Monday, February 8, 2016

Ops on R Street (Circa 1958)

Sacramento commissioned a number of traffic studies through the years, and for a railroad history enthusiast they can be a boon of information. For example, there was a 1958 era study that sent researchers out to ride with all the engine crews that performed switching operations in the city.

Below is what I've distilled from that study for the crews that worked the R Street area for the different railroads at different times of the day. It's an interesting record and the study describes a lot more rail activity than I would have guessed.

I've created some graphics that I've used in the last couple of PowerPoint presentations I've given on R Street (most recently at the Bay Area Layout Design & Operations Weekend series of clinics held at California Railroad Museum on January 30th), that simplify the tracks and city streets down to something like a board game map. It's tough to get into the fine details about each switch job in the city during a Powerpoint as it's pretty dry stuff for most folks not intimately interested in R Street rail history (and even then...). But here on the blog, you can safely fall asleep and come back later for more :-).  After each graphic I'll list out the information given for each "Engine Assignment" as given in the traffic study. It was a lot of typing, so if anything looks off, feel free to drop me a line, or leave a comment, so I can check the original copy.

All jobs below were handled by yard crews, and for each rail company the tracks on R Street (and much of the city) were under Yard Limits rules. That is they were operating under a specific rule given in all railroad rule books.(I'm assuming... certainly every rule book I've seen.)  Under this rule crews only had to protect against 1st class trains (non existent on R Street itself, after maybe 1927, but the WP mainline cutting through town would have had 1st class trains the WP and SN crews would have had to worry about, as well as any SP crew crossing the WP main on R Street between 19th and 20th Streets). The other element to the yard limits rule is Restricted Speed. Specifically crews had to keep their speeds down so that they would be able to stop at half the distance to the range of vision - but under no circumstance could they go more than 20 mph.

The engine assignment numbers in the listings from this study I think were internal company job designations and didn't relate to specific locomotives.

I'm going to present the jobs in order of time of day, starting at midnight. This is a little different than how the traffic study presented them, so you'll see some 'follows the previous assignment's route' verbiage in the first set of jobs that ran between midnight to 8:00 am.

I've included the Sacramento Northern jobs that were in the area mostly for color. They didn't have any specific duties on R Street itself, but during this era they would have had trackage rights on the WP parts of R Street (and the Q/R Alley) and could have conceivably been seen making their way from one part of town to the other via R.

Central California Traction had no yard forces in town and all switching in town by them was by road crews. As far as I can tell there was no Central California Traction presence on R Street with the exception of their name on the WP freight house at 3rd and R.

We'll start with an area map circa 1927, not from the study, that shows the interchange points  mentioned in the study- I've noted in Red the reporting points or yards mentioned in the study. I have to admit I'm guessing on the location of the SN yard in West Sacramento (West Side Yard). Everything off of R Street and certainly once you cross the river quickly turns into the 'Here be Dragons' notations on the railroad maps in my mind. (The password is 'myopic')


SN Engine Assignment No. 141
Time Shift 12:00 P.M. to 8:00 A.M. (daily)
Reporting Point - Varies: West Side Yard; 2d and M Streets; or 17th and D Streets.

Duties- Usually leaves reporting point a few minutes after 12:00 P.M. and ties up between 7:30 A.M. and 9:00 AM at the nearest reporting point. Switches the entire system from West Side Yard to Haggin Yard and X Street from the Central California Traction Company - Southern Pacific interchange to The Western Pacific interchange at 19th and X Streets. Generally switches to and from eight different spurs and sidings, moving 75 cars, including 24 cars to and from the above-named interchanges. Crosses the Sacramento River between two and four times each shift.

SP Engine Assignment No. 636
Time Shift 12:00 P.M to 8:00 A.M. (daily)
Report Point- Generally in the area of Brighton Junction where the preceding shift has tied up.

Duties - Ordinarily begins work a few minutes after 12:00 P.M. and arrives at main yard between 4:30 A.M and 5:30 A.M. The preceding crew is usually able to complete only the switching assignments in the outbound direction. This assignment covers the same area, but in the opposite direction. Brighton Junction to the main yard via R Street. Generally moves about 70 cars to and from 12 spurs and sidings, including an average of 20 cars to and from The Western Pacific Railroad interchange at 4th and R Streets.

SP Engine Assignment No. 641
Time Shift- 12:00 P.M. to 8:00 AM (daily)
Reporting Point- Southern Pacific Main Yard

Duties- Generally leaves the yard about 2:00 A.M., following about two hours of switching. Returns about 5:45 A.M. with from 15 to 20 cars, completing the shift in the yard. Switches the lower end of R Street, along the Sacramento River Levee to the various oil plants, and the industrial area located south of Y Street (Broadway) between Front and 5th Streets. During these operations, switches the Sacramento Northern-Central California Traction interchange on X Street and The Western Pacific Railroad interchange on R Street. Usually switches about 14 spurs and sidings and moves an average of 50 cars, including 25 cars to and from the interchanges.

