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.

SP 4426 At Tracy (Photo)

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?

UPDATE: Various sources, including Winterail majordomo Vic Neves, have informed us that the OAMJM symbol stood for OAkland to MoJave eMpties. This might be best termed as a “regularly-scheduled special” that returned empty cement cars from the “new” Dumbarton Bridge construction site near Newark to a cement plant on the SP’s Creal branch in the early 1980s. (Some sources tell us that the train’s symbol was actually OAMJN.)

According to Paul Young in the Southern Pacific Railroad group on Facebook, “The train was typically routed via Tracy/Lathrop to Fresno and on south down the Valley to Bakersfield. Destination station of Mojave but the cars ultimately went up to the California Portland Cement plant on the Creal branch, which is compass west of Mojave by about eight miles.”

(See “Comments” below for more discussion on this subject.)

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 being 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.

Railtown Tracy (Home Page Link)


  1. Vic Neves

    OAMJM stood for OAkland to MoJave eMpties. Empty cement cars to cement plant on Creal branch west of Mojave.

    • TracyRail

      Thanks, Vic. I understand that the empties were returns from the “new” Dumbarton Bridge construction project, which was then underway.

  2. Vic Neves

    That is correct. The loaded train MJOAL/MJSJL was for the Dumbarton bridge project. It was the last regular schedule train over Altamont Pass.

    • TracyRail

      | It was the last regular schedule train over Altamont Pass.

      Very interesting – even though the SP line was still open for another fifteen years or so?

  3. Vic Neves

    Not that long. The cement trains ran until 1982. SP filed to abandon the Altamont/Niles line in September 1982. Numerous washouts and mudslides severed the route during this time. From March through June of 1985 SP management operated instruction trains for managers to be familiar with invade of a strike. One double ended train operated west of Midway. Another switcher SP 2602 operated at Altamont to practice switching..

    The Altamont was torn up in the fall of 1985.

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