It can be strongly said the west Pacific should have never to be built.  The WP was the longtime dream that Arthur Keddie who wanted to break the southerly Pacific"s (SP) syndicate between san Francisco/Oakland and Salt Lake City. 

Such a project had actually been tried plenty of times but provided tycoon Collis P. Huntington, who regulated the SP, used his affect to avoid each attempt.  Keddie lastly outmaneuvered his nemesis by partnering with one more mogul, George Gould. 

Together, they opened up a contending line through the beautiful Feather river Canyon.  For virtually 80 year Western Pacific moved freight along its well-engineered corridor that, in total, covered slightly over 1,000 miles. 

Despite a route daunting to maintain it to be operationally remarkable to the SP"s former central Pacific corridor end Donner happen (part of the original Transcontinental Railroad).

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As a result, WP"s 924-mile line remains in service today under follower Union Pacific.  Although reasonably small, the western Pacific is psychic for many things; operating among the most successful streamliners of all time, constructing the well known Keddie Wye, and maintaining the essential "Inside Gateway."


Western Pacific F7"s, led through #914-A, head eastern with trailers near Livermore, California throughout July of 1966. Attracted Jacksich photo.

When completed in the early 20th century, the western Pacific significant one of the last significant projects of its kind ever before undertaken. 

According to Brian Solomon"s book, "Southern Pacific Railroad," the very first "Western Pacific rail Company" dates ago to the Transcontinental Railroad, included on December 13, 1862 by Collis Huntington to give the then-Central Pacific railroad (CP) direct access into the only Area. 

The line, which opened on November 2, 1869, ran from a CP connection at Sacramento to Niles via Tracy and Altamont Pass.  indigenous Niles, the line separation in the contrary directions, getting to Oakland and also San Jose.  The initial WP activate a complete of 151.06 miles and also was combined into the CP ~ above June 23, 1870. 

Huntington and also his other businessmen, Leland Stanford, note Hopkins, and Charles Crocker ("The big Four"), added another corporate layer come their growing empire as soon as the southerly Pacific agency was created on respectable 14, 1884 to manage all nature under your direction. 

The SP walk on come blossom right into one the the West"s most powerful railroads and also denied any kind of attempts at a second transcontinental link at Salt Lake City.  In his book, "More standard American Railroads," writer Mike Schafer notes how Arthur Keddie to be the most persistent. 

More Reading...

Western Pacific"s Keddie Wye Through northern California 

Sacramento north Railway, Long-Time western Pacific Property

Denver & Rio Grande Western, "Mainline Thru The Rockies"

More classic American Railroads


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Western Pacific"s "California Zephyr" passes beneath Highway 50 on Altamont happen in march of 1970 soon prior to the train was discontinued. Attracted Jacksich photo.

Notable western Pacific Passenger Trains

California Zephyr: (Chicago - Denver - Salt Lake City - Oakland/San Francisco)

Exposition Flyer: (Chicago - Oakland)

Feather flow Express: (Oakland - Portola, California)

Royal Gorge: (Oakland - St. Louis)

Scenic Limited: (Oakland - St. Louis)

Zephyrette: (Oakland - Salt Lake City)

The contemporary WP"s starts are symbolic of its whole corporate existence; always fighting for survival. Keddie"s very first effort to be the Oroville & Virginia City Railroad launched in 1869.  However, the "Big Four" quickly used their leverage to end this risk by turning investors away and also successfully lobbying congress to deny it soil grants. 


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The western Pacific rail logo. Author"s work.

Several year later, Keddie make the efforts a second time when he helped establish the san Francisco & great Salt Lake Railroad, included on May 21, 1892.  Alas, this plan met a comparable fate. 

Still undeterred and with great enthusiasm, Keddie continued his attack on the "Big Four" by incorporating the Stockton & Beckwith pass Railway in 1902. 

This recent idea plan to connect Stockton with Oroville (via Sacramento) prior to continuing northeastward with Beckwourth Pass, following the Feather River much of the way.  castle say timing is everything and as Keddie"s latest undertaking got underway, George Gould entered the picture. 

