Sunday, April 7, 2013


SP Train Number 375, The Starpacer, Arriving at the East End of Bakersfield, c.1971

In the late 1960's and early 1970's Bakersfield Yard was a busy place. Bakersfield served as the terminal for trains originating in Los Angeles, Colton, Fresno, and Roseville. Most trains either off of the valley or off of the hill, were routed into the yard, and onto one of the yard's numerous tracks. The main line(s) paralleled the yard tracks, and afforded the only direct pathway through the yard.

Hotshot trains, like the Starpacer, were normally brought down the main for a power change at the Yardmaster's tower. My job as the East-end Switch Tender was to route trains into and out of the yard. I would do so by "lining" the proper switches either to or from the east-bound or west-bound main lines.

I took this photograph one dawn as train number 375 passed the east end on the west-bound main toward Kern Junction and the Yardmaster's tower. "He" was likely doing a little less than forty miles-per-hour in this photo.