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California's Railroad to the U.S. 1861 - 1996

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Southern Pacific

Passenger Trains

The 49er


This information has been compiled from postings to the SP Mailing list.


The 49er, a single set of equipment, ran from Chicago to San Francisco starting July 8, 1937 on an every sixth day schedule, alternating with the City Of San Francisco (4th train-single set of equipment vs. the 5-6 sets needed to protect a daily Chicago-SF schedule), so that between the two trains/sets of equipment, there was a Chicago-San Francisco train every three days.

The 49er equipment was painted in a solid metallic dark gray (best description) with black and gold leaf stripping. The 49er consisted of heavyweights: (car names in in capitals)

  • kitchen-baggage DONNER LAKE,
  • dining room car ANGELS CAMP,
  • 4 compartment/3 drawing room/barber shop/shower bath JOAQUIN MILLER,
  • and three 12 section/1 drawing room Pullmans
    • CAPTAIN JOHN SUTTER,
    • JAMES MARSHALL
    • and GOLD RUN.
    These were followed by:
  • an articulated lightweight Pullman 1933-built feasability/demo car pair,
  • 14 duplex single room BEAR FLAG (formerly ADVANCE)
  • and 3 dbl bedroom, 1 compartment/lounge observation (formerly PROGRESS) CALIFORNIA REPUBLIC.
  • In late 1937, 17 roomette heavyweight ROARING CAMP replaced JAMES MARSHALL.

The 49er ran on essentially the same timings as the City Of San Francisco. Out of Oakland eastward, the train was first hauled by a P-10 Pacific to Roseville, where power was changed to a (typically AC4-6,7) cab-forward, and changed to another Pacific at Sparks for the run to Ogden. From there the train was handled by bathtub-shrouded 4-8-2 UP 7002 to Cheyenne, then by bathtub-shrouded UP Pacific 2906. After about the first year, the Pacifics were replaced on the SP by 4300 series Mountains, in order to maintain the tight schedule.

The 49er operated thru both seasons of the 1939 and 1940 Worlds Fair at Treasure Island in San Francisco bay. Last run was July 26, 1941, when it was replaced by the City of San Francisco Tenth Train, which put the City on an every third day schedule between Chicago and San Francisco.

See the dust jacket of the Shasta Edition of our new book Southern Pacific Steam Pictorial Volume II for a Mike Kotowski color painting reproduction of the eastbound 49er climbing the Sierra at dusk behind a 4300, and a black/white departure photo at Oakland Pier showing the 4300 power.

Bob Pecotich

paint correction from Jeff Cauthen.

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website logo for use in banner exchange [185 x 50] (5k) This document prepared and maintained by Richard.A.Percy.
All Corrections, Additions and Flames should be aimed at Richard Percy espee@railfan.net
This document © 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008. Richard.A.Percy

Tuesday, 13 April 2004