WP Engine Assignment No. 32
Time Shift- 12:00 P.M. to 8:00 A.M (daily)
Reporting Point- Western Pacific Main Yard

Duties- Follows the pattern of Assignments Nos. 13 and 22, except that there is generally less switching time in the yard. Usually moves about 60 cars to and from 15 spurs and sidings, including an average of 35 cars to and from the four interchanges.
SN Engine Assignment No. 31
Time Shift- 8:00 A.M. to 4:00 PM (daily)
Reporting Point - Varies: West Side Yard; 2d and M Streets: or 17th and D Streets.

Duties- Generally leaves reporting point between 8:30 A.M. and 9:30 A.M returning to one of the three points about 4:00 P.M. Switches all spurs and sidings on Front Street, X Street, from Front Street to 19th Street, Libby-McNeil and Libby on Alhambra Avenue, the Haggin Yard, the West Side Yard, and all interchange tracks. Makes an occasional trip to Woodland. Usually moves about 70 cars each day to and from 10 to 15 spurs and sidings, including and average of 14 cars to and from the following interchange tracks: The Western Pacific Railroad at Frong Street between P and Q Streets; Southern Pacific-Central California Traction at Front and X Streets; and The Western Pacific-Central California Traction at 19th and X Streets. Crosses the Sacramento River from two to four times each shift.

SN Engine Assignment No. 32
Time Shift- 8:00 A.M. to 4:00 P.M. (daily)
Reporting Point -Same as Assignment No. 31

Duties- Same as Assignment No. 31 but in opposite direction. Generally starts switching about 8:30 A.M. and ties up about 4:00 P.M. Generally moves about 70 cars to and from an average of 10 spurs and sidings, including an average of 15 cars to and from those interchanges: The Western Pacific Railroad at Front Street between P and Q Streets; Southern Pacific-Central California Traction at Front and X Steets; and The Western Pacific-Central California Traction at 19th and X Streets. Crosses the Sacramento River between three and four times during each shift.

SP Engine Assignment - No Number (***)
Time Shift - 8:00 A.M. to 4:00 P.M. (daily)
Reporting Point - Southern Pacific Main Yard

Duties- Usually works in the yard for about one hour before leaving. Leaves with from 10 to 20 cars to switch industrial tracks on Front Street, the lower end of R Street, and along the levee to the industrial area south of Y Street (Broadway) between Front and 5th Streets. Switches The Western Pacific Railroad interchange at R and 4th Streets and Sacramento Northern-Central California Traction interchange at Front and X Streets, moving about 36 cars to and from the interchange. Returns to the yard about mid-shift to deliver and pick up, and completes the shift about 3:50 P.M, returning to the yard with from 12 to 20 cars. The switching movements ordinarily require the moving of about 70 cars to and from 17 spurs and sidings, including the interchange movements.

SP Engine Assignment No. 635
Time Shift 8:00 A.M. to 4:00 P.M. (daily)
Reporting Point- Southern Pacific Main Yard

Duties- Leaves the yard between 8:00 A.M. and 10:30 A.M., depending upon the amount of work in the yard, and returns between 3:00 P.M. and 4:00 P.M. Generally leaves with about 10 cars. Switches the industrial tracks along R Street from Front Street to Brighton Junction. Occasionally switches the line along the Sacramento River Levee. On the days when this is done this assignment also switches  the Sacramento Northern-Central California Traction interchange at Front and X Streets and the The Western Pacific interchange on R Street between 4th and 7th Streets. The switching ordinarily involves the moving of about 53 cars to and from an average of 11 different spurs and sidings, including an interchange movement of about 30 cars.

WP Engine Assignment No. 13
Time Shift - 8:00 A.M. to 4:00 P.M (daily)
Reporting Point- Western Pacific Main Yard

Duties- Generally leaves yard about 9:00 A.M. with 15 cars and returns about 3:30 P.M. with an equal number. Switches all industries north and south along 19th Street. and west along R Street to Front Street, including Sacramento Northern transfer tracks (receiving only) at Front Street, Southern Pacific interchange tracks at R and 4th Streets, Sacramento Northern-Central California Traction interchange tracks at 19th and X Streets, and the Sacramento Northern interchange at Haggin Yard. Returns to the yard twice during the shift to deliver and pick up. Ordinarily switches about 65 cars to and from 11 spurs and sidings, including an average of 15 cars to and from the four interchanges.

