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

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Southern Pacific

Passenger Trains


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

Railway Age for 1 Feb 1930 says the 'Coach Special' started in Jan-Feb 1927 as a weekly train with a coach fare of $15 SF-Portland instead of the usual $26.96. In 5/28 it became daily; in 5/29 it became the Klamath with a diner and sleepers and the $15 coach fare applied to all trains. (All trains with coaches, that is.)

In April 1933, at the worst of the Great Depression, the Klamath as Train #5 was only westbound.

By August of 1939, the Klamath was Train #19/20

The Klamath was a 'heavyweight' train of coaches and Tourist and Standard sleepers that ran from Oakland to Portland, with one Baggage Express, one Tourist Sleeper, and one 10-1-2 Sleeper that went on to Seattle (via NP).

Circa 1950: Train #19/20 the KLAMATH was mostly heavyweight, with many headend baggage/mail cars (a lot of harriman cars) and was pulled by a GS-class or a MT class loco. To see great video check out SP's shasta route cira 1950 VOL.II

Schedules of the Klamath and Shasta (not Shasta Daylight, but the earlier train #7/8), were interlaced when they both ran, the former via the Cascade line and the latter the Siskiyou line. The Shasta was the last Siskiyou through train, pulled off in the late 1930s. For quite some time in the 1930s, and again from 1949 the Klamath was the third and bottom-ranked train on the Portland line, making all stops. Power was mostly 4300s. But GS-1s were used regularly in Oakland-Portland passenger service until a number went to Texas in the early 1940s. GS-6 class acquired in 1943 replaced them in the Portland pool. For some time in the 1930s, Portland Division P-8, 10 class Pacifics were used on trains 7-8 between Portland and Klamath Falls.

The Railway Mail Service may have contracted for a 60' apartment on a given train, but if for some reason a car with a 60' apartment was not available, the railroad could run two cars with 30' apartments, where the mail apartments were back-to-back.

Some mail trains carried more than one RPO but that was not too common on the SP, at least not in the 50s and 60s. An example of one train that did on the SP was the Klamath which had two 30' RPOs after about 1954. They were initially run back-to-back but in later years usually had a storage car between them.

The 1946 SP Equipment circular lists the Klamath:

  • with 7 Baggage-Express cars
  • mail - baggage
  • Coach
  • chair
  • 16 section tourist sleeper
  • diner
  • 12-1 sleeper
  • 10-1-2 sleeper.

The West Bound train picked up another 10-1-2 pullman, chair and baggage car in Dunsmuir.

Here's an "official" fall/winter consist for the southbound Klamath leaving Portland in 1954. It's from the SP Equipment Circular No. 14, Correction 1224, dated October 1, 1954. All cars would have been heavyweight cars.

  • 9 Baggage, Mail and Express cars (including 1 to Salem, 1 to Albany)
  • Baggage-RPO (30' mail apartment)
  • Coach (News Agent)
  • Chair Car
  • Diner
  • Standard Sleeper 10-1-2
  • Standard Sleeper 12-1
  • Coach (Sunday only to K. Falls)

The northbound consist was similar except it picked up one Baggage & Express car at Eugene and none at Albany or Salem.

Depending on the date; The Klamath once had all of the above, but in the final years it had only a rider coach behind the head end cars.


  • Ken R Clark
  • Jim Lancaster
  • Jason Seger
  • Captain Jack
  • A.D. McLennan
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Wednesday, September 11, 2002