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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 Coast Line between San Francisco and Los Angeles is an historic rail route. And it is more than that: it is regional history, it is geography, it is freight as well as passenger trains, and it is people, the people who did the railroad's work, those who lived along the line, and those who rode the trains. With roots in the time of the padres, the Coast Line fostered development of towns, agriculture and industry, and the social fabric of the region itself. Accordingly, any history of the Coast Line is also in part a history of California.
John R. Signor, well-known for six previous books on western railroads and in particular Southern Pacific, has drawn on many historical sources, including the extensive files of the railroad itself, to produce this outstanding history. Liberally illustrated with hundreds of photographs, many unpublished, and with railroad graphics and ephemera, the book also includes the author's own fine maps.
This outstanding treatment of the Coast Line is a welcome and very fitting addition to the history and lore of this part of the Southern Pacific railroad. It will also enrich one's understanding of the history of California and the West.
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