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Southern Pacific's Coast Line

by John R. Signor


CL jacket

From its origins in the 1870s, through its completion in 1901 and its flowering in the late 1930s, to its ultimate development in the years after World War II, Southern Pacific's rail line along the Pacific Ocean coast typified both the railroad itself, and the railroad's role in growth and development of California communities. The history of this line encompasses much more than rail history; it is also bound up in the geography and the people of the coast. As the railroad aided in development of towns, agriculture and industry, so the territory provided traffic for the railroad. Any history of the Coast Line is also in part a history of California, for the railroad and its territory were and are inextricably joined.

John R. Signor, well known for his six previous books on western railroad topics and on Southern Pacific in particular, has included all these aspects of the Coast Line in this new book. Drawing on many historical resources, but most dramatically on the extensive files of the Southern Pacific itself, he has produced a broad history of the SP in coastal California, liberally illustrated with hundreds of photographs, the majority of them previously unpublished. Signor's fine maps also enliven and enrich the text, as do the railroad graphics and ephemera included.

This outstanding treatment is a welcome and very fitting addition to the history and lore of this part of the Southern Pacific, and indeed of the entire railroad. It will also enrich understanding of the history of California and the West.

Comments by reviewers

"Signor has previously authored six highly regarded books...his latest effort is the best of the lot." (full review also available)

-- Richard Hendrickson, in Railroad Model Craftsman magazine

The strength of the book lies in its excellent photos and strong research. Author Signor has already proven he knows his railroad. With this book, he is again right on the money." (full review also available)

-- David Lustig, in Trains magazine.

"You don't have to be a railroad buff to fall in love with this story...a memorable track tour."

-- San Francisco Chronicle

"Signor's text is thorough, authoritative and graceful, with a fine gallery of hundreds of photos. An extraordinary book: a rare confluence of art, scholarship, authorship and publishing." (full review also available)

--Book News, Portland, Ore.

Also available Table of Contents and full reviews


Particulars: Southern Pacific's Coast Line, by John R. Signor
List price: $65     Size: 324 pages, 8.5" x 11"; 14 maps, 532 B&W photos, 32 color photos
ISBN: 0-9633791-3-5     Publication date: June 15, 1995
Distribution: Western Star Distributors, Lompoc, CA; or direct from publisher.