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Through train from Los Angeles to Portland in the 1930s to 1940s

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Through train from Los Angeles to Portland in the 1930s to 1940s
Posted by Jones1945 on Thursday, June 24, 2021 5:07 AM

Was the West Coast of Southern Pacific the only through train service from Los Angeles to Portland during the 1930s to the 1940s? What kinds of power hauled the train and what was the consist of this train? What were the other options if someone wanted to travel to Portland from Los Angeles by train during the 1930s to the 1940s? Thank you very much!

 

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Posted by Overmod on Thursday, June 24, 2021 7:29 AM

Jones1945
What were the other options if someone wanted to travel to Portland from Los Angeles by train during the 1930s to the 1940s?

Well, you could always go City of Los Angeles east as far as Omaha and transfer to the Portland Rose.  In those days of regulated fares, you'd pay no more for the transportation; the accommodation would be another matter.  And of course that's not 'through trains'.

I don't think there's a direct enough route other than 'the Octopus' that would justify a whole regular train between those two cities, certainly for anything larger than Railplane size and character.  You might look into whether Pickwick ever served those with Nite Coach service...

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Posted by rcdrye on Thursday, June 24, 2021 6:51 PM

The West Coast, #15-60 and 59-16 between LA and Portland, ran via Sacramento.  Connections via Oakland were also possible.

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Posted by MidlandMike on Thursday, June 24, 2021 9:00 PM

You could take UP's LA-Butte train and transfer to the CHI-Portland train at Pocatello.

I don't know if WP's Inside Passage had passenger service.

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Posted by rcdrye on Friday, June 25, 2021 7:37 AM

WP's Inside Gateway wasn't completed until the 1930s and never had regularly schduled passenger service.

The West Coast was cut back to an LA-Sacramento train in 1949 and discontinued in 1960.  SP did not put a great deal of effort into making connections at Oakland convenient, with the common station the Oakland Pier. Connections via San Francisco involved getting from Third and Townsend to the Ferry Building - about a mile and a half of what were then some fairly seedy neighborhoods.  Some Oakland-Portland trains bypassed Sacramento, turning north on the West Valley line at Davis.  Connections to those trains could be made from LA-Oakland San Joaquin Valley trains at Martinez.

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Posted by MidlandMike on Friday, June 25, 2021 10:05 PM

Earlier in the century, before WWI, Hill's Great Northern Pacific Steamship Co. ran a boat-train between Portland and San Francisco.  Train from Portland to Astoria, and the SS Northern Pacific and SS Great Northern from Astoria to SF.  The Southern Pacific also had steamships between Astoria-SF-LA.

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Posted by Jones1945 on Saturday, June 26, 2021 3:36 AM

Thank you everyone for the help. It seems the most direct alternative route besides Southern Pacific West Coast was taking a train from LA to SF, then travel to Oakland and take the Southern Pacific Cascade.

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Posted by rcdrye on Saturday, June 26, 2021 10:31 AM

Coast line trains either had Oakland sections (Daylight, Oakland Lark) or connected to Oakland Pier via Peerless Stages motor coaches.  SP did not provide any sort of transfer between Market Street (Ferry Building) and 3rd and Townsend in San Francisco, and connections were tight as it was.  It was possible to use either Market Street Railway or SF Municipal Ry. streetcars (with a transfer) or take a taxi.  There was no streetcar equivalent to today's T-Third Street.

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Posted by Jones1945 on Saturday, June 26, 2021 4:33 PM

Thanks a lot, rcdrye! I would take this route; take Oakland Lark from LA to Oakland, arrive the next morning, wait in Oakland until evening, take the Cascade and arrive in Portland the next morning. 

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Posted by rcdrye on Saturday, June 26, 2021 6:58 PM

All of the timings via Oakland have a long enough layover that the West Coast is still a better bet with its two nights and one day schedule.  A Lark + Cascade schedule was several hours longer.  The All-Pullman Lark's schedule was preceded a bit by the Coaster, a coach and sleeper train. Coach passengers changed to the Oakland Lark's coach at San Jose.

When the Oakland Pier was closed, the Oakland Lark 73/74 and Daylight connections 249/250 terminated at 16th St, a situation that only lasted a couple of years.

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Posted by Jones1945 on Monday, June 28, 2021 3:08 AM

https://digital.denverlibrary.org/digital/collection/p15330coll22/id/54521/rec/11

Train #60, West Coast; 14 cars, 35 MPH. Photographed:  near Glendale, Cal., August 2, 1940.

Perry Otto collection.

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Posted by timz on Tuesday, June 29, 2021 12:22 PM

rcdrye
When the Oakland Pier was closed, the Oakland Lark 73/74 and Daylight connections 249/250 terminated at 16th St, a situation that only lasted a couple of years.

Don't think you'll ever find a timetable showing 250/255 and 73/74 running to 16th St. Or a pic. They were discontinued in July? 1960; dunno how long they kept running to the Pier after the ferries ended in 1958.

http://wx4.org/to/foam/sp/maps/zukasETT/1960-04-24SP_Western272-TimZukas.pdf

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Posted by rcdrye on Tuesday, June 29, 2021 1:46 PM

By the 1958 ETT, the train is still listed in the ETT as the Oakland Lark, though it may have been listed in the public timetable as the Starlight if it had a name at all, since by that time the trains had been combined and the Oakland section no longer carried coaches.  You are technically correct that the Oakland Lark never operated to 16th St. as the Pullman lines were discontinued May 1, 1957.  I'm not sure of the last day of operation to the Pier, but it was during the summer of 1958.

Interesting is seeing 250/255 (correct numbers, my 249/250 were "spit wad" guesses) still there, most likely handling mail off of 90/91, the "Coast Mail".  Within a couple of months 90/91 will be diverted to Oakland, with SF mail handled (probably a single car) by Commute trains 151/154 (Commutes got a separate ETT as part of the Coast Division).  The third train listed on the Niles Sub, 335/336 is a scheduled freight train, still fairly common on the SP in 1960.  The train numbers would have been carried in the indicator board of the lead locomotive.  

The Oakland trains originated on the Martinez Sub at 16th St, operating "on signal indication" to West Oakland, under rule 82-A (pg 14 in the ETT).  The time shown at West Oakland (not a station stop) is where the trains joined or left the Niles Sub.  Trains 73/74 were discontinued May 1 1960.

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Posted by timz on Tuesday, June 29, 2021 1:58 PM

Anyone got a 1959 SP public timetable, or a 1959 Guide? I bet it doesn't show 250/255 and 73/74 at 16th St. What would be the point of towing them backwards from the coachyard to 16th St if they didn't handle passengers there?

Most likely in 1959 they ran to and from the Pier, to handle mail.

(As you see, the 4/60 employee timetable doesn't show them at 16th St.)

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Posted by rcdrye on Tuesday, June 29, 2021 6:18 PM

Because of rule 82-A, they wouldn't have to show in the ETT (it's more or less within the West Oakland yard limits).  The January 1960 OG doesn't show 74/75 or 250/255 at 16th Street, showing the sole Oakland passenger stop as First Street (Jack London Square).  Except  for the Klamath (19/20) which continued to use the Pier until July 1960 for mail only, all of SP's trains serving Oakland originated at 16th St.  90 and 91 did terminate at 16th after the mail trains were diverted to Oakland.

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