The boy of legendary mogul, Jay Gould, he was then working to complete his late father"s dream of a true, coast-to-coast railroad. 

By the 20th Century his goal to be nearing reality as he managed the Missouri Pacific, Wabash, western Maryland, Wheeling & Lake Erie, and the Rio Grande properties consisting the the Denver & Rio Grande (D&RG) and Rio Grande west (RGW).  


One of the engineering marvels of the west Pacific"s building was Williams Loop in northern California. Here, a freight train, led through U23B #2261, passes end itself near Spring Garden, California in October, 1972. Roger Puta photo.

To reach the west coastline he formed two tiny railroads, the Indian Valley and also Butte & Plumas, which would build through the Feather River and link up through his Rio Grande systems at Salt Lake City.  after ~ he establish Keddie"s intentions the two guys joined forces to develop the Western Pacific Railway on march 3, 1903. 

By then, Collis Huntington and his former associates had passed away with the southern Pacific passing into the hand of another successful tycoon, Edward Harriman. 

Just like the "Big Four" he had no attention in sharing his railroad"s monopoly but with Gould"s support and financial backing the west Pacific project moved forward. 

According come James Griffin"s book, "Rio Grande Railroad," Gould used his D&RG/RGW railroads come finance western Pacific"s enormous construction costs (the two would contribute a full of $31.5 million to the endeavor, or roughly 40%). 

With jae won secured, building crews began from both ends; to the west, track-laying released from Oroville, California top top January 1, 1906 while occupational commenced in the eastern from Salt Lake City on might 5th.  


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An official, 1934 device map of the west Pacific Railroad. Author"s collection.

While the path avoided the treacherous steep granite cliffs found along Donner Pass, the Feather River brought its own difficulties.  The canyon was exceptionally rugged with unstable rock that caused numerous slides. 

In addition, the region"s remote and also desolate nature only compounded problems. In the end, Gould and also Keddie to be rewarded for selecting the river together it afforded much much easier grades, bring about lower operational prices (Union Pacific also spent $30 million come rebuild the course in 1997 after ~ landslides inserted 100 miles out of service). 

Western Pacific railroad Timetables (1952)


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As Mr. Schafer"s publication points out, whereas southern Pacific"s Donner Pass satellite at an elevation of 7,056 feet and received about 200 customs of snow annually, Beckwourth Pass carried an elevation of just 5,221 feet and was situated completely below the eye line. 

Another advantage was the difference in grades; Donner ranged from between 1% to 2.3% during an 80-mile stretch when Beckwourth"s never exceeded 1%. The only trade-off was in all at once length with southern Pacific"s line part 138 miles much shorter (786 miles compared to western Pacific"s 924 miles).  


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Western Pacific GP35 #3004, U30B #3061, and GP40 #3520 with the fall colors of northern California in October, 1972. Roger Puta photo.

During the four years of construction, job-related was slow however steady.  The key line boasted number of noteworthy design feats as Donald Robertson points the end in his book, "Encyclopedia Of west Railroad History, Volume IV: California." 

These consisted of 43 tunnels ranging in size from 58 to 7,318 feet (the longest had a 5,676 bore close to Jasper, Nevada; a 6,000-foot tunnel at Chilcoot in ~ the Sierra Nevada Mountains; a 7,318-foot tunnel at spring Garden; and finally a 4,287-foot tunnel in ~ Niles Canyon) and a number of trestles spanning the Feather, American, and Humboldt Rivers. 

The first major accomplishment took ar on November 9, 1908 when a link was developed with the Nevada north Railway at Shafter, Nevada. 

This interchange permitted originating shipping of copper ore to be transported eastern to Salt Lake City.  Finally, ~ above November 1, 1909 a golden Spike consciousness was held within the Feather flow Canyon at Keddie, California noting the railroad"s official completion. 

Regularly reserved freight business commenced top top December first that year while passenger business launched number of months later on August 22, 1910.  builders officially turned over the building to the operating department on July 1, 1911.  Altogether, the WP had cost a complete of $60 million.


