Santa Clarita Valley History In Pictures
> SOLEDAD CANYON
SP 6459 Enters Soledad Tunnel
Soledad Canyon

Click image to enlarge | Original scan

This color trasparency is identified as: "SP 6459 / Soledad Cyn, CA / 4-71 / (Photograph by) Bernard Levine." Kodachrome film processed by Kodak, May 1971.


L.A. Times 3-21-1971. Click to enlarge.

April 1971 was when passenger service on the Southern Pacific ended. The last SP passenger train left the station April 30. (At Saugus, it was the San Joaquin Daylight.) Sleek, new highways such as the 1967 Interstate 5 in California made passenger rail service a money-losing propostion. Amtrak, a government-funded, quasi-public venture, took over passenger service the next day, May 1, 1971, but only on certain established routes and not including passenger service at Saugus.

This is probably the Pacific Railroad Society's last chartered Southern Pacific passenger excursion on April 17-18, 1971. The society's annual wildflower excursion ran from L.A. Union Station to Bakersfield over the Tehachapi Loop, with departures from Glendale and San Fernando. Unknown if it stopped at Saugus. (The society's excursions would resume under Amtrak.)

We see Engine No. 6459 pulling three baggage cars, entering the Soledad Canyon train tunnel via the bridge over the Santa Clara River. The baggage cars are in the lead; the passenger cars are behind them, out of view.

One week later, on April 25, the same Engine No. 6459 was pulling the 21-car Truckee Limited, a passenger excursion train chartered by the Pacific Locomotive Association. It carried railfans and the general public from Oakland to Truckee and was the last passenger charter operated by the Southern Pacific.

Sources: PacificRailroadSociety.org, RRPictureArchives.net, TrainOrders.com, Los Angeles Times 3-21-1971, The Signal 4-28-1971.


LW3229: 9600 dpi jpeg from original transparency (slide film) purchased 2018 by Leon Worden.
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