, Tracy

Speaker: Stephen Ridolfi

There is no charge to attend this event at the museum.

For more information, please email the Tracy Historical Museum, visit their website or phone 209-832-7278.

Thank you very much for your support of the West Side Pioneer Association and Tracy Historical Museum.

Event information via Larry Gamino, President of the West Side Pioneer Association/Tracy Historical Museum.

INSET PHOTO: Southern Pacific’s Tracy railyard, circa 1954, by Robert D. Firth. (Courtesy of David Firth.)

UPDATE:

Stephen Ridolfi - Tracy Museum

Steve Ridolfi gave a lively talk on his life riding the rails with the Southern Pacific, covering everything from getting his start with the railroad — interrupted early on by a stint in Vietnam with the Air Force — to the dangerous conditions encountered (snakes, stray box cars, random derailments and trespassers), to the grind of working 16-hour shifts in conditions that ranged from ice-cold winters to sweltering summertime. Mr. Ridolfi is also a noted portrait and event photographer. His work can be viewed on his website at RidolfisPhotographics.com.

 

Chronicling The Old Southern Pacific Tracy-Altamont Right-of-Way

The original right-of-way leading into Tracy from the Bay Area via the Altamont Pass was built back in 1873 by the Central Pacific as part of the Transcontinental Railroad linking California with the East Coast. Trains traveled in and out of Tracy from the railyards near downtown, along old Schulte Road through the original site of the Ellis coaling station, then curving up toward the foothills to Midway and Cayley, then on to the summit at Altamont.

Today, the old, original right-of-way — with the rails intact — remains in place all the way from downtown Tracy to the intersection of Patterson Pass Road and Midway Road, a few miles past I-580. Beyond that, the old roadbed, shorn of rails and ties, can be traced up through Cayley to the abandoned S.P. tunnel through the Altamont Hills, then as it winds alongside the former Western Pacific tracks (now the mainline for the Union Pacific and ACE commuter trains) into the venerable town of Altamont — once a key stop, where helper engines joined in to assist heavy trains over the summit, as well as a stop for vehicular traffic on the historic Lincoln Highway.

FEATURE PHOTO (top): The historic SP right-of-way comes to an abrupt and ignoble end along Patterson Pass Road at Midway.
INSET: A “training train,” staffed by members of Southern Pacific management being taught to operate equipment in the event of a strike, rumbles along Patterson Pass Road near Midway on the way to Altamont in this classic 1994 photograph. The strike never happened, SP merged with UP, and the line was soon abandoned and removed.

Images of how the old right-of-way looked in the Spring of 2011 appear below.

SPRR Central Avenue West (Tracy CA)

ABOVE: Standing on the former Southern Pacific Railroad  right-of-way near where Central Avenue crosses the tracks. This is the old, original mainline heading west toward Midway, Altamont, then over the hills to Livermore, Pleasanton and the Bay Area via Niles.

SP Curve West At Corral Hollow and Schulte (Photo)

ABOVE: Heading “railroad west” along old Schulte Road, past the original Ellis town site, the rails cross Corral Hollow Road, then take a long, lazy curve toward the foothills after having run in nearly a straight line since leaving downtown Tracy.

Patterson Pass Road near Midway (Photo)

ABOVE: The final stretch, alongside Patterson Pass Road (at right in the photo) and the last curve and slight climb to the grade crossing at Midway.

 

Associated Oil Tank Farm – Tracy, California

For decades, oil from Kern County was transported by rail in tank cars (appropriately dubbed “oil cans”) to this Associated Oil storage facility in Tracy, which served as a way station as the oil traveled to Port Costa. The tracks heading to the right are part of the Mococo Line, which is now a seldom-used single track that extends up through Byron and Brentwood into Antioch and Pittsburg. In the distance just right of center in the photograph is an oil reservoir (also known as the “Gravel Pit”), which was located approximately where Alden Park is today.

All that currently remains of this facility today is a group of hillocks at the corner of Tracy Blvd. and Beechnut Avenue, across from the city’s corporation yard.

Contaminated soil in the area led to a landmark court case, Cose v. Getty Oil Co., over who was responsible for waste from the tanks that had seeped into the soil surrounding the “Gravel Pit.”

Map of Tracy, Calif., showing the location of the oil depot (1955)

ABOVE: An excerpt from a 1955 USGS map of Tracy, showing the tank farm area. Note that the current Tracy Boulevard, previously known as Oil Road, did not extend across the tracks here at this time.

Google Earth view of Tracy oil depot site (2013)

ABOVE: A Google Earth aerial view of the Tank Farm area as it appeared in 2013. Tracy Blvd. curves from top to bottom at right, with Alden Park in the lower left corner.

Associated Oil "Tidewater" railroad tank car (Photo, Circa 1940s)

ABOVE: A typical Associated Oil tank car. The San Francisco-based company used “Tidewater” and “Flying A” as brand names.

 

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