Western Pacific GP20 #2001, and a number of other Geeps, pull a freight through the Niles Canyon close to Sunol, California throughout August of 1969. Attracted Jacksich photo.

Unfortunately, there is no a strong freight base and couple of feeder branches, monetary issues materialized nearly immediately.  in ~ a decade the firm was in trouble and entered bankruptcy front to people War I.  It was reorganized as the west Pacific Railroad on June 16, 1916. 

The brand-new company took over on July 15th and also its brand-new president, Charles Levey, worked very hard to boost business.  First, he opened a branch to surrounding San Jose and also then acquired 64 mile of the narrow-gauge Nevada-California-Oregon Railway (N-C-O) on June 17, 1917. 

At a price sign of $700,000 this trackage provided WP accessibility into Reno from a connection along the key line in ~ Reno Junction (near Chat).  The deal likewise comprised a north component reaching Hackstaff (Herlong), California and also N-C-O"s west branch to Clio. 

As chronicler Dr. George Hilton note in his book, "American small Gauge Railroads," the N-C-O began as "The Nevada & Oregon Railroad," organized on June 1, 1880. 

It to be intended come interchange through the central Pacific in ~ Reno and act together a bridge line connecting northern California with the Pacific Northwest (at The Dalles, Oregon) when circumventing the Sierra-Nevada and also Cascade Mountains. 

Another course was projected come run south of Reno but no serious efforts were ever carried out on this extension.  Nevertheless, the project brought enough clout and also financial backing that it eventually opened a 238-mile key line and 32-mile branch.


Western Pacific F7"s technique Dixon Landing Road in between Fremont and also Milpitas, California v a lengthy freight train during the loss of 1978. Drew Jacksich photo.

Following a few name alters it ended up being the Nevada-California-Oregon Railway ~ above January 1, 1893.  It got to its final length on January 10, 1912 when it opened up to Lakeview, Oregon. 

After a short legal battle the N-C-O obtained full control of the so-called Plumas Branch on January 1, 1915, a lumber spur that ran 32 miles from Plumas Junction come Clio. 

With no further construction undertaken, that subsisted mostly on livestock and also grain traffic, along with the aforementioned timber business.  after ~ the WP obtained the southerly segment the was quickly converted to typical gauge, perfect the procedure on January 30, 1918. 

Later that year it abandoned the parallel Plumas Branch and also dropped the 28-mile north component to Hackstaff (in 1926 the southern Pacific choose up the remainder that the N-C-O property). 

Levey"s other significant endeavors contained acquisition of a pair the interurbans; the Sacramento northern Railway (SN) and Tidewater southerly Railway (TS). 

According to Dr. George Hilton"s and John Due"s book, "The electrical Interurban Railways In America," the SN was composed mostly of two predecessors, the Northern electrical Railway and the Oakland, Antioch & eastern Railway. The former constituted SN"s "Northern Division" when the last its southern paths to Oakland/San Francisco. 


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Western Pacific GP35 #3021, two other Geeps, and also a U-boat command a westbound freight through Quincy, California during August the 1969. Attracted Jacksich photo.

The Northern electrical was included in 1905 and later purchased the Chico electric Railway (1906), a little streetcar mechanism serving the namesake community. The NE was funded and promoted by H.A. Butters who easily eyed a connection into Sacramento. 

Running via Oroville and also Marysville this attach was established in September, 1907.  Afterwards, a series of freight branches were added reaching Hamilton City (October, 1907), forest (July, 1912), and also Colusa (June, 1913).  Overall, the Northern electric operated about 93 miles. Sacramento Northern"s "Southern Division" to be the job-related of the Oakland & Antioch Railway.

This interurban was funded by a san Francisco businessmen and also its surname soon adjusted as the Oakland, Antioch & Eastern. It started from just Point, near Oakland, wherein a link was completed with the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe (Santa Fe) and progressed eastward. In 1910 the OA&E got to Walnut and also a year later was opened up to Lafayette.

By early April, 1913 it had expanded to Sacramento and also a link with the northern Electric.  The OA&E to be hampered by a rugged profile because of its cross of the coastline Range, requiring grades of 3% and 3,500-foot tunnel.


