Southern Pacific in the Northwest
Southern Pacific’s present in the Northwest was mostly constrained to Oregon. From California their tracks went straight up to Portland, and from there they had branch lines spreading out all over the Willamette Valley. After the BN merger in 1970, Southern Pacific gain trackage rights to Seattle. They had one northbound train, #112, and one southbound train, #111, between Seattle and Portland.
The Willamette Valley was the closest place for me to see Southern Pacific mainline freight trains. Track access and photo locations were limited, and low traffic volumes made photographing trains a real challenge. On top of that, the Valley was not a safe place to be with lots of exspensive camera equipment.
The most confusing aspect of railfanning the SP was train direction. Trains traveling toward San Fransisco (their HQ) were westbounds, and trains traveling away from San Fransisco were eastbounds. This meant trains going north to Portland were eastbounds, and all trains leaving Portland headed south, were westbounds. When traveling to a location on the coast like Tillamook, or Coos Bay, OR we all think that we are westbound, but to the SP their trains were eastbound. After the merger with Union Pacific this backward practice ended.
Southern Pacific had struggled since the failed merger with the Santa Fe back in the mid-80s. After the BN-ATSF holding companies merged in 1995, the SP was running on borrowed time. In September 1996, the Southern Pacific disappeared into the Union Pacific. Most of my photography of the SP is from that final summer.
Southern Pacific locomotives were known for their layer of filth, and grime. The dark gray paint scheme combined with ugly sun-angles, made photographing trains more difficult. To combat these "1st World Problems", I stuck to Plus-X and Tri-X films with a #12 or #15 yellow filter during the final days.