Inventory of the City of San Francisco Derailment Collection, 1939-1949

Processed by Dr. Blaine P. Lamb; machine-readable finding aid created by Xiuzhi Zhou
California State Railroad Museum Library
111 "I" Street
Sacramento, California 95814
Phone: (916) 323-8073
Fax: (916) 327-5655
Email: csrmlibrary@csrmf.org
URL: http://www.csrmf.org/library.html
© 2000
California Secretary of State. All rights reserved.

Inventory of the City of San Francisco Derailment Collection, 1939-1949

Collection number: MS 39

California State Railroad Museum Library



Sacramento, California

Contact Information:

  • California State Railroad Museum Library
  • 111 "I" Street
  • Sacramento, California 95814
  • Phone: (916) 323-8073
  • Fax: (916) 327-5655
  • Email: csrmlibrary@csrmf.org
  • URL: http://www.csrmf.org/library.html
Processed by:
Dr. Blaine P. Lamb
Encoded by:
Xiuzhi Zhou
© 2000 California State Railroad Museum. All rights reserved.

Descriptive Summary

Title: City of San Francisco Derailment Collection,
Date (inclusive): 1939-1949
Collection number: MS 39
Extent: 2 document boxes + 1 flat document box
Repository: California State Railroad Museum Library
Sacramento, California 95814
Shelf location: Big Four Building or off-site storage. Please contact the Library in advance of your visit.
Language: English.

Administrative Information

Provenance

Gift of Brian Thompson, 1988

Publication Rights

Copyright has not been assigned to the California State Railroad Museum. All requests for permission to publish or quote from manuscripts must be submitted in writing to the Senior Curator. Permission for publication is given on behalf of the CSRM as the owner of the physical items and is not intended to include or imply permission of the copyright holder, which must also be obtained by the reader.

Preferred Citation

[Identification of item], City of San Francisco Derailment Collection, MS 39, California State Railroad Museum Library, Sacramento, California.

Collection Description

Includes newspaper clippings, Southern Pacific records, instructions, arrival and departure times, notes, maps, scrapbook, photographs and a poster. Organized by type of material.

Historical Background

The train, City of San Francisco, operated by the Southern Pacific, Union Pacific and Chicago and North Western Railroads, was called "the largest, fastest, most beautiful, powerful and luxurious streamliner ever designed," when inaugurated on January 2, 1939. The train, which carried passengers between Oakland, California and Chicago, derailed on August 12, 1939, at a site between Harney and Palisade, in eastern Nevada. The cars suffered tremendous damage, and there were many deaths and injuries among the crew and passengers. Evidence found at the point of derailment indicated that it had been the result of sabotage. Years of detective work by Southern Pacific and the Federal Bureau of Investigation, turned up much evidence and several suspects, but no convictions were ever made. The identities and motives of the saboteurs remain a mystery.

Related Collection

Title: Photograph album No. 32

Key to Arrangement

 

COMPANY RECORDS

Box 1, Folder 1

Records concerning train speed on curves, instructions for engineers and personnel, operation of the train, arrival and departure times, and visibility at the place of the derailment.

Folder 2

Diagram charts and graphs

Folder 3

Southern Pacific logo, map of Nevada and miscellaneous notes

 

NEWSPAPER CLIPPINGS

Box 1, Folder 4

Southern Pacific, Bureau of News, Book 1, containing newspaper clippings dealing with the derailment

Folder 5

Southern Pacific, Bureau of News, Book 2, containing newspaper clippings dealing with the derailment

Folder 6

Southern Pacific, Bureau of News, scrapbook containing clippings dealing with the derailment

 

PHOTOGRAPHS

Box 1, Folder 7

Promotional photographs of the "City of San Francisco" showing interior and exterior

Box 2, Folder 1

Photographs of the general location and topography of the derailment site

Folder 2-4

Photographs of damaged equipment

Folder 5

Photographs of altered track which caused the derailment

Folder 6

Photographs of devices used to cause the derailment and of evidence which indicated that the derailment was intentional

Folder 7

Photographs of police, special agents, and individuals who attempted to apprehend the saboteurs

Folder 8

Photographs of suspects

Box 3, Folder 1

Reward poster issued by the Southern Pacific for capture of the saboteurs

Folder 2

Oversized photographs of the derailment, with accompanying descriptions