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Southern Pacific Railroad

The Southern Pacific Railroad (AAR reporting mark SP) was an American railroad. The railroad was founded in 1868, forming part of the Central Pacific Railroad empire. It was taken over by the Union Pacific Railroad in 1996 following years of financial problems.

The railroad is also noteworthy for being the defendant in the landmark 1886 United States Supreme Court case Santa Clara County v. Southern Pacific Railroad which is often interpreted as having established certain corporate rights under the Constitution of the United States.

Locomotive paint and appearance

Like most railroads, the SP painted the majority of its steam locomotive fleet black during the 20th century, but the SP had a policy of painting the front of the locomotive's smokebox white, possibly for visibility.

Some express passenger steam locomotives bore the Daylight scheme, named after the trains they hauled, all of which had the word Daylight in the train name. This scheme, carried in full on the tender, consisted of a bright, almost vermilion red on the top and bottom thirds, with the center third being a bright orange. The parts were separated with thin white bands. Some of the color continued along the locomotive.

During the early days of diesel locomotive use, they were also painted black. Yard switchers had diagonal orange stripes painted on the ends for visibility, earning this scheme the nickname of Tiger Stripe.

Road freight units were generally painted in a black scheme with a red band at the bottom of the carbody and a silver and orange 'winged' nose. The words "SOUTHERN PACIFIC" were borne in a large serif font in white. This paint scheme is called the Black Widow scheme by railfans.

A transitory scheme, of all-over black with orange 'winged' nose, was called the Halloween scheme.

Most passenger units were painted originally in the Daylight scheme as described above, though some were painted in Golden State livery (red on top, silver below) for use on the Golden State Limited to Chicago.

Later, SP standardised on a paint scheme of dark grey with a red 'winged' nose; this scheme was dubbed Bloody Nose by railfans. Lettering was again in white.

After the merger with the Denver & Rio Grande Western Railroad, the side lettering became often done in the Rio Grande 'speed lettering' style.

Unlike many other railroads, whose locomotives' numberboards bore the locomotive's number, the SP used them for the train number.

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