Friday, August 29, 2014

Southern Pacific "Daylight" Coast Line

The first two postcards show Southern Pacific's Coast "Daylight" train circa 1938-40.

The streamlined Daylight began on March 21, 1937, pulled by GS-2 steam locomotives on a 9 3⁄4-hour schedule. It was the first of the Daylight series that later included the San Joaquin Daylight, Shasta Daylight, Sacramento Daylight, and Sunbeam.

The second postcard has the following description on the back:
The brightly colored, orange and red, Million Dollar Southern Pacific "Daylight" speeds daily along the magnificent California Coast line between San Francisco and Los Angeles — the route of the Missions. No rail trip anywhere, unfolds more thrilling scenery — following the very edge of the Pacific Ocean for more than a hundred miles.
The Coast Daylight ran behind steam until January 7, 1955, long after most streamliners had been powered by diesel. The next postcard shows the Coast Daylight powered by diesel locomotives on its daily journey between San Francisco and Los Angeles. The train offered "a picture-window view of sun, sand, and surf for 113 miles."

The Coast Daylight operated until 1974, one of the few passenger trains retained by Amtrak in 1971. Amtrak merged it with the Coast Starlight in 1974. (source: Wikipedia)

Amtrak's Coast Starlight/Daylight, which operated between Seattle and Los Angeles, is shown on the postcard below.

The video below, titled "Daylighting the Padres' Trail," is a documentary made by the Southern Pacific Railroad in 1937 to showcase the "Daylight" luxury passenger train service.

To See More Vintage Images


  1. I've ridden both the Coast Starlight & the Coast Daylight & they are/were very nice trains. I have good memories of the rides back in the 1960s. The only ride I'd don't remember much about was taking the Coast Daylight with my Mom when I was 2 1/2 to see my grandmother in southern Calif. I do have one distinct memory from that trip - trying to eat soup in the dining car without spilling while the train rocked back & forth!

  2. Pretty impressive looking trains. This has reminded my of my first time away from home.....a train trip across the state. A topic for another blog.

  3. It is very picturesque having the train run alongside the water/ Very nice cards.

  4. I love riding on the Amtrak! Your photos are waking that urge within again! Time for another train ride. These are great postcards.

  5. Sounds like a great train journey, and I loved the video, although it's rather obvious just who are the customers are and who are the serving class. Does the train still operate in such luxury?

  6. Ooh, I'd have loved to have ridden on one of those lovely old trains along such beautiful coastal scenery.

  7. I’m glad you chose this aspect of the prompt - great postcards.

  8. I've taken the Starlight several times when I had a daughter in Seattle and one in the LA area. It was in the early 2000s, just at the end of really good food in the dinning cars.

  9. Such beautiful scenery -- I hope passengers could see it.


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