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Inventory of the City of San Francisco Derailment Collection, 1939-1949
MS 39  
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Collection Details
Table of contents What's This?
  • Descriptive Summary
  • Administrative Information
  • Collection Description
  • Historical Background
  • Related Collection

  • 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


    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