A west Pacific freight train, led by U30B #3055 and also several EMD units, sweeps over the southern Pacific (now abandoned) on California"s Altamont pass in March, 1981. I get it Puta photo.

The Sacramento Northern Railroad was produced in 1914 as soon as the NE got in receivership. Just six years later the OA&E uncovered itself in a similar predicament and was renamed together the san Francisco-Sacramento rail (the so-called "Sacramento brief Line").

In 1922 western Pacific gained the SN because that its freight business, including the Sacramento short Line in 1927 for the exact same purpose.  A year later, the Sacramento Northern Railway was formed as a stop company, which later an unified all WP"s interurbans under this name. 

The brand-new company ongoing to flourish by opening branches to Clarksburg, Oxford and then got to downtown mountain Francisco via the brand-new Bay bridge in January, 1939. In ~ its peak, the Sacramento Northern preserved a network that 183 miles. The nearby Tidewater southerly joined west Pacific as another freight line. 

It started construction in 1911 and opened indigenous Stockton to Modesto as a standard, steam-powered system in October, 1912.  A year later electrified business was initiated (November 15, 1913).  by 1918 it included three non-electrified branches reaching Turlock, Hatch, and also Manteca the were designed solely for freight traffic. 

The west Pacific obtained the road in 1917 and also it detailed considerable business, largely in the locations of fruits, vegetables, and serving local wine producers. 


An A-B-B-A set of F7s, led by #914-A, lead an eastbound manifest freight v Altamont Pass during February the 1970. The line below belongs come the southern Pacific, i m sorry is currently abandoned. Attracted Jacksich photo.

In despite the of the an excellent Depression"s onset, the western Pacific ongoing improvements whereby it could.  The most notable was developing a connect with the great Northern through a share project recognized as the "High Line," "Inside Gateway," or "Northern California Extension." 

According to the book "The an excellent Northern Railway, A History" by authors Ralph W. Hidy, Muriel E. Hidy, Roy V. Scott, and Don L. Hofsommer, a formal gold Spike awareness was hosted in Bieber, California top top November 10, 1931 noting the occasion. 

The new corridor handled freight from san Francisco/Oakland to the Pacific Northwest, and also ultimately Chicago in competition versus the SP.  WP"s section consisted of 111.8 miles to run north native Keddie, a junction where 2 spectacular bridges and a quick tunnel were completed to kind a wye off the key line. 


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An aging west Pacific F7A at the engine terminal in Stockton, California during March of 1972. Drew Jacksich photo.

While the railroad boasted stunning scenery and also the lowest grades through the Sierra Range, revenues did not reflect these attributes. Not just did the Feather flow Canyon"s unstable geography frustrate the railroad (with numerous mud and rock slides) but solid competition indigenous the southern Pacific hampered potential.

In 1935 that experienced one more bankruptcy however World battle II witnessed record traffic i beg your pardon finally readily available some consistency.  right now the western Pacific delighted in its biggest extent, operation a network of 1,138 route miles.  The 1950"s carried excellent leadership, start with frederic B. Whitman.   

Diesel Locomotive Roster

American Locomotive Company

Baldwin Locomotive Works

Budd Company

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A pair that Sacramento northern F3A"s layover between assignments, circa 1960s. The SN was a longtime subsidiary of west Pacific and also one time electrified interurban. These extended wagons were gained from the brand-new York, Ontario & western after it shutdown in 1957. Lock were originally assigned between Pittsburg and also Antioch after electrification there to be discontinued and also later worked car ferry service throughout the delta. Photographer unknown.

Electro-Motive Corporation/Electro-Motive Division

#913A became #920A in 10/1971

#915D became #915 in 7/1975

* #917D became #917 in 7/1975

* #918A became #922A (2nd) in 9/1971

* #918D became #918 in 7/1975

* #920A became #913A in 10/1971, renumbered again together #913 in 7/1975

#921D ended up being #921 in 7/1975

* #922A became #918A (2nd) in 9/1971. 

