1937: The Launch of the Daylight Limited Trains Between San Francisco and Los Angeles

March 21, 1937

Southern Pacific (SP) Railroad’s two newest Daylight streamliner trains made their first regular runs between San Francisco and Los Angeles. These passenger trains were both originally known as the Daylight Limited.

On the day of their shared debut, both trains each consisted of a dozen Pullman passenger cars that were pulled along by GS-2 steam locomotives. Both the southbound Daylight Limited in San Francisco and the northbound Daylight Limited in Los Angeles departed at 8:15 that morning and reached their respective destinations at 6:00 that evening, with each train thereby covering a total of 471 miles (758 kilometers) in nine hours and 45 minutes. 

At the start of those inaugural runs, Lorene Dyer — daughter of SP Vice-President J.H. Dyer — smashed a bottle of champagne against the locomotive in San Francisco. Meanwhile in Los Angeles, actress Olivia de Havilland similarly christened the locomotive there. These Daylight streamliner trains soon became very popular, with ridership numbers breaking records nationwide. (One of the trains is featured in the above postcard.)

Image Credit: Public Domain

Additional information on Southern Pacific (SP) Railroad’s Daylight streamliner trains is available at http://www.cprr.org/Museum/SP_1869-1944/

For more information on SP’s GS-2 steam locomotive, please check out https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Southern_Pacific_class_GS-2

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