Logo 05 - Southern Pacific Railway Logo, c. 1880
Mural Depiction

The Southern Pacific Transportation Company, usually called the Southern Pacific, was founded as a land holding company in 1865, later acquiring the Central Pacific Railroad by lease. By 1900 the Southern Pacific Company was a major railroad system incorporating many smaller companies, such as the Texas and New Orleans Railroad and Morgan's Louisiana and Texas Railroad. It extended from New Orleans through Texas to El Paso, across New Mexico and through Tucson to Los Angeles, through most of California, including San Francisco and Sacramento.

Background Information

Other subsidiaries eventually included the St. Louis Southwestern Railway (Cotton Belt), the Northwestern Pacific Railroad at 328 miles, the 1,331 miles of Southern Pacific Railroad of Mexico and a variety of narrow gauge routes. In 1929 SP/T&NO (Southern Pacific/Texas & New Orleans) operated 13,848 route-miles not including Cotton Belt, whose purchase of the Golden State Route circa 1980 nearly doubled its size to 3,085 miles, bringing total SP/SSW mileage to around 13,508 miles.

By the 1980s route mileage had dropped to 10,423 miles, mainly due to the pruning of branch lines. In 1988 the Southern Pacific was taken over by Denver & Rio Grande Western (D&RGW) parent Rio Grande Industries. The combined railroad kept the Southern Pacific name due to its brand recognition in the railroad industry and with customers of both constituent railroads. Along with the addition of the (Southern Pacific Chicago Saint Louis (SPCSL) Corporation route from Chicago to St. Louis, the total length of the D&RGW/SP/SSW (St Louis Southwestern: reporting mark) system was 15,959 miles. It was absorbed in 1988 by the company that controlled the Denver and Rio Grande Western Railroad and eight years later became part of the Union Pacific Railroad.

For additional information please see Southern Pacific homepage.

Mural Information

Completed: September 2013

Sponsor: Union Pacific Railway

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