San Diego's original railroad outlet to the East was via the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe; during the "railroad wars" of the 1880s a locally chartered company, the California Southern, constructed a line from San Diego north through Temecula Canyon to San Bernardino, where it was met by Santa Fe crews constructing a line over Cajon Pass west from Barstow. The first through train to the East would depart San Diego on November 16, 1885.

However, the line through Temecula proved untenable. The canyon was subject to severe flash floods; indeed, even before the link to the Santa Fe had been completed the California Southern had been shut down for a nine month period due to flood damage. After the Santa Fe had secured entrance to Los Angeles by their purchase of the Los Angeles & San Gabriel Valley railroad in early 1887, a branch was constructed southward from Los Angeles along the coast to San Diego and the line through Temecula was abandoned.

But San Diego backers did not easily give up on their hopes of a direct outlet to the East. If building to the north through Temecula had proved impractical, what about the south? And so the San Diego & Arizona Railway was born. Some engineers of its day referred to it as "The Impossible Railroad" due to the logistic challenges involved. But the road was built south through Mexico and eastward to a connection with the Southern Pacific at Calexico; following financial troubles in the Great Depression it was reorganized as the San Diego & Arizona Eastern under control of the Southern Pacific.

From the pages of the Official Guide, August 1950

Chicago, Rock Island & Pacific RR heraldSouthern Pacific Lines herald

The Imperial

Chicago, Rock Island & Pacific
Southern Pacific Lines
San Diego & Arizona Eastern Ry.
August 20, 1950

