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

   Search this site or the web powered by FreeFind
Site search Web search
Model Train Help EBook

Southern Pacific

Passenger Trains

The Shasta Daylight

This information has been compiled from postings to the SP Mailing list.
I have tried to assemble it it some form of a sequence, this page still needs work...

Inaugurated between Oakland and Portland on July 10, 1949 the Shasta Daylight consists were new except for the parlor-observation cars, which had been built in 1941 for the Morning Daylight. EMD photo of a Shasta Daylight hauled by E7 ABB's -1442 x 1180 x 272k
SP Shasta Daylight #9/10 between Oakland and Portland July 10, 1949
Car Type Train #9 Train #10
Baggage-Mail 5000 5001
46-seat Chair car (News Agent) 2381 2390
48-seat Chair car (Forward) 2382 2391
48-seat Chair car (Forward) 2383 2392
48-seat Chair car (rear) 2384 2393
38-seat Chair car (Crew's Room) 2385 2394
66-seat Coffee Shop unit
Kitchen unit
66-seat Dining Room unit
48-seat Chair car (rear) 2386 2395
48-seat Chair car (Forward) 2387 2396
48-seat Chair car (rear) 2388 2397
Tavern car 10316 10317
48-seat Chair car (rear) 2389 2398
22-seat Parlor-Observation car 2954 2955

3 Baggage-Mail cars were delivered #5000-5002, all with 30' Mail compartments. #5002 being a spare car.


For color photos of SP passenger trains, see Jim Lancaster's: website

Southern Pacific Historical and Technical Society Summer 1999 Issue 61

Article: The Shasta Daylight - From Sweetheart of the Northwest to Unwanted Child by Jim Lancaster.

Another very good book about the Shasta Route is Tom Dill's "Southern Pacific's Colorful Shasta Route", ISBN 1-885614-14-1, Four Ways West, PO Box 1734, La Mirada, California 90637.

It is an all color book of the Shasta Route, with pictures from about 1940 to about 1970. The whole route is covered from Oakland to Portland, and most of the pictures have exact dates, so you can say with assurance that a Baldwin AS-616 cow and calf set (cow black widow, calf bloody nose) was used on the Siskiyou line in 1962, the same year that 3 K-Ms went through McCredie Springs. If you want to model passenger operations, the book will let you know when to run Daylight or bloody nose PAs on the Shasta Daylight and what the mail train looked like.

Hope this helps,
Mike T.

The Coach Yard made a brass HO Scale 15 car Shasta Daylight train.

Union Station Products.

According to the "Southern Pacific Motive Power Annual" for 1972 by Joe Strapac, E-7A number 6003 was returned to the builder in September or October of 1968. It would seem that the repainting to the Scarlet and Grey would be a fair assumption as it was started in 1959 (see pages 22 through 24). If you can find a copy of Richard Wright's "Southern Pacific Daylight" Volume 1, on page 292 is a head end shot and on page 293 is a small view of the engineer's side of 6003.

On page 183 of Dennis Ryan and Joe Shine's excellent book, "Southern Pacific Passenger Trains, Volume 1, Night Trains of the Coast Route", there is an excellent picture of 6003 and E7B #5916 sporting the grey/scarlet paint job. On page 178 it also details the first delivery of the E-units and says that 6003 A-B-C were delivered in August of 1947 in the Daylight scheme and lettered for the Shasta Daylight. There is another picture of 6003 on page 60 showing it in Daylight colors after the Shasta Daylight medallion and logo were removed.

The trucks were black while in the Daylight scheme and were repainted to Lard Dark Grey in the grey/scarlet scheme. The 6003 was delivered with two headlights.

Jim Scott Lompoc Valley Model Railroad Society

Actually the Shasta Daylight went from daily to a mix of tri-weekly and daily before finally being discontinued in 1966. During its operational lifetime (1949-66) it was always a day train between Oakland and Portland. It was never combined with the Cascade (the night train on the same route) although some of the Shasta Daylight chair cars began operating on the Cascade on an as-needed basis as early as 1957.

Jim Lancaster

>Were any of the Shasta Daylight coaches repainted into the General Service paint scheme? I am assuming some were.
>If so, how was the red band handled? Does the normal position fit above the large windows?

Yes they were all repainted into the SSS scheme. The scarlet letterboard just fit above the window and below the roof.

Jeff Cauthen

As Jeff says, the chair cars were all repainted. However, one Shasta Daylight triple-unit-diner remained in Daylight colors until retirement and sale to a private party.

Jim Lancaster

On the back cover of Trainline #61 (the Shasta Daylight issue) is a photo I took of #9 at Chemult, Oregon in August 1966. The train number is displayed.

