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Union Pacific Company Elvas Interlocking Control Tower Records
MS 708  
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Collection Details
Table of contents What's This?
  • Descriptive Summary
  • Access
  • Publication Rights
  • Preferred Citation
  • Acquisition Information
  • Biography/Administrative History
  • Scope and Content of Collection
  • Indexing Terms

  • Descriptive Summary

    Title: Union Pacific Company Elvas Interlocking Control Tower Records
    Dates: 1997-1999
    Collection Number: MS 708
    Creator/Collector: Union Pacific Railroad Company
    Extent: 1 half box
    Repository: California State Railroad Museum Library and Archives
    Sacramento, California 95814
    Abstract: These papers are from the Southern Pacific, later Union Pacific, Sacramento interlocking control tower at Elvas.
    Language of Material: English


    This collection is open for research at our off-site storage facility with one week's notice. Contact Library & Archives staff to arrange for access.

    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 Head Librarian. 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

    Union Pacific Company Elvas Interlocking Control Tower Records. California State Railroad Museum Library and Archives

    Biography/Administrative History

    Interlocking towers were commonly used to control and sequence the movement of trains at crossings and junctions where the tracks of two or more railroad routes crossed or diverged. Southern Pacific's Elvas Tower controlled operations at the junction of the Donner and Valley routes in North Sacramento. Trains heading east from Sacramento could be routed south to Stockton or east to Roseville and points beyond. The Elvas Tower was built in 1910 near the intersection of C Street and Elvas Avenue in Sacramento (adjacent to Interstate Business Route 80 and across the American River from CalExpo.) The structure was a two-story wood frame building equipped with a General Railway Signal Company (GRS) Model 1 all-electric interlocking machine. The tower operator's cabin was on the second floor with windows on all sides. The original GRS machine remained in service until the Tower's last day of operation. When Union Pacific's Jerry Davis Yard in Roseville was modernized in 1999, Elvas Tower's control functions were moved to Roseville. On November 1, 1999 at 10:07 a.m., Arthur L. Spackman shut down the Elvas Tower. Key architectural elements from the second floor and some equipment were donated to the California State Railroad Museum.

    Scope and Content of Collection

    These papers from Southern Pacific, later Union Pacific, Sacramento interlocking control tower at Elvas include a crew notification data report sent by the crew caller's office in Omaha to the Elvas Tower on its last day in operation (November 1, 1999). The report includes the train number, where it originated, the route it took, the time a train was expected to pass the tower, and crew information from the last day of operation. Signal control dispatching used the Centralized Traffic Control System and freight car management used the Transportation Control System. One file contains codes that allowed the Elvas Tower crew to access train movements, consists, routes, schedules and other important information in these two systems. The Elvas Tower crew recorded all passing trains and the time they passed the Tower. A record book contains entries for October 19 to November 1, 1999. System Special Instructions (effective October 25, 1998) provides updated information for rulebooks and Superintendents’ bulletins. Another file contains telephone lists and directories of Southern Pacific employees in dispatch, operating, and maintenance of way positions. Monthly time reports include Elvas Tower crew members and the number of hours they worked during the last few months of operation. Employees included: Bob Greenfield, J. S. Hansen, R.L. Prince, C. J. Riley, Arthur.L. Spackman, C.J. Riley, and D. Rosen. There are also track bulletins [Form C] which alert Tower employees of any irregular movements. The Elvas Tower crew also kept schedules for the Amtrak passenger trains which regularly passed the Elvas Tower. Miscellaneous documents include: a cover sheet from a fax by California Northern Railroad, a 1999 yearly calendar, and a page of assignments and changes in car management.