Southern Pacific Railroad History Center


Engineering Department

The engineering department is a sub department of the operating department.  Its purpose is to provide and maintain all types of fixed facilities. The chief engineer reports to the vice president – operations and consults with the general managers on matters involving operations and other concerns they may have concerning engineering activities.

The function of the engineering department is to design and construct new facilities, trackage, bridges, buildings, shops, signal systems, and maintain, repair and improve existing facilities. Facilities include all fixed facilities and properties under the jurisdiction of the operating department. Carrying out of this function requires close coordination with other Southern Pacific departments and covers the entire system and its operating subsidiaries. In addition, the chief engineer performs the engineering function for all non-rail subsidiaries, such as Southern Pacific Pipelines and Pacific Motor Trucking.  The chief engineer is also responsible for all engineering activities for  the St. Louis Southwestern Railway Company, also known as the Cotton Belt.

The chief engineer’s office in San Francisco is organized as follows: general planning and drafting department, signal department, bridge department, water and fuel department, appropriations department, architectural department, electrical department, valuation department, property appraisals, tie treating plant, maintenance of way shops and equipment, scale shop, sign shop, welding plants, and the like. These groups report to the chief engineer or assistant chief engineer – administration on new construction and improvements, agreements, design, and general engineering administration; and to the assistant chief engineer – maintenance on maintenance matters, including agreements relating to such activities.

Actual construction and maintenance work, including field engineering, is under the jurisdiction of the division engineers reporting to the chief engineer and assistant chief engineers.

Track construction at Alhambra, California on July 21, 1978. Shown in the upper right of the photo is the LAEST, with SP 9251 on the head end. Photo by Mike McGinley.

Track construction at Alhambra, California on July 21, 1977.  In the upper center of the photo, SP 9251 is moving out smartly on the head end of the LAEST.  Photo by Mike McGinley.

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