Southern Pacific 1273

Southern Pacific Lines

Steam-Powered Locomotive

Built by:

Southern Pacific Sacramento Shops – 1921

Wheel Arrangement:

0-6-0 “Switcher”


76 Tons

Donated by:

Southern Pacific Company – 1957


S.P. 1273 at work switching cars around the busy Oakland Pier passenger terminal in March 1953. Photo provided by Stan Kistler.

Southern Pacific No. 1273 was one of 38 switch engines built by the railroad’s own shop forces in 1921.  While most steam locomotives in the U.S.A. were manufactured by specialized locomotive building companies, a few major railroads developed repair shops and foundries so complete and capable that they were able to design and build their own locomotives.   This particular locomotive was built by the Southern Pacific Company by workers in its own Sacramento Shops.   Locomotives like the 1273 were used primarily as a “switch engines” in the yards and terminals, moving cars and trains from one track to another.   Although this engine probably saw little or no ‘mainline’ train service, she  nevertheless logged over 1,500,000 miles during her 35 years of switching service.

Workers at the Southern Pacific's locomotive shops in Los Angeles posed for a photo with the engine in 1957, freshly painted for her donation to Travel Town!

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More Interesting Information:

Southern Pacific’s “Oakland Pier” or “Mole” was a large complex on the eastern bank of the San Francisco Bay that served as the transfer point for passengers from East Bay trains and streetcars to ferry boats headed across the Bay to San Francisco proper.  The Pier was a busy place, handling dozens of commuter and long-distance passenger trains each day combined with multiple ferry boat arrivals and departures.  In the photo below, you can see the ferry slip, depot train sheds, and adjoining rail yards – once home to our S.P. No. 1273.

Overview of the extensive "Oakland Pier" facility in 1922. Photo courtesy Oakland Public Library, Oakland History Room.