Southern Pacific in the San Fernando Valley in the early 1970s

The San Fernando Valley inside of and adjacent to Los Angeles has a rich history.  A number of Indian tribes lived there prior to the arrival of the Spanish in 1769.  Missions dotted the landscape.  The Valley became part of United States in the late 1840s.  The Southern Pacific arrived in the 1870s.  Wheat and other commodities produced in the Valley were important sources of traffic.  Overtime, the SP spread across the Valley.

About a hundred years later, my friend B. Smith was on hand to see how things were going.

Unknown date in early 1972 (All captions by B. Smith)

Today's local.  Trains ran daily in 1972.---©photo by B. Smith

Today’s local. Trains ran daily in 1972.—©photo by B. Smith

The #2617 was the regular as you shall see…

Bakery still using rail, though no covered hoppers this day.--©photo B. Smith

Bakery still using rail, though no covered hoppers this day.–©photo B. Smith

SP's San Fernando Valley branch had many building supply firms served by sidings and team tracks.  All inbound loads, outbound empties.--©photo B. Smith

SP’s San Fernando Valley branch had many building supply firms served by sidings and team tracks. All inbound loads, outbound empties.–©photo B. Smith

The old Van Nuys freight station is now leased as as a warehouse when this photo was taken.  I believe carpeting was being stored in it for a local business. --©photo B. Smith

The old Van Nuys freight station is now leased as as a warehouse when this photo was taken. I believe carpeting was being stored in it for a local business. –©photo B. Smith

A short siding for a building supply firm with a UP box car, with roof walk, spotted for unloading. --©photo B. Smith

A short siding for a building supply firm with a UP box car, with roof walk, spotted for unloading. –©photo B. Smith

A view of the ready mix concrete business that received rail shipments.  --©photo B. Smith

A view of the ready mix concrete business that received rail shipments. –©photo B. Smith

July 1972

July 1972  -- SP's San Fernando Valley local that ran from Burbank to Chatsworth.  There were a number of lumber and building supply sidings, a bakery, a warehouse that received furniture, and team tracks. --©photo B. Smith

SP’s San Fernando Valley local that ran from Burbank to Chatsworth. There were a number of lumber and building supply sidings, a bakery, a warehouse that received furniture, and team tracks. –©photo B. Smith

Team track in Reseda. --©photo B. Smith

Team track in Reseda. –©photo B. Smith

--©photo B. Smith

Team track. –©photo B. Smith

May 1973

Team track in Van Nuys, CA. May 1973 --©photo B. Smith

Team track in Van Nuys, CA. May 1973 –©photo B. Smith

Sadly, the tracks have been removed, probably in the 80's, and the right of way is now an express rapid transit bus line. --©photo B. Smith

Sadly, the tracks have been removed, probably in the 1980’s, and the right of way is now an express rapid transit bus line. –©photo B. Smith

I can just see a Rockford Files episode being filmed here the next year when its production began in 1974.  I can almost make out Jimbo’s orange-gold Pontiac Firebird Esprit on stakeout in a couple of these photos.

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Train orders, Dayton, Texas May, 1980. (Old school freight operations!)

SP freight at Dayton, TX May 1980.  Note engineer snagging the orders.  --©photo by C. E. Hunt

SP freight at Dayton, TX May 1980. Note engineer snagging the orders. –©photo by C. E. Hunt

Before automation, train orders were used to determine which train had the right of way at any point along the line. They also passed along important information about unusual speed limits, track work, etc.

One day in May of 1980 as a 17-year old armed with my manual Minolta, I was in Dayton, Texas to capture a train order sequence.

Dayton Texas station May 1980 door

The station from which the employees put out the train orders had seen way better days. –©photo by C. E. Hunt

I noticed a bustle of activity as I heard a train horn in the distance.

A woman came out of the station to put out a train order for the approaching SP freight.--©photo by C. E. Hunt

A woman came out of the station to put out a train order for the approaching SP freight.–©photo by C. E. Hunt

I was thrilled to be able to capture this moment as the train approached.

Train approaches.  Order is in place.--©photo by C. E. Hunt

Train approaches. Order is in place. Note a second employee getting ready for something else. –©photo by C. E. Hunt

SP freight Dayton TX May 1980 III

The locomotive crew snatches the orders! Note the second woman approaching the the train order stand again.  –©photo by C. E. Hunt

Then the process was repeated.

The orders for the caboose are put on the stand.  Both station employees are now visible.--©photo by C. E. Hunt

The orders for the caboose are put on the stand. Both station employees are now visible.–©photo by C. E. Hunt

Here comes the caboose!

See the conductor reaching for the orders?  --©photo by C. E. Hunt

See the conductor reaching for the orders? –©photo by C. E. Hunt

Big-time, old school, freight railroading using train orders.

Technology has replaced all of this process, but I am glad I was able to capture the “old school” way in 1980.