The mighty Southern Pacific, known affectionately to railroadiana fans as the SP or “espee,” was the railroad empire that grew out of Leland Stanford's California-based Central Pacific. On May 10, 1869, the Central Pacific’s tracks, which began in Sacramento, California, were linked to the Union Pacific’s at Promontory, Utah. In 1885, after expanding north to Portland and southeast all the way to New Orleans, the Central Pacific was reorganized as the Southern Pacific.
SP model trains run the gamut from steam (SP mostly used oil not coal) to diesel and recall espee's glory days with its famed Daylight and Sunset routes. One vintage manufacturer from the 1940s was Marx, whose O-gauge Southern Pacific model trains included a red-and-silver, tin AA diesel engine. This snubnose workhorse was sold in a set with a Wabash gondola, a Pennsylvaniaboxcar, and a Southern Pacific caboose.
Trains that have been re-created as models in N, HO, and other gauges include 1940s Daylight locomotives and passenger cars made by Kato. Among other trains, these sets reproduced the Daylight, from its streamlined GS-4 steam locomotive to its red-and-orange horizontally striped cars (the dining cars were articulated) to the rounded tavern car in the rear.
In the 1980s, Lionel produced similar Daylight locomotives and tenders in O gauge. These Lionel locomotives pulled cars made out of extruded aluminum and featured windows dotted with the silhouettes of passengers.
Other companies that have produced Southern Pacific locomotives and cars include Atlas, Athearn, and Bachmann. Brass Southern Pacific model trains range from black, cab-forward locomotives made in Korea by Ajin and imported by Overland Models to unpainted variations of the same train made in Japan by Katsumi Mokeiten and imported by Westside Models.
Best of the Web (“Hall of Fame”)
Airfix Model Railways
Postwar Lionel Trains Library
Tech Model Railroad Club of MIT
Clubs & Associations
- Train Collectors Association
- National Model Railroad Association
- Lionel Collectors Club of America
- Toy Train Operating Society
- National Association of S Gaugers, Inc.
- Train Collectors Society (U.K.)
- Lionel Operating Train Society