One day in 1959, I was driving by Santa Fe’s main line tracks in Buena Park, California, and noticed a small wooden station there. I drove by there a couple of months later, and the station was gone. This started me thinking; “Hmm, these things seem to be vanishing just like steam locomotives did.”
In 1966 and 1967, Southern Pacific provided a rare spectacle for me – construction of a brand-new main line.
In 1876, the railroad completed its San Joaquin Line from Central California over the Tehachapi Mountains to Los Angeles, then it proceeded to build the Sunset Route east toward El Paso and New Orleans. However, by the middle of the Twentieth Century, the Los Angeles area had become a bottleneck for traffic to the southeast, so SP planned a bypass. Read more
Completion of Southern Pacific’s San Joaquin line in 1876 was Los Angeles’ first rail connection to the rest of the country. It required a 6976 foot tunnel between the Santa Clarita and San Fernando valleys.
I photographed the west end of the tunnel (by timetable direction) on the afternoon of February 9, 1971. Why this date? Early that morning the 6.6 magnitude Sylmar Earthquake caused major damage in the area, killing 44 people. I drove up to see how the tunnel had held up, and the view through it correctly indicated there were no problems.
However, just past the far end of the tunnel, the interchanges of Interstate 5 with Interstate 210 and California Highway 14, then under construction, had collapsed on the tracks.
The railroad was back in service in a few days, but the highway bridges took over a year to rebuild, with strengthened columns.
History repeated itself in 1994 when the Northridge Earthquake again caused bridge collapses at the interchange. The road closures resulted in a major increase in Metrolink service on what was now their Antelope Valley Line, and this increased service remains today.