Mail & Express Part II, page 1
the City of SF & Ogden
Mail, Part 1
Part 1, page 2
Mail, Part 2, page 2
SP Pages

The mail / express business was still booming on the Overland Route in the mid-1960's, so much so that, in addition to Mail trains 21/22, the City of San Francisco carried considerable head-end traffic, as well. Since I doesn't gots no pics of the mail trains, we'll look at the City's head end traffic, plus the mail / express facilities at Ogden, Utah.

Immediately below are examples of the first (1936) City and last (1941) pre World War II consists - the early photo coming from an introductory booklet, the cover of which is at left. Note that mail and express was not carried in the early years. There were plenty of secondary trains for that.

The postcard is an interesting bit of work. Although it depicts a Prewar train, Rob Jacox (who forwarded the photo and info; THANKS ROB!) points out that the lead E6 displays a number only used between 8/46 and 3/48. Look closely and you'll detect that the card company's artist rather crudely patched "904a" over the unit's original number, SF-4. The unit became the 985J in 3/48 and C&NW 5004A with the dissolution of joint ownership in December, 1948.

By the mid-Sixties, the City sported an RPO, as you can see in the below photo, one that I nearly missed. That's #102 leavings Wells, Nevada nearly on the advertised, at about 5:00 a.m. in late June, 1965. I slept-in at the motel, thinking that the train would, in typical SP fashion. be running an hour late. As I pulled-on my pants, I heard the "toot-toot" of 102 departing the depot, and quickly ran across U.S. 40 to get this shot at a location near a locally famous bordello. Little recognized is that the eastbound pull out of Wells was a helper district at the time.

Incidentally, the rest of this particular day was pretty interesting too. The family and I drove along the UP's Wells Branch (no photos), made it to Twin Falls just in time to see the UP's Twin Falls Mixed (no photos), and later, I spotted one of UP's Loewy - styled H15-44's (no photos). I was a (stupid) kid.

SP Timetable, January 6, 1964: In the summers, the City and the Overland ran as separate trains.

To gain an idea of how much mail / express business there was, here's the westbound City at Berkeley on April 22, 1967, not long before SP's last Alco PA's were yanked from service. The train that day was about 20 cars, evenly split between head end and passenger cars. Up front, here's still one old Harriman hanging-on to existence (though it may be a UP car) with several express boxes (some of them REA ex WWII Troop Sleepers) and reefers immediately trailing. Engine numbers: 6042, 6034, 6041 & unknown.

Although SP's RPO contracts were cancelled effective October 1, 1967, the Overland Mail trains did not come off until November 16. As for the City of San Francisco, without the mail and those wonderful PA's, it was hard to distinguish from any other SP train. Below we see what was left in June, 1968.

Here's a couple more looks at the latter-day City, this time at Roseville on a gloomy February, 1970 late afternoon. The train had one measly sleeper, (UP's Pacific Ocean), just as it did the previous July when I unsuccessfully tried to secure sleeper space from Ogden to Oakland.

Above, REA ink blotter, 1920's
Below, baggage Wagon, Ogden 1969