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Notes on the Geography of The Western United States: The Central Pacific Railroad: Photo 9

world pictures The Western United States: The Central Pacific Railroad

Although the SP kept the CP's locomotive shop at Sacramento, in 1908 it moved the freight yard 18 miles east to Roseville. The location is a few miles short of Rocklin, where the track hits granite, leaves the flat alluvium of the Sacramento Valley, and begins the long 7,000-foot climb to Donner Pass.

The Roseville yard--the U.P. now calls it the J.R. Davis Yard--is much too big to photograph from the ground. It covers about 700 acres spread over 6 track miles, and it contains a 55-track classification yard, along with 8-track receiving and departure yards. It's U.P.'s biggest freight yard on the West Coast, and it sorts ("blocks" in railroad lingo) 2,000 cars a day, so that when they arrive at smaller yards like Oakland or Fresno they don't have be sorted again for their final destinations. Notwithstanding a U.P investment of $140 million in the yard, the system was badly clogged when this picture was taken in October, 2005: the enlarged (not to say engorged) U.P. was no longer a smoothly functioning machine. Acute labor shortages, in particular, meant that whole trains were stuck on sidings.

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