The Southern Pacific Railraod 1869–1996

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Map Code: Ax02047

The Southern Pacific, founded in California in 1865, was absorbed in 1868 by the ‘Big Four’ investors behind the Central Pacific Railroad between Sacramento and Ogden, Utah. Now flush with investment, track was acquired, or built, across the country, completing America’s second transcontinental route in 1883.The introduction of refrigerated rail-cars in 1886 enabled it to ship perishable products long distance: the Pacific Fruit Express (1906), which transported the produce of California to the East Coast became a major money spinner. The Union Railroad was formally incorporated (1913) and a further fillip occurred after World War I, when the Southern Pacific became the first railroad released from government control, enabling it to acquire the Cotton Belt Railway of the Southeast. After World War II, the railroad became notable for technological innovation, introducing diesel first (1947) and the ‘Piggyback’ flat-car (1953), which revolutionized transport of large cargos.

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