Southern Pacific's Western Division
by John R. Signor.
Cloth with dust jacket, 414 pages, 8.5x11"; 711 photos (84 in color); 23 maps, station list, bibliography, index. 2003.
"The Oakland Pier, hub of the Western Division, was among the most recognizable Southern Pacific locations, and activities across the Division were directed from headquarters at the Pier. This book by noted SP historian John Signor describes the construction, history, and operation of this vital part of the SP.
"With lines connecting Oakland with Sacramento by way of both the Carquinez Strait via Martinez, and Altamont Pass via Tracy, and lines radiating to the Napa Valley, San Jose, and Fresno, as well as branch lines like the Kentucky House, Winters, and San Ramon branches, this was a highly varied and extremely busy division.
"Passenger trains arrived from and departed to such varied destinations as Portland, Chicago, and Los Angeles and beyond, all with ferryboat connections to San Francisco. The freight business was intense, with profuse local industry both shipping and receiving enormous numbers of carloads. Local passenger trains, and local freight switching, handled a great volume of business.
"From its beginnings in 1869, through the Oakland 'waterfront wars' at the turn of the century, the struggle in the Suisun Sinks, activities of the vast West Oakland yard and terminal facilities, as well as passenger operations on the Oakland Mole (as the Pier was often called), and construction of the magnificent Carquinez Straits bridge, to the final demolition of the Pier facilities in 1960 and to the recent revival of the Western Division with the schedules of Amtrak California, this book covers it all.
"This volume joins a distinguished series of works by Southern Pacific authority John Signor, addressing specific geographical segments of the railroad. As with all his SP historical works, the coverage is thorough and detailed, with many specifics drawn from operating personnel. At the same time, the outstanding Signor maps we have come to expect, and voluminous photographic illustration from Southern Pacific files as well as from many amateur photographers, enrich the story.
"John R. Signor is a well-known author, with eight previous books to his credit, and is also an accomplished artist and cartographer. His maps have appeared in a number of books and magazines dealing with Western railroad history. For a number of years, he was a trainman for the Southern Pacific, and now resides in Dunsmuir, Calif. He is editor of the Southern Pacific Historical & Technical Society magazine, Trainline, and models Southern California in HO scale. His books include Rails in the Shadow of Mt. Shasta (1982), Tehachapi (1983), Donner Pass (1985), Southern Pacific of Mexico (with John A. Kirchner, 1987), The Los Angeles & Salt Lake Railroad (1988), Beaumont Hill (1990)."