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Southern Pacific Railroad piggyback train 340
at Tunnel 5 in the Tehachapi Mountains

Southern Pacific Railroad piggyback train 340 at Bealville, CA in the Tehachapi Mountains

The southbound counterpart to the northbound Starpacer was train 340. Normally it goes through the Tehachapi Mountains early in the morning before sunrise. However, heavy rains in Oregon and northern California was causing serious delays and I was able to catch one of its daylight runs over the mountain on February 9, 1974.

The July 21, 1952 7.5 magnitude earthquake hit at 4:52 AM and lasted all of 24 seconds. 14 people died, 11 in the town of Tehachapi. It was the strongest to hit California since the 1906 San Francisco quake. There was damage as far away as Las Vegas and it caused power outages in Los Angeles. Bear Mountain (5 miles south of Bealville) moved three feet to the north. Tunnels 3 and 4 were pushed 8 feet closer together. There was a cave-in at Tunnel 6 and cave-ins at both ends of Tunnel 5. Near Tunnel 1 the ground gave way and the track sagged in the air two feet above the ballast. 188 afterschocks, sometimes as many as 40 per day, were felt for several days after the initial quake. For Bakersfield, the stongest afterschock came on August 22 and caused an additional $10 million in property damage mostly to brick buildings in the downtown area. Morrison-Knudsen was called in to do a $3.5M earthmoving and reconstruction project. Tunnnel 4 was bypassed by removing the mountain next to it. Tunnel 6 was daylighted. Most of the materila removed was used to build a shoo-fly around Tunnel 5.

Southern Pacific Railroad piggyback train 340 at Tunnel 4 in the Tehachapi Mountains

Train 340 is coming by Tunnel 4. You can see how much earth had to be removed to open up the mountain that had been above the tunnel to provide a path to route the tracks around the tunnel. Some of this dirt was used in the fill for the emergency shoofly that bypassed Tunnel 5. The shoofly was on a grade of almost 2.4 percent with 15 degree curves. After Tunnel 5 was repaired, the shoofly became a very wide M/W access road up to Cliff.

Southern Pacific Railroad piggyback train 340 coming out of Tunnel 5 in the Tehachapi Mountains

Tunnel 5 is the longest in the climb up the Tehachapi Mountains at 1,156 feet. As slow moving trains move through the tunnel the trailing units must breath the hot smoky air. The amount of smoke is in indirect proportion to the speed. The slower the train the greater the amount of smoke. Engine 7155 is a U28C and had been purchased initially in 1966 to work on the iron ore trains between the connection with the Eagle Mountain Railroad at Ferrum and the Kaiser Steel mills at Fontana.

Tunnel 5 has been a pain for the railroad from the beginning. Most railfans know about the Tehachapi earthquake that damaged the tunnels between Bealville and Cliff in 1952. However, few know about the derailment in 1920 that closed down the line for three weeks in 1920. A car load of lime derailed inside Tunnel 5 on September 6, 1920. The car caught fire and ignited the timbers resulting in a cave-in. Traffic was diverted to the Coast Route. The fire was finally put out, repairs made, and traffic restored on September 28th. Disk 42