In 1937 the Southern Pacific trumpeted a new train in full-page magazine ads describing their Daylight route that linked Los Angeles and San Francisco "in a glorious daylight trip, streaking along the Pacific Ocean for more than a hundred breathless miles." Travelers were invited to "Step inside the Daylight and see the beauty and luxury that have already won the West. Presenting a glorious streak of orange and red from locomotive to observation car, the Daylights were a sharp departure from the SP's normal dark olive passenger cars.
Leading the trains were the Southern Pacific's class GS Northerns, arguably among the handsomest steam engines ever built. Constructed by Lima Locomotive Works, inventor of the super-power concept, the 4-8-4s had the combination of power and speed that characterized steam power at its zenith. Class GS-4 engines, delivered in 1941 and 1942, were among the last and best-looking of the breed, with tall 80" drivers and enclosed all-weather cabs. In addition to handling premier passenger trains, the 4-8-4s were regularly used in high-speed freight service on the San Francisco-Los Angeles Overnight.
In 1975-76, a proud exhibition of American historical and cultural artifacts toured the country. What made this Bicentennial celebration so special was where it was housed: in the 23-car-long American Freedom Train. The Freedom Train criss-crossed the U.S. with its patriotic cargo, letting Americans celebrate our heritage at every stop.
Southern Pacific's repainted No. 4449 GS-4 Steam Engine, in the very livery sported on these pages saw more time at the head of the Freedom Train than any other engine.