Jim Lancaster

That artwork was the 'standard' Shasta Route artwork, and appeared in various forms on many SP publications. A vertical cropping was applied to the cover of the brochure printed for the "New Shasta Daylight." The URL for a view is:

A similar, horizontal, view was on a postcard issued as part of a 5-pack advertised in the Train News Service brochure. An image is located at:

John Mosbarger

Joe Strapac went through his SP PA picture file and came up with exactly ONE image of PA's running in A-B-B combination, on the Argonaut in 1953. The units are so new that he could easily interpret this view as their maiden westbound run after being set up at El Paso. It certainly could have happened, but most of the time SP ran them A-B-A. As the PBs were retired, SP began running PA's "elephant style," A-A-A. Say 95% of the time during the mid-fifties, A-B-A was the choice.

In the two articles I (Jim Lancaster) wrote for Trainline on the Cascade and Shasta Daylight I had numerous consists with Alco PAs and PBs. There were no consists with an A-B-B set. But as Joe has pointed out, there were several "elephant style," including at least one A-A-A-A.

An additional chair car was added to the Shasta Daylight for the summer of 1954 and two additional cars for the summers of 1955 and 1956 (making a 17-car train).

In reference to the lashups for the ALCO passenger units that has been discussed at great length lately, and the question "A-B-B" or A-B-A, the standard from pictures that I have seen in the books I have show the majority of times the lashup was A-B-A. Looking at "SOUTHERN PACIFIC'S Colorful Shasta Route" by Tom Dill, page 16, the Cascade is being pulled by an A-B-B lashup. On page 56 and 57, there is a center spread showing the Shasta Daylight in 1957 with the same lashup. I am not positive but on page 18 of Dill's "Southern Pacific's HISTORIC OVERLAND ROUTE - Color Pictorial -, it looks like the City of San Francisco is being pulled by the same lashup.

I am sorry that I didn't keep the post of the person that asked the question about lashups for the ALCOs but like we all have heard before on this list, if you look hard and long enough, you will probably find what you are looking for.

One of the '79 cars did survive (the 2954 I believe) and is owned by a private individual or museum group up in the Portland area. It has been used by the 4449 group somewhat regularly on excursions, most notably from my experience on the '91 Dunsmuir Daylight trains after the toxic spill. The car is, of course, in Daylight colors. The interior has been gutted and turned into a "coach".

Another Daylight car of note is (was) the combine that was used on the 1984 World's Fair Daylight. The car retains the original triple bolster trucks, and is a perfect compliment to the obs. I understand, unfortunately, that someone "crunched" the car during some switching moves and is not salvageable, which is highly regrettable. I hope that someone tries to rebuild the car. The car was really in the spotlight on the 1984 trip when the water tender had bearing problems on the Peninsula, and the train ran as God intended, GS-4 followed by a 77-CB-1 combine, down the central valley into LA. Made for some very memorable pictures!

We are indeed lucky that in the year 2000 that a very respectable Daylight train, including an original boat tail obs and articulated coach, can be assembled. The ex-Shasta Daylight coaches stranded on the NWP combined with these cars and the 4449 is as good as it gets.

The only problem is the logistics of such an assemblage. My good rail friend always laughs at me when I complain why these logistics can't be resolved. Insurance, UP's insistence on roller bearing passenger cars---plus it's neglect of respect for the predecessor railroads, are part of the obstacles that need to be overcome.

My dream excursion would be the train described above on an excursion from Portland to Medford, over CORP (minus water tender), like the shipper's special a while back. That train splitting the semaphores are the ultimate achievable SP passenger experience (in 2000) in my opinion.

OK Tom, you can laugh again.

Petaluma, CA

AFAIK, (and I was around the Cal-P from 1956 to 1967) E's NEVER ran on the Overland or Shasta routes during that time. On passenger trains, the normal power was PA's and occasionally F's, with the VERY occasional 4400 or 4300 until the end of steam and then only on 20-21 or one of the Sacramento Locals on a VERY few occasions. I NEVER saw steam during that time on the COSF, Cascade or Shasta Daylight.

Jim Ley

According to a 1951 SP timetable, the consists of the Shasta Daylight was:

  • Baggage
  • Chair cars 90-98
  • Tavern/Refreshment Car
  • Diner
  • Coffee Shop car
  • and a Parlor Observation Car.

Don Gill

The first thing to remember is that all the cars BUILT for the Shasta were smooth side cars. The parlor-observation, which was corrugated, was BUILT for the Daylight, but assigned to the Shasta at inception of the train.

That having been said, and without a lot of looking, the 1949 consist (inaugural) that I have is: Baggage-Mail 46-seat chair (News Agent) (3) 48-seat chairs 38-seat chair (Crew's room) Triple unit coffee shop-kitchen-diner (3) 48-seat chairs Tavern 48-seat chair 22-seat parlor-observation (1941 Daylight car)

There is, of course, no such a thing as "more-or-less correct." There are representations, but representations are not usually correct. They are correct only if they are correct. Otherwise they are incorrect. That having been said, I suppose one could capture the "spirit" of the Shasta by having a 15-car train of (mostly) smooth side cars whose windows were 6" taller than any other cars being built at the time (except of course for the 18-year-old parlor-observation), whose cars were smooth side (except, of course, for the parlor observation), and which had a triple-unit food service car in the middle of the train. That train would be pulled by E7s (for a short while) until it was pulled by PAs. And then there are so many things to say about the motive power itself.

