Donner Part 1 / SP Pages / SP Northwest / SP Nevada / City of SF & Ogden

on Donner Pass

Part 2, November, 1980

November, 1980: The nation 's railroads were experiencing the onset of recession and transportation deregulation, which would combine to permanently wipe out much of the traditional single carload business. I was already cut off (furloughed) from the San Francisco freight brakemen extra board, and by the next Spring, SP had axed scores of switch engines, road switchers and local freights, because the carlot shippers seemingly had all switched to trucks overnight. This was a natioanal phenomenon that, along with heavy industry's ongoing drift off shore, ultimately caused the abandonment of thousands of miles of industrial, branch, and even main line trackage. Railroading was never the same after 1980, and I wouldn't regularly work the trains again until early 1984...E.O.

These are photos of the X8989E, a reefer block which was the only revenue freight train that Wx4 staff managed to bag during a daylong sojourn on the pass. A few other trains appeared out of camera range, but not nearly in the quantity that we'd experienced in 1975 (see part 1), another recessionary year.

(above) The head end of the train was already at Norden, but the helper was still shoving hard. Soon, the helper engineer shut off and came out into full dynamic as the train tipped over inside the summit tunnel. If the helper engineer was good, he timed the application of dynamic to minimize the run-in at the summit. If he shoved a little too long, the conductor may have had a few choice words for him as he cut off the engine.

(below) The sun had nearly set when the train passed the Truckee depot in swirling wood stove-produced haze. You'll find a full photo of the depot on the Harmonic Convergence page.

Earlier in the day at Blue Canyon...

(above) the San francisco Zephyr, with F-40's 314 &319; (below) wok train with SD9's 4378 & 4441

Bonus at no extra charge: SP 8464 at Blue Canyon, Labor Day, 1971

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