History of The Southern Pacific Railroad

The Southern Pacific railroad began 150 years before Trainmasters celebrated its 15th anniversary. The SP lasted 123 years from its 1865 founding. The Southern Pacific Railroad was acquired in 1988 by the Rio Grande Industries.

From its beginning, the SP merged other railroads into its system, including one of the two railroads that helped join the United States. On May 10, 1868, the Union Pacific's No. 119 and the Central Pacific's Jupiter (#60) locomotives met face to face on Promontory Summit in Utah, and a Golden Spike marked the event - the completion of the Transcontinental Railroad. Two years later, in 1870, the Central Pacific was merged into the Southern Pacific. About 120 years later - when the Rio Grande had its own financial difficulties, the Union Pacific Railroad took over the Southern Pacific. The "espee" is now one of the heritage railroads of the UP system.

The SP, and Central Pacific partnership and their subordinate railroads used all their resources to build the 2nd Transcontinental Railroad, which was completed in 1883. This was the "Sunset Route" from New Orleans to California. In 1885, all the railroads of the group were integrated under the SP name.

There were many noteworthy firsts by the Southern Pacific, which included:

- First refrigerated cars (1886)
- Forming the Pacific Fruit Express, along with the Union Pacific (1906)
- Was the first railroad released from Government control (after World War I)
- Acquired over 87% interest in the Cotton Belt railroad (after re-privatization)
- Introduced the first diesel locomotives (1947)
- Introduced first TOFC (Trailer-on-Flat-Car) - the "piggyback" (1953)

The Southern Pacific joined with and/or acquired many railroads in its history. Some of these we may immediately know, such as: Rock Island, Texas & New Orleans, and the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe. In 1983, the SP and ATSF merged, but in 1986 the ICC (Interstate Commerce Commission) declined to approve the merger, and the new railroad - the Santa Fe Southern Pacific Corporation - was forced break up. This is when the Rio Grande Industries, mentioned above, entered the picture relative to the Southern Pacific.

Trainmasters is proud to include and operate locomotives and rolling stock of railroads - past and present - that were part of the Southern Pacific history.

Links and Sources:
- http://www.sphts.org/
- http://www.u-s-history.com/pages/h1817.html
- http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/southern-pacific-railroad-completes-sunset-route
- http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/eqs35