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Railroaders' Nostalgia > More on Dayton Tower

Date: 01/28/21 13:45
More on Dayton Tower
Author: DocJones

Pete ("Zephyr") and I worked as L A Division operators during the same years. We were extra board guys and worked vacation relief all over the division. Around 1967 I did a three-week stint on first trick Dayton one summer. The low end C Yard yardmaster had a little cubicle in the tower that was partitioned off from the rest of the tower. For the most part he did his yardmaster thing and we did our tower thing. The usual drill was to let the Imperial Valley Beets come up the main to swap crews and sometime power and cabooses as well. During that time we would get the Coast Daylight, train 99, on the light and let him go around the beets which would follow 99 up the Coast. It seems yardmasters in general are in a permanent bad mood so this fellow, we'll call him "S.......the Root", boiled out of his office and yelled at me to let the beets go ahead of 99. I already had 99 lined through the plant and cleared the signal when the YM issued his order.  I told him, "now, let me get this right, you are ordering me to hold 99 for the beets. I just want to get this right for the investigation, is that correct?" With the appropriate amount of noise and smoke he repeated his order. So, I took away the signal. Thank goodness 99 was not in the block and the plant did not go into time which meant everything locked up for five minutes. However 99 was expecting a green and there was quite a bit of discussion over the radio about the whole deal. I believe I just said, "follow your signal indication" to 99 as discussion about signals and things was discouraged over the radio and I wasn't going to get into the middle of that fight. The beets got going and crept out onto the main line ahead of 99. I vaguely recall the beets really having a struggle around the curve at Burbank Jct. and staggering their way to Hewitt where they went in for 99 to pass. It made for an interesting morning. What I did not know or choose to realize was that SP was doing everythng it could to get rid of the passenger business and passenger trains were subject to such shenanigans as I witnessed at Dayton.  As the lawyers of today would tell me so say, "this is the best of my recollection" as it was indeed 56 years ago but the feeling of enjoyment of my SP days is still fresh in my mind. 

Have fun, be safe, stay well,

Bruce "Doc" Jones   Sierra Madre CA

Date: 01/28/21 15:02
Re: More on Dayton Tower
Author: cewherry

As SP passenger business continued to decline in the late 1960's the railroad answered the decline by paring 
the consist of its trains. I don't really know if the reductions in amenities preceded the loss of patronage or
vice versa. In the case of the Coast Daylight this meant replacing the dining and parlor cars with the much
despised Automat cars. In any event, the once proud Coast Daylight had become a mere shadow of its former self.

As No. 99, the Daylight's westward number, passed Dayton Avenue Tower one of the operators, in an apparent
effort to register his personal disgust with the decline of the once great train, would come on the radio and broadcast
with dripping, scarcely concealed sarcasm;

"Southern Pacific first --(heavy emphasis on the FIRST)-- class passenger train Number 99, The Coast Daylight,
now passing Dayton Tower; out".

The first time I heard this 'show' I thought; oh, boy, he's gonna hear about that! But the broadcasts went on and it became
a daily event. I never heard if there had been any notice of it by local management. Maybe they agreed with the operator.



Date: 01/28/21 15:49
Re: More on Dayton Tower
Author: WAF

By mid 60s, dining and lounge service was Christmas and summer only. Automats, the rest of the time. By late sixties, it was automat all year. At least the parlor car ( running 2 out of 3 days in a row), was all there was of the once great Coast Daylight

Date: 01/29/21 15:10
Re: More on Dayton Tower
Author: tehachcond

   When #75/76, the old "Lark" was about on its last legs (wings?) I stood for the Train Baggage job one night on #75.  Just for fun, I called the passenger reservation line without identifying myself, and asked if there was any sleeper space that night.  "Sleeper is booked solid," I was told.
   After we left LA, I asked the conductor if, in fact, the sleeper was full. "Hell no," he replied.  The sleeper is only about 25% booked."
   And this is howthe SP ran off the passenger business.

Brian Black
Castle Rock, CO

Date: 01/29/21 15:30
Re: More on Dayton Tower
Author: TAW

tehachcond Wrote:

>    And this is howthe SP ran off the passenger
> business.

I worked with a guy in Bakersfield who said that when he was an operator, they were instructed to respond to any public inquiry that there were no passenger trains. If the potential passenger objected, saying he had seen one, the answer was to be that was just old equipment being taken to the scrap yard.


Date: 02/13/21 10:46
Re: More on Dayton Tower
Author: 90mac

Good memories.


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