Santa Clarita Valley History In Pictures
Train Derailment
Ravenna, California

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Example of a 4-6-2 Pacific class locomotive. (Similar to the one that jumped the tracks, but not the same one.) Click to enlarge.

An old, broken-down 4-6-2 steam locomotive that was being pulled to the boneyard by a string of fancy new diesel engines had the last laugh when it jumped the tracks near Ravenna in the wee hours of Saturday, October 27, 1956, taking 23 cars of a 59-car train with it.

Anscochrome color transparency (slide film) stamped "Alan Miller" and hand-dated "9-56 / SP Train Wreck, Ravenna, Calif." — but it is actually the October 1956 derailment reported below, not September. Compare the number of the boxcar above (62146) with the one shown in the newspaper photo at bottom, which shows the older locomotive on its side. (Also, there are no reports of a derailment near Ravenna in September.)

Click to enlarge.

Derailment at Lancaster Disrupts Trains

Lancaster, Oct. 27 — A derailment of 23 freight cars on a Southern Pacific train early today near the Soledad Canyon railroad siding near here caused the cancellation of two main passenger trains and forced two others to transfer their passengers to busses [sic].

No one was hurt, in the derailment in which 10 cars of the 59-car freight train stacked up and overturned.

Throughout the day 75 men and two cranes worked to clear the tracks. An SP spokesman said the line should be ready for traffic movement by late tonight. Cause of the derailment was not determined.

Canceled passenger trains were the San Joaquin Daylight runs between Oakland and Lue Angeles. The Owl from Oakland and the West Coast from Sacramento ended their trips in Bakersfield where passengers were transferred to busses to complete the journey to Los Angeles.

News story courtesy of Tricia Lemon Putnam.

Outworn Steamer Shuts Down S.P. Line for 21 Hours

Click to enlarge.

An antique 4-6-2 Pacific-type steam passenger engine, being hauled, dead and cold down, to the Los Angeles railroad boneyard, had its revenge Saturday morning at 12:15 a.m.

On a sharp curve a half-mile above Ravenna, in Soledad Canyon, the leading "pony" truck of the engine rode over the rails and down on to the ties. The wheel flanges of the engine had just about worn down to nothing.

Twenty-two freight cars of Section 2, Freight Train No. 806, followed the dead engine off the high iron, and scattered in various positions of derailment along the right-of-way.

The valley line of the Southern Pacific was blocked and trainless for 21 hours thereafter.

The old engine remained upright, even though derailed, and was re-railed and wheeled down to a Ravenna siding soon after daylight.

Repair Crews Toil

One big wrecking crane moved down from Bakersfield. Another similar giant moved up from Los Angeles. A regiment of S.P. section hands went furiously to work as the torn section of the line was cleared of tumbled box cars.

Long after dark Saturday the new rails were spiked into place. The highball [was] given for the resumption of traffic at 9 p.m.

No estimate of damage was obtainable. None of the derailed freight cars was smashed, although several were dented and twisted.

The engine responsible for the trouble was eighth in the string immediately behind the diesel engine of No. 806. Ralph Townsend was engineer of the train and Earl Owen, conductor.

The line clearing operations of the wreck crews attracted a big crowd of spectators on the Soledad Canyon highway, which runs close along the railroad at the scene of the derailment.

News story courtesy of Tricia Lemon Putnam.

Click image to enlarge.

Color-corrected by Pony Horton.

LW3444: 9600 dpi jpeg from color transparency purchased 2018 by Leon Worden.


Mining Activity 1862


Storm Damage 1884


Rail Worker Killed; Engineer Dies from 2nd Accident 1886


1 Killed When Trains Collide 1893


Engine Jumps Track 2-1898


Freight Train Jumps Track 5-1898


Locomotive Explodes, 2 Killed 1902


Derailment 1956

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