By Daylight to San Francisco, Published 30 June 1945Hitherto, all my train trips between Los Angeles and San Francisco have been by night, but this time I determined to make the 470 mile trip by daylight, and on a train named, appropriately enough. The Daylight. Getting on that train, however, sounds easier than it is. First of all, even to ride an ordinary day coach on the Southern Pacific in California, you have to have an extra ticket.
Let me make this plain. So great is the congestion in California, that the S.P. for a couple of years now has been rationing travel, and thus it has come about, that anybody wanting to go from one place to another by Southern Pacific, by day coach, finds his railway ticket is not good enough. He must also have another ticket permitting him to ride on that particular train, that particular day.
To get on The Daylight, takes much more doing, but I was able to manage this by starting pourparlers from Leo Sauve's Sparks street parlors, and by the time I got to California, Vice President C. E. Peterson of the Southern Pacific was asking what he could do for me.
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This Daylight is a train painted red and yellow, even to the engine. Thus you can look out and see a straight band of red twenty cars long, from the observation car bay window to the streamlined snout of No. 4452. Add aluminum paint to this handsome big oo-OOOO-oo, and you have a picture no artist would paint, but worth seeing just the same.
The Daylight also has a baggage feature you'd like. The redcap or yourself leave the baggage at the doorway. There a compartment in the car near platform level opens up, and the baggage is popped in. Then it is raised on a little lift to a compartment on the car floor, where the porter later labels it, and ultimately, despatches it out the same way. Your baggage travels deluxe on The Daylight.
The Daylight has several interesting features, not the least of which is fluorescent lighting. This is particularly effective when the train goes through one of the frequent tunnels. Another feature is the double-diner in the middle. It operates continuously, like a restaurant, and you can get the very best of food at reasonable prices. The cheapest train meals I struck during the trip were on this deluxe Daylight. I think I was up there three times, trying the diners under different circumstances. Finally, there was a loud speaker system, which had its virtues, and its drawbacks.
I had been on this run before, but it seemed, as I sat in the observation car, that I was on my first trip over the line. We quickly drew away from Los Angeles, and on an early curve, it was a thrill to see this twenty-car train gracefully bend its red spine around the rails. Indeed, all day, I felt that every curve was a treat. This was particularly true when we got into the hills.
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We ran through palm trees and flowering shrubs, we bisected orange groves and eucalyptus. Southern California could look no lovelier, as we took the scenery, sometimes at a mile a minute,or again, at a slow crawl through towns. On the left was the Pacific, now as calm as a millpond, and again, pounding itself to pieces on rocky promontories. Oil wells stood out at sea. and then ships of all kinds clustered in the little harbors. I should imagine that there is still a veil of security over their comings and goings, and doings.
Just to hear the names repeated, merely to read them in print, gives you an idea of this part of the world, and its appeal to the tourist. There's entrancing Santa Barbara, where the old mission spires of a long abandoned Spanish civilization arc mirrored in an ancient open well. There's Surf, so well named for its breakers, and of course, the most interesting name of all. San Luis Obispo (St. Louis the Bishop. Here you leave Southern California for Northern California, and here too, the two Daylights pass.
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But most exciting of all. you couple on another engine, to take you up more than half a mile into the air. Up is the way the train goes after it leaves San Luis. It is quite exciting to see another train, farther up, pass you going in the opposite direction, and then to realize a second later it is your own. Then do you realize how bright your red and orange train is, as you note S.P. 3710. the dirty black helper engine, her ten drivers pounding up over the top to Santa Margareta. The pressure eases in the midst of a tunnel, and you know you are over the hump.
I could get lyric over Atascadero, where Paderewski once boiled the aches out of his fingers with mud. and could extol the country around Salinas. A girl working in Murray's, waiting for her Canadian soldier husband to get his discharge, if you encourage her, gets nostalgic sometimes as she serves the coffee, when you get talking about Salinas. It would take a lot of love for me to live in Ottawa, if I could live somewhere around Salinas.