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1955 to 1965

I have been and continue to be amazed at the number of photographs of the 5623 that have turned up since the Black Widow painting project started in 1995.  There have been so many folks out there who have give me free run of their photo collections and who have helped make the 5623 what she is and this web site what it is.  Thank you, one and all.

Medford, Oregon is the site of the oldest photo known of the 5623. Here, she is assigned to the Rogue River and keeps momentary company with Baldwin S12 1510. The other photo's location is not certain but the number in the boards is still that of her assignment in Oregon and the hills indicate the southern end of the run. Both photos were taken in August of 1955 by Al Haij.

Seen here in front of the Roseville station, the 5623 is in charge of number 202, the Gerber Local. As you can tell by the very short train, this was not a priority run in the Southern Pacific's passenger schedule. Photo 1956 by Al Phelps, Stan Kistler collection.

This photograph of the SD&AE Consolidation 103  and S.P. 0-6-0 1221 from 1955-56 was taken at the San Jose engine facility by a youthful photographer who was far more fascinated by the 103 when it first showed up at Burlingame working the local there, than he was by a nearly brand new diesel.  The crew often tied up for lunch at the Borden creamery on Howard Avenue and California Drive, just up from the freight station, which allowed him ample time to study the locomotive in detail, visit with the fireman and even  arrange a ride or two during the rest of the work around town at the sand and gravel plants.   Image courtesy of the Chathan Publishing Company archives.

Scooting along, outside Roseville, number 202 is on her way. One wonders exactly how many riders were on that coach. Photo 1956 by Al Phelps, Stan Kistler collection.

Departing the Oakland Mole with train 226 (the Senator) in tow, the 5623 is carded to arrive in Sacramento 2 hours and 15 minutes later. The Senator last operated May 31, 1962. The box car on the right was spotted at the Albers Mill by the Oakland Terminal Railway, where the 5623 makes her home now. Photo 02/56 by Al Phelps, Stan Kistler collection.

In charge of train 250, the "Coast Daylight" connection from Oakland, the 5623 is pulling into Santa Clara. The streamlined car on the rear will be attached to the Daylight's consist and head for Los Angeles. Photo August, 1956 by John Shaw.

Here at Paul Avenue, the 5623 is displaying "X5623" in her number boards and is running M.U. with cousin 5603, most likely on a Stanford Football special, Suntan heading for Santa Cruz, or a Bay Meadows (horse) racing special. She now displays "Radio Equipped" on both sides of her short hood. Photo 08/03/58 by Don Hansen.

Train number 116 is a daily commute carded to leave San Francisco at 12:45 P.M. and arrive San Jose at 2:05, making 17 stops along the way. On this date, the 5623 was obviously not in charge of the resort visitors heading for Monterey. Photo 10/13/58 by Don Hansen.

The Del Monte ran as trains 77 and 78 from July, 1947 until November, 1960. The torpedo boats are probably most well remembered for carrying these numbers in their boards. This classic view is at 3rd and Townsend in San Francisco. Photo 07/12/59 by Don Hansen.

Sometime in 1959, the 5623 received "SF/COM" lettering on her cab sides, indicating her assignment to the San Francisco Commute pool. Photo 09/05/59 by Don Hansen.

The 5623 is visiting the Mission Bay roundhouse in San Francisco. Photo 09/09/59 by Don Hansen.

The 5623 is in good company in this photo with Train Masters 4801, 4800 and 4809 and Bloody Nose freight Geep 5801 to her left. At the extreme right of the photo is a steam locomotive water column, a sign that the age of steam is not far gone from Mission Bay. Photo 09/09/59 by Don Hansen.

Number 77 waiting for departure. This is a good view of the cars normally found in the Del Monte consist. Photo 09/27/59 by Don Hansen.

In this Will Whittaker view in November, 1959 one can see a freshly painted 5602 coupled to the long hood of the 5623. The 5602 was the third passenger GP9 bought by the S.P. and among the first to received the new "Bloody Nose" paint scheme in 1959. The paint on the 5623 is very faded by this time and it too will soon receive the new livery. The tight-lock coupler and bottom style coupling mechanism are clearly evident in this photo.

Tacked on to number 77, the 3 bi-levels on the rear of the train are probably being dead-headed to San Jose. Photo 12/05/59 by Don Hansen.

Waiting for departure as an extra, as indicated by the "X5623" in the number boards, the 5623 has just about seen the last of its well worn black widow paint job. Looking for all the world like a Del Monte without the "American Flyer" car, the purpose of this train is undocumented. Photo 10/02/60 by Don Hansen.

Robert Morris caught ex-T&NO 5894 with 5623 trailing, about to enter San Francisco's tunnel 1 in 1961. The lead GP9 illustrates the face of the Texas graduates with the unusual number boards and the front number placed on the silver, above the orange wing. When she was the T&NO #280, there was small "TNO" lettering next to each class light. 5894 went on to become the 3000 in 1965 and the 3187 in 1977. 5623 did not always lead.

Tony Johnson happened upon the 5623 one day in 1961 at the San Francisco 7th street terminal.  Notice how the coupler cut lever passes under the MU hoses.  The hoses are extended out from the frame by an angled bracket which mimics the curve of the pilot.  Only the 8 Geeps with the fancy pilots had this type of bracket.

Camp Roberts is located on the Southern Pacific coast line about half way between Los Angeles and San Francisco, or more precisely about 12 miles north of Paso Robles.  Each year the National Guard would send several thousand troops via special trains provided by the Southern Pacific and other railroads for their annual summer camp training adventure.  I’m not sure how many trains were run in 1965, but I know of at least four that went through Glendale. The trains ran northbound on a Saturday and at least one of these trains returned two weeks later on a Sunday morning.  One of these trains was loaded and unloaded at Glendale.    The big day started off with the arrival of 2-76 which was a deadhead move consisting of 22 commuter cars, pulled by four commuter geeps. This train would board the Nation Guard troops at Glendale that evening, and would run as 2-75.  Photo by Bernard Levine, collection of John Sjolander.  Caption courtesy of John Sjolander.

Train number 126 with sister 5622, both in Bloody Nose. Train 126 is the Del Monte combined with a commute and the extra cars will be left in San Jose. The return Del Monte was train 139 and it too would carry commuters in extra cars. The train ran as 126/139 from January, 1961 until its demise with the inception of AMTRAK on 4/30/1971. Photo by Don Hansen.

While not strictly a photo of the 5623, this interesting shot by Drew Jacksich illustrates the early use of SP passenger power in freight service over weekends.  Drew caught the 5623 and leading F7 6235 pulling out of College Park yard in San Jose and heading up the Milpitas line.

From my collection comes this small Del Monte advertising card distributed in the days when the train ran all the way to Pacific Grove. The 3 hour 20 minute trip included 14 stops between San Francisco and the end of the line. The 5 minutes southbound and 7 minutes northbound in San Jose were for the convenience of the railroad in adding and subtracting the extra cars on train 126/139, according to old-timers I have talked to.

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