Southern Pacific Lines

Coast Line Division 

“The Route of the Octopus”


General Info

SP Advertising

  1. Espee's slogan was "Your Friendly Southern Pacific". This was seen in numerous billboards and ads.

  2. Rob Sarberenyi

  3. A series of SP's ads with Virgil Partch cartoons on billboards all over SP's post-1955 slogan "Golden Empire" and print media. It even made it as a line on the Jack Benny radio program in a skit about Jonah being swallowed by the whale,

  4.     "Next Time, Try The Train."

  5. Bob Pecotich

  6. On an SP Passenger Timetable from 1959 that had a map of the system with the slogan "Serving The Golden Empire".

  7. In the late 80's/early 90's, the SP had a slogan titled "The Spirit That Won The West".

  8. They also brought back the old Circle and Bar emblem in Red and Orange with a Sunset on top of the middle bar.

  9. An acrylic desk paperweight, apparently issued by the DRGW/SP in the early 90's, labeled:

  10. "Southern Pacific Lines", and has both the "Southern Pacific Lines" sunset herald dating back to the early 20th Century and the "Rio Grande - the Action Railroad" speed-lettered herald:

  11. The paperweight also has two slogans:

  12.     "The Spirit of the West is Back"

  13.     "Extending Your Reach"


Fuel Conservation

  1. One was issued in 1923 to a locomotive engineer. It was gold plated enamel cap badge.

Perfect Station

  1. Issued to an agent. It was a sterling silver medal.

Safety Award

  1. Given out for increments of 5 years of accident free service. Safety was a major concern on the railroads. Groups of employees also received awards such as switchmen or roundhouse employees at yards.

Cost of a Ticket

  1. In 1948 the cost from LA $6 one-way, $11.90 round trip, (coach).

Fuel Economy Program





Panama-Pacific International Exposition (PPIE)

  1. The Southern Pacific building constructed at the Panama-Pacific International Exposition in 1915, was a moving picture theater in this building, the “Sunset Theater”. There is a 1921 book about the Exposition that had a chapter on the railroad displays.

Radio Broadcast

  1. The radio show “All Aboard” 1/2 hour aired weekly in 1949-54 on NBC from Hollywood studios with Gordon MacRae as the star.

  2. The inauguration of the first Daylight train in 1939 was broadcast on NBC. Olivia de Havilland christened the train.


  4.                                                        (*see Daylight book, pg. 80 )

Rose Parade

  1. On January 1, 1940, the Brotherhood of Railway Clerks won the “theme prize” in the Tournament of Roses Parade with their 66’ streamlined Daylight locomotive float of flowers. It was spectacular to the eye and the largest float in the parade.

The SP Baseball vs. San Quentin “All-Stars”

  1. The Southern Pacific had a company sponsored baseball team. A most unusual memorabilia item is a small (6"x 8") printed scorecard for a baseball game played at California’s notorious high security San Quentin State Prison between the baseball club of the Southern Pacific RR and the San Quentin “All-Stars” on July 24, 1932.

Sunset Magazine

  1. Sunset magazine was created in 1898, by the Passenger Department of the S.P., as publicity for railroad lands and tourism. The magazine sold the West’s best commodity, its environmental attractions and economic potentials to thousands, publishing countless promotional articles on towns and valleys on the brink of development. Occasionally, S.P. used its magazine as a corporate platform to defend freighting practices or to hint at political matters. The magazine was sold in 1914 and continues to promote the West. A complete collection of S.P.’s magazine exists in the California State Railroad Museum.

                                                                            (*see Sunset Magazine March ‘37).


  1. In 1948 & 1949 the reservation phone number was GArfield 1571 in SF.

  2. In 1955, the telephone sales office phone number was MIchigan 6161.

Companies owned by the SP

  1. There were a lot of companies SP owned outright, was in partnership with or affiliated in some way. These were in some cases owned for a limited time, and the list does NOT necessarily apply over decades and decades.