General Electric

Thanks come the book, "Western Pacific shade Pictorial: Volume One," by Adam Clegg for assist compiling this diesel roster.


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Western Pacific GP40"s #1776 (#3540) and also #1976 (#3541) clad in your striking Bicentennial livery in ~ Stockton, California circa 1976. Henry Brueckman photo.

Steam Locomotive Roster


Number(s)

1-20

21-65

71-106

121-122

123

124

125

126-127

151-162

163-166

171-180

201-205

206-210

251-260

301-305

306-310

311-326

321-325 (2nd)

327-336

401-407

481-486

Class

C-43

C-43

TP-29

TF-17

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

M-80

M-80

M-137

MK-60

MK-60

MK-60

MK-55

MK-60

M-100

GS-64

Arrangement

2-8-0

2-8-0

4-6-0

4-6-0

2-6-0

2-8-0

4-6-0

4-6-0

0-6-0

0-6-0

4-8-2

2-6-6-2

2-6-6-2

2-8-8-2

2-8-2

2-8-2

2-8-2

2-8-2

2-8-2

4-6-6-4

4-8-4

Builder

Baldwin

Alco

Alco/Brooks

Richmond

Baldwin

Baldwin

Pittsburgh

Rome

Alco

Alco

Alco

Alco/Brooks

Alco/Richmond

Baldwin

Alco/Brooks

Alco

Alco/Brooks

Baldwin

Alco

Alco

Lima

Date Built

9/1906 - 11/1906

1909

1908-1909

1896 (Ex-Alameda & mountain Joaquin)

5/1876 (Ex-Boca & Loyalton)

3/1882 (Ex-B&L)

7/1888 (Ex-B&L)

1/1891 (Ex-Denver & Rio Grande)

1909

1924 (Ex-Florida eastern Coast)

1917

1918

6/1919

1921-1924

1919*

1926-1929

1938

6/1943


* United states Railroad administration (USRA) "Light Mikados" i m sorry were offered to the Wabash in 1920.


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F7A #913-A pops out of the tunnel along the Keddie Wye in Keddie, California together it heads ago to the surrounding yard throughout August the 1969. Drew Jacksich photo.

He oversaw a number of improvements such together installation of centralized traffic regulate (CTC) and also acquisition that diesel locomotives for main line business (the 2nd railroad to obtain such, behind only the Santa Fe). 

On in march 20, 1949 it introduced one the the most successful and fondly mental streamliners of every time, the California Zephyr (CZ). 

As a joint venture with the Rio Grande and Chicago, Burlington & Quincy, the train whisked travelers native Chicago to Oakland/San Francisco offering top-notch services and also incredible see of the American West.   

The CZ was still witnessing relatively strong ridership when an ailing western Pacific chosen to release its foot on march 22, 1970. 

Other presidents such as Alfred Pearlman, great railroader in his own right, complied with Whitman and also carried the agency through that troubled decade.  It was the industry"s deregulation in 1980 which, ironically, closeup of the door the book on the storied western Pacific. 

A collection of mergers left the railroad as a tiny fish in a large pond, surrounded by giants choose Union Pacific, southerly Pacific, and Burlington Northern.  Needing to discover a partner, Union Pacific available to purchase its much smaller counterpart and the acquisition to be made main on December 22, 1982. 

Today, the west Pacific might no much longer exist however its tradition lives on v the Feather flow Route, Keddie Wye, "Inside Gateway" and also the California Zephyr, the surname of which survives under Amtrak (albeit adhering to a slightly transformed route). 

In addition, Union Pacific has actually honored the railroad by painting SD70ACe #1983 through an motivated Western Pacific livery.

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Electro-Motive Database

In 1998 a gentleman by the name of Andre Kristopans put together a internet page highlighting basically every unit every out-shopped by general Motors" Electro-Motive Division. 

Alas, in 2013 the site closed.  However, Don Strack rescued the data and also transferred it end to his UtahRails.net website (another good resource). 

If you space researching something EMD associated please visit this page first.  The information contains original numbers, serials, and order numbers.