Southern Pacific Railroad History Center


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    Peter Baumhefner

    Working on SP’s Los Angeles Division I was exposed to three major classification yards on the Southern Pacific system; Los Angeles Taylor Yard, City of Industry and West Colton. Each had their own unique identity and idiosyncrasies. As West Colton came on line in the early 70s, Taylor Yard was meant to diminish in importance. Unfortunately, it took a few years before that all could come to pass. The smallest of all, City of Industry, known as an econometric hump, maintained a personality of consistency and efficiency throughout the entire phase in of West Colton and phase out of Taylor Yard. Industry consistently humped 1500+ cars every 24 hours, supported only by 5 A-Yard receiving/departure tracks, 4 C-Yard receiving/departure tracks, and 12 relatively short bowl tracks (now you know what “econometric” meant). This was a road crew facility with no switchmen, yardmasters, retarder operators or mechanical personnel on site. Road switcher assignments supported the operation and performed all the work. Mainline trains set-out and picked up at City of Industry and when West Colton was in the mode of “highball the set out because we’re plugged”, much of the West Colton traffic ended up at City of Industry. City of Industry accepted more and more volume that was formerly destined Taylor Yard and eventually all the harbor area traffic was worked through Industry. Yes, West Colton was spiffy, new and full of never before used technology, and Taylor was a perfect relic of the former vision of a hump yard, but Industry stood out as the strong sister between these two keeping the Los Angeles Division alive and functioning on a consistent basis for many years.

    Jack Fuller

    Having worked at Industry and WC, I can certainly say which design was worse.

    My experience with Taylor was when I was at WC. When WC was plugged [the result of chronic and acute lack of power], and we had to send an entire train to Taylor, NEVER ONCE did GVD refuse us. Never once. So whatever design occurred at Taylor, it worked.

    Taylor and the Shops also enabled compliance with the Burke Rule about intermodal empties. “Must have space for sufficient empties to protect 2 days of loadings.” ATSF [and later BNSF] couldn’t comply with this Rule without extensive and expensive shuffling of mtys as far east as Esperanza – 50 miles east of Hobart. Even with Taylor having vanished, UP has much storage space at Dolores and Industry.

    Beyond the near-fatal flaw of designing a yard on a significant grade, WC’s bowl symmetry displays a major flaw: it was designed and built without a corresponding operating plan. Indeed, that same defect is a pretty good description of SP’s entire operation.

    Industry’s bowl is not symmetric. There are high and low sides, with two parallel leads at the ‘trim’ end. The redeeming virtue of the Industry operation was its regular operation to and from the South Branches. In its wisdom, the railroad and its Unions agreed that Road Switcher, Local, and Yard assignments would have bulletined start times. If the job’s cars weren’t ready then, the crew went on the clock regardless.

    WC’s operation was not scheduled, but was based on maximum train lengths. Prior to its opening, the eastward main line operation between Taylor, Industry, Kaiser, Colton, and Indio was at least semi-scheduled. The same trains operated eastward from Taylor, leaving on 2nd shift. Memory fades with age, but there were trains to E. St. Louis, Houston, Phoenix, El Paso, and Ennis. [Cutler would have known the details.] The Maid Of All Work, the Colton/Kaiser, brought up the rear. So regular was this service that on Mondays [haulers returned cab hop from the South Branches], the pickups were of sufficient small size that they’s all fit in A1. The Crest simply provided a come-out number to the crew picking up.

    The westward operation succeeded or failed mainly on the on-time arrival of the CI train from Eugene. If late: screwed up Night and Day programs, and much catch-up.

    At some future writing, I may further discuss the operation of a yard that was designed to a specific operating plan, which was followed from the birth until the death of the yard: Rock Island’s Silvis IL hump.

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