39 Train Number 40
Daily Miles (Chicago, Rock Island & Pacific) Services Daily
8 30P Dp 0.0 Chicago, IL (La Salle St. Station) (CT) C R Ar 3 00P
8 42P 6.6 Englewood, IL C 2 45P
F 40.4 Joliet, IL C F
F 84.5 Ottawa, IL F
F 99.1 La Salle, IL F
10 42P 114.2 Bureau, IL (Peoria via bus) C F
11 48P 179.3 Moline, IL C R 11 27A
11 59P Ar181.2 Rock Island, IL C R Dp 11 20A
12 10A Dp Ar 11 10A
12 18A 182.8 Davenport, IA C R 10 53A
F 210 Muscatine, IA C F
F 231 Columbus Junction, IA C
F 248 South Washington, IA C F
F 271 Fairfield, IA C F
F 287 Eldon, IA C F
3 20A 326 Centerville, IA C F
4 50A 402 Trenton, MO C 6 10A
F 467 Excelsior Springs, MO C F
7 20A Ar 495 Kansas City, MO C Dp 4 00A
15 Connecting Train Number (Rock Island) 508
7 30P Dp0 Minneapolis, MN Ar 6 30P
8 15P 11 St. Paul, MN 6 00P
2 25A 270 Des Moines, IA 1 10P
7 30A Ar489 Kansas City, MO Dp 9 10A
Connecting Train Number (Missouri Pacific)
11 50P Dp 0.0 St. Louis, MO (CT) Ar 12 01P
7 20A Ar 279.2 Kansas City, MO Dp 7 01A
8 00A Dp 495 Kansas City, MO C Ar 3 30A
8 45A 534 Lawrence, KS 2 25A
9 15A 563 Topeka, KS C 1 50A
9 58A 595 McFarland, KS C
11 15A Ar 645 Herington, KS C Dp 12 05A
11 20A Dp Ar 11 55P
F 690 McPherson, KS C F
12 45P 718 Hutchinson, KS C 10 23P
2 00P 771 Pratt, KS C 9 25P
4 15P Ar 904 Liberal, KS C Dp 7 00P
4 21P Dp Ar 6 55P
F 943 Guymon, OK C 6 11P
6 30P Ar 1015 Dalhart, TX CDp 4 50P
6 40P Dp Ar 4 45P
8 26P Ar 1108 Tucumcari, NM (CT) C Dp 3 00P
(Southern Pacific)
7 41P Dp 1108 Tucumcari, NM (MT) C Ar 1 25P
F 1167 Santa Rosa, NM C F
11 30P Ar 1296 Carrizozo, NM C Dp 9 30A
11 37P Dp Ar 9 22A
F12 39A 1353 Alamogordo, NM C F 8 15A
F 1 17A 1390 Orogrande, NM C F
2 15A Ar 1440 El Paso, TX (Union Station) C Dp 6 30A
2 35A Dp Ar 6 00A
6 40A Ar 1657 Douglas, AZ C RDp 1 55A
6 50A Dp Ar 1 45A
F 7 22A 1679 Bisbee Junction, AZ (Bisbee via bus) C F 1 15A
9 15A Ar 1780 Tucson, AZ C R Dp 10 55P
9 35A Dp Ar 10 40P
10 39A 1845 Coolidge, AZ F
11 15A 1877 Chandler, AZ C F 8 50P
11 28A 1885 Mesa, AZ C F
11 55A Ar 1901 Phoenix, AZ C R Dp 8 15P
12 15P Dp Ar 8 00P
12 52P 1931 Buckeye, AZ F
3 35P Ar 2074 Yuma, AZ (MT) C Dp 4 35P
2 55P Dp Yuma, AZ (PT) Ar 3 20P
3 13P 2083 Cantu, CA
3 15P 2084 Algodones, B. Cfa. 2 55P
4 45P 2134 Mexicali, B. Cfa. 1 24P
4 50PAr 2135 Calexico, CA CDp 1 17P
San Diego Section
363 Continuing Train Number (San Diego & Arizona Eastern) 362
5 45PDp 2135 Calexico, CA CAr 12 35P
6 00PAr 2144 El Centro, CA CDp 12 22P
6 05PDp Ar 12 20P
F 6 18P 2152 Seeley, CA F12 05P
F 6 44P 2169 Coyote Wells, CA F11 39A
8 11P 2200 Jacumba, CA 10 22A
9 16P 2226 Campo, CA 9 26A
9 43P 2239 Tecate, B. Cfa. 8 58A
10 51P 2276 Tijuana, B. Cfa. 7 40A
10 56P 2276 San Ysidro, CA 7 35A
11 30PAr 2292 San Diego, CA (PT) C RDp 7 05A
39 Los Angeles Section (Southern Pacific) 40
4 52PDp 2135Calexico, CACAr 12 50P
5 37P 2144 El Centro, CA C 12 35P
5 56P 2158 Brawley, CA C 12 15P
2176 Niland, CA Dp 11 50A
Ar 11 47A
7 26P 2232 Indio, CA 10 49A
F 2260 Palm Springs, CA C R F
F 2281 Beaumont, CA F
9 30P 2304 Colton, CA C 8 58A
10 02P 2329 Pomona, CA C R F 8 23A
10 35P 2355 Alhambra, CA (Pasadena) C R 7 49A
10 55P Ar 2361Los Angeles, CA (Union Psgr. Tml.) (PT) C R Dp 7 30A

Train 39: 40 stops, 52:25, 45.0 MPHTrain 39-363: 42 stops, 53:00, 43.2 MPH

Train 40: 34 stops, 53:30, 44.1 MPHTrain 362-40: 37 stops, 53:55, 42.5 MPH

Note: There is a 16 mile discrepancy in the mileage between Chicago and Tucumcari in the SP and Rock Island timetables. Mileage shown is Rock Island mileage from Chicago to Tucumcari and Southern Pacific mileage from Tucumcari west.

(Rock Island Notes)


No. 39—THE IMPERIAL. Daily.

Club Lounge Car(For sleeping car passengers only). Chicago to Los Angeles.

Club Car—(For coach passengers). Chicago to Los Angeles.

Sleeping Cars—

Chicago to Los Angeles—10-Section, 1 Drawing-room, 1 Compartment (398).

Chicago to San Diego—10-Section, 1 Drawing-room, 2 Compartment (395).

Chicago to Kansas City—10-Section, 2 Double Bedrooms, 1 Compartment (392).

Kansas City to Los Angeles—10-Section, 1 Drawing-Room, 2 Compartments (391).

Tourist Car—Chicago to Los Angeles (3902-3903).

Dining Car—Serving all meals.

Chair Cars—(Reclining Seats NOT reserved). (Pillows available.)

Chicago to Los Angeles.

Chicago to San Diego.

Chicago to Kansas City.

