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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3 thoughts on “Southern Pacific in the San Fernando Valley in the early 1970s

  1. Looks like the last pic is Victory Blvd near Balboa, i attended Birmingham High (sometimes..lol) and would occasionally see the local pass through

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    • You are indeed correct Eric, you can see the football field lights of Birmingham High School in the last photo. Birmingham HS was originally Birmingham Army Hospital and during and just after WWII there were a couple of tracks crossing Victory Blvd and going into the hospital. I’m old enough that when I attended Birmingham HS it was still the buildings of the old hospital. My senior year the new high school buildings were finished. I liked the old hospital buildings better as they had lots of big windows one could look out during class.
      B. Smith

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  2. Worked the Van Nuys Local, as Conductor, on the Gemco relief job, once a week around 1988 – 1990. I would never miss working that job, no matter what… it was a real kick of a job! The SP 2617 was a Gemco regular for many years, I worked with her many, many times. I will add, every so often, we would get a load out of the bakery… a boxcar full of wooden pallets! But, as was stated, the Burbank Branch line was loads, in… empties out everywhere else. Cruzin the San Fernando Valley… and having lunch at CSUN! Remembering the great times working on the railroad! Larry Fredeen

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