Southern Pacific Railroad History Center


Business Development on Southern Pacific After World War II

After World War II, pent up demand drove economic growth in this country, particularly in the western United States.  Housing developments in California resulted in a need for lumber from Oregon and northwestern California, and the advent of air conditioning created a demand for new homes and commercial and industrial buildings in Texas and Arizona.  In addition, increased demand in the United States for refined products from oil, plastic pellets, and chemicals lead to the construction of plants in the greater Houston area.  Moreover, several automobile plants and numerous industrial parks were constructed in northern and southern California.  All this activity required rail service and Southern Pacific was uniquely positioned to provide it.   An industrial development department, which was very active between the mid-1960s and early 1980s, was created by Southern Pacific to address the needs of developers, including providing assistance in acquiring property that could be rail served.

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