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Southern Pacific Railroad train symbol PNL at Palmdale, CA

Southern Pacific Railroad train symbol PNL at Palmdale, CA photo of Southern Pacific Railroad train symbol PNL at Palmdale, CA

On February 4, 1974 I was hoping to catch a train on the Palmdale Colton Cutoff, but this was the only train to go by in about three hours of waiting up on top of the hill. Palmdale is at the southern end of Antelope Valley at an elevation of 2,660 feet. This is where the Cut-off splits off the original mainline to Los Angeles and goes over Cajon Pass to Colton. Extra 8485 East is headed to Los Angeles on the original mainline. The road next to the tracks is Sierra Highway, the old US 6. The small blue building next to the tracks is the new Palmdale station. The agents at Lancaster were moved to the old station at Palmdale right after the Cut-off opened. About two years later, the railroad replaced the old station with the little blue metal building. The agents at Palmdale had a small interlocking plant that controlled the junction switch and one switch at Denis siding and the new Palmdale number two siding. For several years, train crews were changed at Palmdale at either of these two sidings. The SP was cheap and spent as little money as possible on the Cut-off.

Just north of Palmdale, Sierra Highway crossed from the east to the west side of the tracks. The big building in the background on the right is Plant 42 where the space shuttles were assembled. Just west of this building is the siding at Denis. Ten miles north of my vantage point is the town of Lancaster. At the far end of the valley is Rosamond, 20 miles away. You can see the Tehachapi Mountains in the background 50 miles away.

SP Extra 8417 East going into the siding at Palmdale Number 2 to meet Extra 8776 West

The first siding just out of Palmdale on the Cut-off is Palmdale Number 2. Extra 8417 East is going into the siding to meet Extra 8776 West on May 19, 1973. The eastbound train has engines 8417, 8461, and 8476. Disk 48

Palmenthal came to be in 1886, when 50 to 60 families of Swiss and German descent, from Nebraska and Illinois, were moving westward to California. They had been told that when they saw palm trees, they would be very close to the Pacific Ocean. As they came to the Antelope Valley and saw the Joshua trees, they mistook them for palm trees. The families settled here and called their new town Palmenthal.