The interior of Oakland Long Wharf, with the Pacific Limited at right.

(Scanned postcard from Alameda Info, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons)


Pacific Limited drumhead.


The Pacific Limited was an American named passenger train which from 1913 to 1947 was jointly operated by three railroads on the Overland Route between Portland, Oregon, Oakland, California, Los Angeles, California and Chicago. The Southern Pacific Railroad (SP) handled the train west of Ogden, Utah, the Union Pacific Railroad (UP) between Ogden and Omaha, Nebraska, and east of the Missouri River to Chicago it was operated at different times by the Chicago, Milwaukee, St. Paul and Pacific Railroad (MILW) or the Chicago and North Western Railway (CNW). While the train was advertised as going to San Francisco, it actually went to Oakland. Passengers completed the trip by ferry from Oakland Pier to the San Francisco Ferry Building at the foot of Market Street in San Francisco.


Postcard photo of Union Pacific steam locomotive No. 7007 pulling train No. 112, the Pacific Limited east of Cheyenne, Wyoming in 1933. The photo was taken by noted railroad photographer Otto Perry. Perry earned his living as a mailman in Denver; photographing trains was a hobby he pursued for many years. Perry was also known to travel outside of the Denver area to photograph trains. Like many other railfans who take photos, Perry had prints made up as postcards and used a ink stamp to identify their work as these photos were shared with others who also had a hobby of photographing trains. Perry died in 1970, leaving his collection of train photos and negatives to the Denver Public Library. (Otto C, Perry, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons)



The Pacific Limited first ran on 3 April 1913 as train numbers 19 and 20 carrying standard and tourist sleeping cars on a 68-hour trip between San Francisco and Chicago over the SP, the UP, and the MILW railroads. Trains ran over the CNW east of Omaha rather than the MILW under United States Railroad Administration (USRA) control from 2 June 1918 to 14 November 1920. Routing east of Omaha returned to the CNW as a result of Great Depression service reductions in September 1930. Pacific Limited train numbers were changed to 20 and 21 on 11 December 1932, to 10 and 21 on 1 April 1933, to 14 and 21 on 1 April 1935, and to 21 and 22 on 7 June 1942. The Pacific Limited operated briefly as the Pacific after 10 July 1947.



Service over the UP and CNW was cancelled on 1 October 1947 and replaced by the SP Mail handling baggage, mail, and express cars between Oakland and Ogden, Utah with a single coach for local passengers.


St. Louis Express drumhead.

Saint Louis Express

Upon expiration of USRA control on 14 November 1920, the Wabash Railroad initiated the Saint Louis Express as train numbers 21 and 22 carrying coaches with standard and tourist sleeping cars between St. Louis and the Overland Route over which UP and SP took those trains to and from San Francisco. Six years later the Saint Louis Express was consolidated with the Pacific Limited on the Overland Route.


The Gold Coast in 1952.

(Richard Steinheimer, Trains and Travel, W. Lenheim Collection)


Gold Coast drumhead.

Gold Coast

See main article: Gold Coast Limited

Cancellation of the Saint Louis Express on 14 November 1926 coincided with a faster schedule requiring extra fare for the Overland Limited. The Gold Coast began operating over the same Overland Route on the old slower schedule as trains 27 and 28. The Gold Coast was temporarily discontinued on 14 June 1931 as part of the Great Depression service reductions, but reappeared as train numbers 23 and 24 on 1 October 1947 with a 58.5-hour schedule for first class and coach passengers between San Francisco and Chicago replacing both the Pacific Limited and the San Francisco Challenger. The Gold Coast was discontinued on 9 January 1955.



Service type: Inter-city rail
Status: Discontinued
Locale: Central and Western United States
First service: 1913
Last service: 1947
Former operators: UP and CNW; UP and SP; UP and MILW
Route Termini: Chicago, Illinois / * Los Angeles, California; Oakland, California; Portland, Oregon
Distance traveled: 785 miles (1,263 km) (1946) (Chicago - Los Angeles, via Salt Lake City)
Service frequency: Daily
Train numbers: 21-23-25 (westbound) / 24-26-22 (eastbound)
On-board services
Seating arrangements: Reclining seat coaches (1946)
Sleeping arrangements: Open sections, double bedrooms, drawing rooms
Catering facilities: Dining car
Track gauge 4 ft 8+1⁄2 in (1,435 mm)