SN Engine Assignment - No. 143
Time Shift- 4:00 P.M. to 12:00 P.M (daily
Reporting Point- Varies: West Side Yard or 2d and M Streets.

Duties- Switches the entire system. Generally leaves the reporting point about 4:15 P.M. and ties up at one of the two reporting points between 11:30 P.M. and 12:00 PM. Usually switches to and from 12 spurs and sidings, moving about 60 cars, including 10 cars to and from the interchanges with The Western Pacific Railroad at Front and P Streets, the Southern Pacific-Central California Traction at Front and X Streets, and The Western Pacific-Central California Traction at 19th and X Streets. Crosses the Sacramento River between two and four times each shift.

SN Engine Assignment -No. 144
Time Shift- 4:00 P.M. to 12:00 P.M. (daily)
Reporting Point - Varies: West Side Yard; or 2d and M Streets.

Duties- Generally switches in yard for about one hour before starting to switch industrial tracks. Switches industries on est side of river and makes a daily trip to Woodland. Ordinarily switches only along Front Street to X Street, on the east side of  the river, including the interchanges with The Western Pacific at Front and P Street, and with Southern Pacific and Central California Traction at Front and X Streets. The switching is usually to and from four different spurs and sidings, moving about 25 cars, including an average of 15 cars to and from the above-named interchanges. Generally crosses the Sacramento River twice during each shift, but three or four times if starting from or tying up at 2d and M Streets yard.

SP Engine Assignment- No. 633
Time Shift- 4:00 P.M. to 12:00 P.M. (daily)
Reporting Point - Southern Pacific Main Yard

Duties - Generally works in yard on switching assignments for from two to four hours and leaves yard with an average of four cars; switches industries along Front Street to R Street, along R Street. Front to 5th Streets, and along the Sacramento River Levee, south, to the Standard Oil Company's plant on Y street (Broadway). Serves the Sacramento Northern-Central California Traction Interchange at Front and X Streets and The Western Pacific Railroad interchange at Front and X Streets and the The Western Pacific Railroad interchange at R and 4th Streets. The interchange movements average about 26 cars per day for this shift, and the switching movements require the moving of an average of 40 cars to and from 11 different spurs and sidings. It is the usual practice for the crew to return to the yard once during the shift to deliver and pick up. The work away from the yard is usually completed by 9:30 P.M and the shift is completed by switching in the main yard.

SP Engine Assignment - No. 636
Time Shift- 4:00 P.M. to 12:00 P.M. (daily)
Report Point - Southern Pacific Main Yard.

Duties - Leaves the yard about 5:30 P.M. with from 10 to 20 cars and generally ties up in the vicinity of Brighton Junction at the completion of the shift. Switches the industrial tracks along R Street. Occasionally switches The Western Pacific Railroad interchange at R and 4th Streets. The switching along R Street usually requires the moving of about 50 cars to and from an average of 14 different spurs and sidings.

WP Engine Assignment - No. 22
Time Shift - 4:00 P.M. to 12:00 P.M. (daily)
Reporting Point - Western Pacific Main Yard

Duties - Generally works in yard for about one hour before starting to switch industrial tracks along The Western Pacific main line, west along R Street, and 19th Street to Front Street. Also works all interchange tracks. Follows the pattern of Assignment No. 13. Usually switches between 60 and 70 cars to and from 11 spurs and sidings, including an average of 28 cars to and from the four interchanges.

3 comments:

  1. Great info! Fills a huge void in my R-street knowledge... :-)

    Cheers!
    Nalle

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  2. I worked the night R Street job in the early 1970's. On duty at at SP's Sacramento Yard at 11:00 pm. Gathered our cars and lined them up and usually were headed down the river between midnight and 1:00 am. Proceeded to the runaround track at Miller Park where we cut off our spot cars to go under I-5 and switch Dolans and occasionally a car of news print for the Greensheets. Coupled our pull cars to our drag then ran around everything to head back up the river to R street. We would leave our cars on the levee to pull and spot Thompson-Diggs after which to get the cars on the other end of us we would leave the engine on R St over I-5 and allow the cars on the levee to roll by us where we then coupled onto what was the rear car and which now had become the head car. Proceed down R St to switch Martin Gear and Sprocket, Crystal Creamery, Sacto Bee, the R St Team track and lastly Libby McNeal and Libby cannery. Then it was a long jaunt to 65th St (with an occasional stop to deliver a flat car of poles to SMUD)and the various industries at that end, Dorris Moulding, Market Wholesale, Superior Door, a tank farm (Unicol I think, not sure) and a couple other lumber mills usually heading back to Sacramento Yard via Brighton and Elvas by 7:00 am. I'm sure I left a few industries out.

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