  2. Albion Lumber Co.

  3. Arizona Eastern

  4. Associated Oil Co.

  5. Associated Pipe Line Co.

  6. Bankers Leasing Co.

  7. Beaver Hill Coal Co.

  8. Black Mesa Pipelines Co.

  9. CPRR

  10. California Development Co.

  11. California Navigation & Improvement Co.

  12. Colorado Direct Navigation Co.

  13. Contract & Finance Co.

  14. Dallas Smith Co.

  15. Direct Navigation Co.

  16. Durango Land Co

  17. East Coast oil Co. (Mexico)

  18. Evergreen Freight Car Corp.

  19. Fresno City Ry Co.

  20. Fresno Traction Co.

  21. GH&SA RR

  22. Golden West Leasing Co.

  23. Gulf Lumber Co.

  24. HE&WT

  25. Houston & Shreveport RR

  26. Huntington Beach Corp.

  27. Importers Bonded Warehouse Co.

  28. Inter-Cal Ry. Co.

  29. Iron Chief Mining Co.

  30. John I. Hay Barge Line

  31. Kern Trading & Oil Co.

  32. Kirby Lumber Co.

  33. Louisiana Western RR

  34. Los Angeles Pacific Land Co.

  35. Los Angeles Pacific Market Co.

  36. Los Angeles Terminal Co.,

  37. ML&T RR

  38. Marion & Linn County RR

  39. NWP RR

  40. Nile Steamship Co.

  41. O&C RR

  42. Oceanic Steamship Co.

  43. Occidental & Oriental Steamship Co.

  44. Pacific Electric Land Co.

  45. Pacific Fruit Express Co.

  46. Pacific Greyhound Lines

  47. Pacific Improvement Co.

  48. Pacific Mail Steamship Co.

  49. Pacific Motor Trucking Co.

  50. Pacific Oil Co.

  51. Peninsular Ry. Co.

  52. Phoenix & Eastern RR

  53. Pickwick Stages

  54. Porter Fuel Co.

  55. Porterville Northern RR

  56. Rifled Pipe Co.

  57. Rio Bravo Oil Co.

  58. Rockaway Pacific Corp.

  59. SD&A RR

  60. San Jose Railroads,

  61. San Jose & Santa Clara Co. Ry. Co.

  62. Southern Pacific Air Freight Co.  (1980’s)

  63. Southern Pacific Building Co.

  64. Southern Pacific Communications Co.  (SPRINT)

  65. Southern Pacific Equipment Co.

  66. Southern Pacific Land Co.

  67. Southern Pacific Marine Transport Co.

  68. Southern Pacific Of Mexico

  69. Southern Pacific Navigation Co.

  70. Southern Pacific Pipe Lines CO.

  71. Southern Pacific Terminal Co.

  72. Southern Pacific Terminal Co RR

  73. Southwestern Transportation Co.

  74. Sprint

  75. Stockton Electric Co.

  76. Sunset Development Co.

  77. Sunset Magazine

  78. Sunset Ry

  79. Texas Town Lot Co.

  80. Ticor  (Financial Services)

  81. Tucson & Nogales RR

  82. Visalia Electric RR.

  83. John R. Signor

  84. S.P. also had smaller ownership percentages in various other oil, hotel, hospital, land and sugar companies.

  85. SP sold all its oil lands AND its majority ownership in Associated to Pacific Oil in 1920. My understanding is that SP did not have a majority piece of Pacific Oil--and Pacific Oil was sold to Standard of  California in 1926.

  86. Tony Thompson

  1. I wrote up a history of Southern Pacific's communications company, spun off as SPRINT.


  3. Don Strack


  1. A good source of information on SP's wholly-owned and majority or minority interest in railroad and non-railroad companies can be found in the various annual editions of "Poor's Manual Of Railroads". Manuals editions can generally be obtained thru interlibrary loan, for years not available in your local library.

  2. Bob Pecotich

SP Pipelines Division

  1. SP Pipelines was another longstanding SP subsidiary that Santa Fe acquired with the merger and subsequently sold. Anything not directly owned by the railroad became SPSF property on merger day. It was very clear that every single SP subsidiary was promptly spun off by Santa Fe and most sold fairly quickly (or at least recapitalized with new stock). When SP emerged from the "near-merger," I think they were doomed: all those subsidiaries had been sources of income, and some had been major long-term assets, like land. All were now gone. There are many threads in the downfall of the SP, but the rich family of assets stripped away in the SPSF debacle have to be a major part of any account. And let's don't blame Santa Fe; one reason they wanted the merger in the first place was to get their hands on all those assets. They got full benefit from them, too.

  2. Tony Thompson

SP Corporate Aircraft

  1. They did own or control three airplanes one GS4 and two Lear jets for corporate travel. Mr. Russell was flying in the Tenneco GS4. But it was Gentle Ben who got the SP G-IV (Gulfstream). It was keep at Oakland.

  2. Paul C. Koehler

  1. In the early 1950's SP owned a large share of United Airlines but was forced to divest itself of them. One could buy United Airline tickets at most major Espee stations.

S.P. Lettering

SP Font

  1. The Southern Pacific didn't use a font. Fonts are computer files. In printing (Before Computers) a “font” was the physical amount of  type (Pieces) that you had in a given size in any given typeface. This was true for lead type and for Linotype brass matrices. You could have a long font or a short font depending on the quantity of each letter, etc., you had in the font. The various styles of railroad lettering can be called “typefaces” although most of  them were never in type. Now in the computer age “font” seems to have replaced ‘typeface” as an unlimited supply of all sizes are available from the one “font”. “Style” also has a couple meanings in type.

SP Lettering

  1. Shops didn’t always follow the official drawings exactly. The letter “H” is an example-in photos that have at least two different renderings.

