Southern Pacific Railroad History Center


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    Greetings from Bill Fowler, President of the Southern Pacific Railroad History Center:

    This page has been established to facilitate the exchange of ideas about the History of Southern Pacific between all visitors to the Forum Page.  The directors of the History Center can provide in depth information about the various aspects of Southern Pacific  Some of the highlights of our Southern Pacific backgrounds and other experience are outlined below.  We welcome your questions, concerns, and thoughts.  We will respond thoughtfully and politely, and if we do not have answers, we will either tell you so or obtain information from others who worked for Southern Pacific.

    Pete Baumhefner began his Southern Pacific career working on the Los Angeles Division as a temporary train order operator during summers after graduating from high school.  After receiving his bachelor’s degree from the University of California at Los Angeles, Pete became a full time employee of Southern Pacific.  He quickly rose through the ranks of the operating department at Los Angeles from train dispatcher to assistant division superintendent.  He then left Southern Pacific and spent the remainder of his transportation career working for American President Intermodal, American President Land Transport Services, and Pacer Stacktrain.  In these latter assignments, Pete was intimately involved with rail operations, rail network design, port terminal rail infrastructure development, warehousing, and intermodal equipment maintenance and repair.

    Rollin Bredenberg’s first Southern Pacific assignment in 1964 was clerking in Brownsville, Texas.  After he graduated from college, he was rapidly promoted in the operating department, starting as a trainman and becoming general manager on the eastern and western regions of Southern Pacific.  Subsequently, he was promoted to vice president of Southern Pacific’s Mexico business unit, responsible for commercial and operating activities of Southern Pacific in Mexico.  Between 1994 and 2016 Rollin was an executive for the Santa Fe and BNSF, where he was eventually responsible of capacity planning operations research.

    Ray Chong’s great-great grandfather helped to build the Central Pacific through the Sierra in the 1860s.  Ray has extensively delved into the history of the Central Pacific during this period, and he is currently researching the construction of Southern Pacific’s second transcontinental mainline between Lathrop, California and western Texas, focusing on the contributions made by people of Chinese heritage.

    Bill Fowler was employed by Southern Pacific at the time of the merger of Southern Pacific and Union Pacific on September 11, 1996, after which he became an officer of Union Pacific and would complete his railroad career in Omaha, Nebraska.  Bill was initially employed in November 1964 as a messenger in Southern Pacific’s freight traffic department.  His spent most of his Southern Pacific career working in the contract department, where he eventually was promoted to managing director – contracts and joint facilities.  The contract department was essential to the success of the operating department, and Bill’s assignments placed him in frequent contact with all of the other departments and sub-departments of Southern Pacific, providing him with insights as to how the many groups worked together in tandem with one another.

    Ann Hasse was recruited to join Southern Pacific’s law department in 1980 because of her expertise in antitrust law.  Her contributions to Southern Pacific were invaluable as the company transitioned from setting its rates for freight transportation from tariffs to entering into written confidential rail contracts to memorialize negotiations of freight charges between Southern Pacific and its commercial customers.  Ann was also involved with the creation of Sprint, which found its genesis in Southern Pacific communications department (

    Gene Harmon was a seasoned marketing professional when he joined Southern Pacific’s nascent marking department in the late 1970s.  He was involved in several of the marketing department’s major initiatives, including one that explored and implemented ways to capture wood chip business from the trucking industry, particularly in Oregon.  Gene also has expertise in quality and logistics.

    Willard Keeney joined Southern Pacific July, 1978 to take a position in the then-new marketing department at Southern Pacific.  He was initially manager of covered hoppers and later of the plain boxcar fleet.  He then became a manager in Southern Pacific’s operating department at the beginning of 1981, initially as assistant terminal superintendent at Roseville, subsequently trainmaster at Sparks, then to the Los Angeles Division as terminal superintendent at City of Industry, terminal superintendent at West Colton, and assistant division superintendent at Los Angeles.  Willard operates a consulting business in which he specializes in railroad simulation modeling.

    Leslie Savoye had held the positions of brakeman, conductor, fireman, and locomotive engineer (she was the second female locomotive engineer in the United States) for the Chicago and North Western Railroad when she was hired by Southern Pacific in 1979 as a locomotive engineer.  She left Southern Pacific in 1987, when she was hired by Amtrak as the first woman road foreman of engines in the United States.  Leslie has also worked in intermodal and automotive operations, and she has studied human factors incidents and accidents to improve railroad safety for the Federal Railroad Administration as an employee of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration.  She continues to work as a consultant teaching train handling, operations, and rules for various shortline railroad companies.

    Finally, please feel free to email me at

    Best regards,

    Bill Fowler


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