And does one want a winter consist, which would be somewhat reduced after the first year or so, or a summer consist, which would be the "real" train.

These questions are all so complex that I often wonder why we (that includes me) don't just model the "vest-pocket" trains, such as the Sacramento Daylight, or other secondaries such as the El Dorado and Senator. But then, there is the ex-T&NO Sunbeam observation that worked the Sacramento trains for a time, or the Monon chair car of which I have a picture on a (probably Sacramento) train approaching the mole. Nothing is easy, is it?

It's (it is) late at night and I am feeling curmudgeonly. If you read this far, thanks. If not, thanks.


Shasta Daylight cira 1950

The parlor was only 8 years old. The orange stripe was higher than the tops of the windows to match the high window cars. The Coach Yard imported all these cars in brass in past years and may again in the future.


On the back cover of Trainline #61 (the Shasta Daylight issue) is a photo I took of #9 at Chemult, Oregon in August 1966. The train number is displayed.

Jim Lancaster

The question of the positioning of a working RPO came up on another list last year. The consensus on the list agreed pretty much with what Tony wrote above, i.e., only sealed cars could be operated ahead of a working RPO and working mail and express cars generally had to operate behind the RPO. Several people believed these were Railway Mail Service (RMS) regulations.

However, the SP seemed to offer several contrary examples. The Lark always had a baggage & express car, followed by a 60' RPO, then the first sleeper. Was the baggage & express car sealed or was it worked enroute? Did the Lark handle checked baggage in the baggage & express car? If so, it was probably worked enroute.

In the 1960s the Owl always had several baggage and mail & express cars, followed by the working RPO, then the chair cars, automat and sleeper. I don't think all of the cars ahead of the RPO were sealed. Or were they?

(The NP North Coast Limited also operated an RPO BEHIND a working water-baggage car.)

At any rate I posed the question to Frank Scheer, the curator of the RMS Library. At first Frank agreed with the others and thought it was an RMS regulation. He wrote "For safety purposes, whenever unoccupied cars were available, they were to be placed between the locomotive and the RPO. If there were no storage mail, unoccupied express, or deadhead cars, then there was no choice except to place the RPO adjacent to the locomotive. However, if the RPO was a 15-feet or 30-feet apartment with the rest of the car being storage mail, then the car was supposed to be turned so that the storage portion end of the car was coupled to the locomotive."

In a subsequent message he wrote "I'm uncertain about the regulation source, but occupied express and baggage cars were required to follow the RPO; except for unoccupied equipment, the RPO was required to be the first occupied car of a passenger train consist. I believe this requirement is in the Postal Laws and Regulations and if you want to pursue it, I could loan a copy and let you find the reference."

A couple of weeks later Frank sent me some scans of pages from "Postal Laws and Regulations of the United States of America," Edition of 1948. In a section called "Title Eleven, Railway Mail Service, Part 109, Full and apartment railway post-office cars," the following appeared in paragraph "109.5 (c) Proximity of mail cars to engine."

"(2) When practicable, one or more cars shall be operated between the engine and the railway post-office car."

About paragraph 109.5 (c) (2), Frank wrote "... the law was written so there was a lot of discretion left to individual railroads for RPO car placement vis-a-vis storage mail, express, and deadhead equipment in passenger trains."

Evidently the SP exercised this discretion on certain passenger trains.

With regard to the other question about whether sacked mail could be combined with other things, here's a paragraph from my 1999 Shasta Daylight article that appeared in the SPH&TS Trainline:

"Another change contemplated but never implemented involved the baggage-mail cars. The 52-foot baggage section was used for both baggage and closed pouch mail. An August 3, 1949 memo claimed the railroad could earn an additional $19,000 per year if the entire baggage section could be used exclusively for mail. It was proposed to partition off 15 or 20 feet of the first coach, remove the seats, and use the space for checked baggage. How far this proposal went is not clear but no changes were ever made to chair cars SP 2381 and 2390 which always operated directly behind the baggage-mail cars."

This is probably more than you wanted to know about RPOs but I find their operations to be quite fascinating. I also know that when the RPOs were discontinued in the late 1960s the delivery of first class mail went to pot. Now we pay $3.50 for Priority Mail that sometimes is no faster than regular mail.

I would like to add the following to Ken's fine explanation of mail apartments.

1. The RMS 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.

2. 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.

Jim Lancaster
Tustin, CA

The original question, of course, was what the lineup would be on a MAIL train. The RPO-baggage was indeed behind the loco on several of the streamliners (Shasta Daylight, Sunset), but not, of course, on the Coast Daylight (which had no RPO), so one needs to be specific.

Home Steam Loco Index SP MoW Index Diesel Loco Index Diesel Roster Index
Freight Car Index Passenger Car Index Structure Index Depot Index
Feed Back Caboose Index DRGW Index Miscellaneous Freight Car Spec Sheets
Data Index PicIndex Diesel Model Info
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
This document © 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008. Richard.A.Percy

Saturday, 11 June 2005