  2. Type face is the name attached to printers type and to much of the early pre-computer letter styles developed. SP, and railroads in general used drawings, created on a drafting table with pencil, pen and ink, from which stencils were cut. This kind of lettering was made up in drawings by the railroad mechanical department. They did NOT use any font except perhaps as an inspiration. They were draftsmen and drew it themselves. Moreover, lettering width and other aspects was adjusted as needed, for example to fit on a single-sheathed car, so even if you have decals of  "official" railroad lettering it won't actually work for every car.


  1. The stencils used on steam locos, at least for all of the larger lettering, were sheet metal and the “loose” parts were attached with welded on bent rod, so no line were filled in after painting. The “SOUTHERN” and “PACIFIC” stencils were each made in one piece, so the misspelling commented on was a fairly expensive error. It’s assumed that the maker found other employment.

  2. In Sacramento in 1953, the stencils they used on diesels were heavy brown paper. The loose parts were held by rods, probably taped in place. The SOUTHERN and PACIFIC stencils were also made in one piece.

  3. So the stencils were put together by the individual painter, or was there a big "Southern Pacific" stencil made by some other shop. I presume there were some mistakes in lettering made in all of this. So the stencils were put together by the individual painter, or was there a big "Southern Pacific" stencil made by some other shop. 

  4. Each paint shop made up its stencils from the drawings supplied from San Francisco or Houston. It was not up to the painter. Car numbers were of course separate digits, but were slipped into a frame on the main stencil so they would be positioned correctly. Afterward, a painter "filled in" the parts left missing in the stencil so letters would look continuous. (That's in the old days; by the 1960s you can see relettered cars with stencil letters left as stencils.) If you can find a copy of the SP Common Plans book, Vol. 2, you will find the dimensions to make your own stencils. 

  5. Tony Thompson


  1. Espee name for the font it used to letter freight cars and engines. That font was "Egyptian" and some outfit online has it for sale in digital form. The old SP Common Standards have a page that shows the details for the "font" that was used on buildings and structures - don't know about locomotives and rolling stock. This was indeed the name of the SP lettering style for structures (and ROW signs), but "Egyptian" is about as unhelpful a name as can be imagined; there are innumerable truly different fonts with that name. I'm not disputing that the SP version may be available, only stating that the name is uninformative.

  2. Tony Thompson

  3. “Egyptian” is a face with square seraphs. To further  confuse the type issue the same face can have several different names depending on the house that issued it. And SP “Egyptian” is a gothic face. “Gothic” is a face without seraphs (like the later SP frt. letters). The large "Sunset" logo used a Egyptian lettering.

  4. One can in fact digitize any railroad drawings to make a digital font. Chris Barkan did this for the distinctive B&O  freight car lettering style, for example. Charlie Givens did it for SP. But Charlie's digitization is not by any means perfect; if you look at the numbers in the book and compare to the lettering drawing in Volume 1, you will find some discrepancies. But I'm still most appreciative of Charlie's effort. This digitization takes around an hour per character in Fontographer, so it's not a small task at all.

  5. Tony Thompson   

“Railroad Roman”

  1. Railroad Roman will get you in the neighborhood for smaller lettering, but for passenger car letterboards, and for larger letters, it won't be quite on. Additionally, the painter, who was lettering the equipment was expected to space the letters as needed for the car being painted, so letter spacing varied from car to car, and from paint job to paint job on the same car. Computer fonts have problems with this. There is no such thing as "Railroad Roman." That's an invention of the decal makers. There was indeed a recommended style of lettering from MCB/ARA/AAR but more railroads differed with it than followed it; and in any case it isn't a "font" that you can find anywhere. 

  2. “Railroad Roman” was originally the ARA recommended style from the 1920’s, but the name originated in the model RR community in the 1930’s. The SP Roman faces date from about 1901. “ Roman” is a face with seraphs.

  3. Finally the lettering changed over time. Before 1896 the letters on passenger equipment had drop shading. SP's Roman was used on freight car lettering, the large "Sunset" logo was Egyptian. Later styles had block lettering.

Modeling Fonts

  1. RailFonts ( has several fonts for S.P. use.

  2. The font "Consolidated" at is very close to the type used for the stacked "Southern Pacific", and by adjusting the line spacing was able to get what you need. Note that when the font is emailed to you, it may be named "TrueBlue". If you purchase "Consolidated", it arrives as a package called "TrueBlue".

  3. There's several new versions of "Daylight" font as well.

Southern Pacific Lines
The Southern Pacific Company
General Info
SP Advertising
Panama-Pacific Exposition
Radio Broadcast
Rose Parade
SP Baseball Team
Sunset Magazine
Companies owned by the SP
SP Pipelines Division
SP Corporate Aircraft

Espee Fonts
  1. Armand T. Mercler        Southern Pacific President 1941-1951