All Cars Air-Conditioned.


No. 40—THE IMPERIAL - Daily.

Club Lounge Car—(For Sleeping Car passengers only). Los Angeles to Chicago.

Club Car—(For Coach passengers). Los Angeles to Chicago.

Sleeping Cars—

Los Angeles to Chicago—10-Section, 1 Drawing-room, 1 Compartment (404).

San Diego to Chicago—10-Section, 1 Drawing-room, 2 Compartments (400).

Los Angeles to Kansas City—10-Section, 1 Drawing-Room, 2 Compartment (401). (May be occupied until 8:00 a.m.)

Tourist Car—Los Angeles to Chicago (408-409).

Dining Car—Serving all meals.

Chair Cars (Reclining Seats NOT reserved)—(Pillows available).

Los Angeles to Chicago.

San Diego to Chicago.

All Cars Air-Conditioned.

PILLOWS for coach passengers are available on the GOLDEN STATE and IMPERIAL, also on the ROCKY MOUNTAIN ROCKET, CHOCTAW ROCKET and TWIN STAR ROCKET (between Kansas City and Dallas.)
A charge of 25c. will be made for this service for each 12 hours or fraction thereof.

(Southern Pacific Notes)

Train 39—IMPERIAL. Via R. I. and S. P.

Full Lounge Car—Chicago to Los Angeles. (For Pullman passengers).

Standard Sleepers—

Chicago to Los Angeles (Sections, Drawing-room, Compartment).

Kansas City to Los Angeles (Sections, Compartments, Drawing-room).

Chicago to San Diego (Sections, Drawing-room, Compartments). (Via S. D. & A. E. from Calexico.)

Tourist Car—Chicago to Los Angeles.

Diner—Chicago to Los Angeles.

Lounge Car—Chicago to Los Angeles. (For Coach passengers.)

Chair Cars—Chicago to Los Angeles.

Chicago to San Diego. (Via S. D. & A. E. from Calexico.)

El Paso to Los Angeles.

Tickets Honored—Ask agents.

Regularly assigned cars are air-conditioned.

Train 40—IMPERIAL. Via S. P. and R. I.

Full Lounge Car—Los Angeles to Chicago. (For Pullman passengers).

Standard Sleepers—

Los Angeles to Chicago (Sections, Compartment and Drawing-room).

Los Angeles to Kansas City (Sections, Compartments and Drawing-room). (Occupancy until 8:00 a.m.)

San Diego to Chicago (Sections, Drawing-room, Compartments). (Via S. D. & A. E. to Calexico.)

Tourist Car—Los Angeles to Chicago.

Diner—Los Angeles to Chicago.

Lounge Car—Los Angeles to Chicago. (For Coach passengers.)

Chair Cars—Los Angeles to Chicago.

San Diego to Chicago. (Via S. D. & A. E. to Calexico.)

Los Angeles to El Paso.

Tickets Honored—Ask agents.

Regularly assigned cars are air-conditioned.

(San Diego & Arizona Eastern Notes)

Regularly Assigned Cars are Air-Conditioned.

No. 362-40—Imperial—Through Chair Cars and Standard Sleeper operated San Diego to Phoenix, El Paso, Kansas City and Chicago. Dining Car—Yuma to Chicago. Cafe Lounge Car—San Diego to Yuma.

No. 39-363—Imperial—Through Chair Cars and Standard Sleeper operated Chicago, Kansas City, El Paso and Phoenix to San Diego. Dining Car—Chicago to Yuma. Cafe Lounge Car—Yuma to San Diego.

Coach Passengers—Through air-conditioned Chair Cars operated between San Diego and Chicago in connection with Southern Pacific Trains 39 and 40.

This is the last timetable in my collection showing service to the East from San Diego. On January 12, 1951, through passenger service over the San Diego and Arizona Eastern was discontinued (although a mixed train continued to operate once a day between Tijuana and Tecate). The line would suffer through natural disasters and vandalism in the ensuing years, and at least twice petitions were made to abandon it. But as of 2004 repairs had been made and the line reopened and now San Diego once again has a [freight only] rail outlet to the East.

View the notice of discontinuance from March, 1951 (PDF, 511K).