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Southern Pacific Inaugurates Shasta Daylight in 1949

On July 10, 1949, the “Shasta Daylight” set out on its inaugural 713-mile trip from Oakland, Calif., to Portland, Ore.  It was the first diesel-powered train owned by Southern Pacific, the company’s third “Daylight” streamliner, and its only long-distance one. It made the trip in 16 hours, averaging about 45 mph.

Shasta Daylight’s scenic route to Portland featured large-window views of the Pacific coastline, the rugged Sacramento River canyon and Mount Shasta, plus Mount Hood and Odell Lake in the Cascades.     The train’s interior featured air conditioned dining areas, lounges, and parlors.

The Southern Pacific was the nation’s largest railroad before mergers changed the landscape in the 1950’s; it spanned more than 15,000 miles from the Pacific Northwest down to southeast Louisiana. The first “Daylight” dated back to 1937 when an “all-streamlined” passenger train ran from Los Angeles to San Francisco.

The Daylight’s popularity waned in the latter half of the 1960’s, and Southern Pacific had dropped most passenger service by the time Amtrak took over in 1971.

Amtrak’s “Coast Starlight” now runs along Southern Pacific’s original tracks between Los Angeles and Portland.

Source: "The Shasta Daylight." American-Rails.com. American-Rails.com, 2007-2015. Web. 23 Dec. 2015. .

Gail Fiorini-Jenner is a writer and teacher. Her first novel "Across the Sweet Grass Hills", won the 2002 WILLA Literary Award. She co-authored four histories with Arcadia Publishing: Western Siskiyou County: Gold & Dreams, Images of the State of Jefferson, The State of Jefferson: Then & Now, which placed in the 2008 Next Generation Awards for Nonfiction and Postcards from the State of Jefferson.