This is my favorite era of American railroading. First-Generation diesels in their as-delivered and later day paint schemes. Passenger trains carrying the mail, Alco PAs and EMD F-units. Depots still well-maintained including those made out of wood. Unusual diesels now long-gone such as Southern Pacific's U50s and various Baldwin-made locomotives. There are a handful of Southern Pacific steam photographs such as a head-on shot of 4445 starting to leave Bakersfield with the depot in the background. The Kaiser Steel ore-trains, Trona Railway, Plaster City narrow gauge, Pacific Electric, Santa Fe red-and-silver, 40 foot billboard boxcars, clean diesels and no graffiti. I personally missed this era and saw the remains later on. I need a time machine to go back and experience it all. What a glorious railroad era!
The photographs count approximates each railroad's presence in southern California. First is Southern Pacific with Santa Fe as a close second. Union Pacific is a distant third place. Most pages have one large photograph with captions. Other pages have two and a few pages three photographs.
Some railfans wish they lived in southern California. Others were fortunate enough to have been born there. Tom Gildersleeve, Gordon Glattenberg, and the late William H. "Hank" Mills are among the latter.
The photographic trio began their exploration of the Southland in the early 1950s, when profound societal and technological change began to sweep the Golden State. Beyond the Technicolor dreams Hollywood was sending around the world, citrus groves were steadily giving way to industrialization and suburban sprawl. An expanding web of freeways was turning trolleys into antiques, while colorful new diesel locomotives steadily took the reins from steam's iron horse. Transition was in full flower, providing the authors with intriguing subject matter cast against a wide array of dramatic settings.
At a time when most photographers documented the industry in B&W, Gildersleeve, Glattenberg, and Mills made Kodachrome their film of choice, opting for a medium that could realistically capture the full palette of their surroundings. Popular publishing was predominantly a monochrome enterprise, providing few opportunities for color shooters beyond slide shows at private homes and railroad club meetings. It would be the mid-1970s before new technology allowed all three of the authors to reach a wider audience.
The decision to concentrate on color photography might be construed as an act of faith, with little reward beyond the satisfaction of a job well done. As this volume will attest, that faith has been rewarded on a grand scale. Some 345 color images invite inspection, the majority of them being published for the first time. Focusing on the years between the mid-1950s and late 1960s, Southland takes the reader on a wide-ranging tour of the region between Bakersfield and the Mexican border. Six chapters and eight detailed maps, with comprehensive captions by award-winning photojournalist Ted Benson, convey the excitement of Southern California railroading in the golden age of Kodachrome.
Over 250 action-packed pages depict the full sweep of activity, from Santa Fe Alco PAs and Union Pacific gas-turbine electrics battling Cajon Pass, to Southern Pacific 4449 in the days when the famed steam locomotive was just another Daylight 4-8-4. Red and yellow trolley cars thread the bustling streets of Los Angeles, contrasting with trios of GP9s roaming the wilds of Carrizo Gorge. From busy double-track mountain main lines to thrice-weekly locals in the Mojave Desert, there's something for every reader in the pages of Southland.
Tehachapi and Beyond, pp. 6-51;
Owenyo Branch, pp. 52-59;
Saugus Line, pp. 60-79;
Los Angeles Basin, pp. 80-123;
The Surf Line, pp. 124-149;
Imperial Gateway, pp. 150-151;
San Diego & Arizona Eastern, pp. 152-164;
Kaiser Steel, pp. 164-173;
Sunset Route, pp. 174-191;
Cajon Pass, pp. 192-231;
Mojave Crossings, pp. 232-255;
Afterword, pg. 256.
White River Productions, 256 pages, 12 x 9 x .5 in., Color photographs with captions, maps.