- The Southern Pacific’s Streamliner Coast Daylight was the West’s finest train in the 1940s, 50s, and early 1960s.
- Linking Los Angeles and San Francisco via San Jose on a glorious daylight trip, streaking along the edge of the Pacific Ocean for more than a hundred breathless miles.
- During the early 1960s, attending school in San Francisco, I took the train a half dozen times from Glendale and Santa Barbara, seated in the Observation Parlor car and it was a terrific experience!
- The streamliner traveled along the coast via San Jose, Salinas (for Carmel and Monterey), San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara, and Glendale.
- With connections to San Diego on the Santa Fe’s San Diegans.
- Chair car passengers had full access to the Coffee Shop, Diner, and Tavern cars.
- The two Parlor cars were restricted to first-class passengers.
- There was a private drawing room available.
- All seats on the train, including chair cars and parlor cars, were reserved.
- When reserving a ticket, you had to make sure to tell them if the party traveling was male or female and if you wanted an ocean or landside seat.
- The Daylight had its inaugural run on March 1, 1937, and was hauled by GS-2 steam locomotives.
- It was the first of the Daylight series that also included the San Joaquin Daylight, Shasta Daylight, Sacramento Daylight, and Sunbeam.
Passengers board the COAST DAYLIGHT in Glendale, California for the trip north to San Francisco on a rainy morning.
Chair car seating on the Coast Daylight. Seats were movable for viewing the California scenery.
Tavern and Lounge Car on the Coast Daylight.
- The Coast Daylight ran behind steam from March 1937 until it was dieselized on January 7, 1955.
- After dieselization, the train continued to run until May 1, 1971, when Amtrak took over service and rerouted their Coast Daylight to Oakland.
Passenger’s photos of travel on the COAST DAYLIGHT. Observation Parlor Car and Coffee Shop Car.
- A second train known as the Noon Daylight ran on the same route between 1940 and 1949, with a suspension during World War II. The original Coast Daylight was informally known as the Morning Daylight during this time.
Coast Daylight is announced in the 1930s…
In 1949, the Noon Daylight was replaced by an overnight train known as the Starlight using the same equipment. In 1956, coaches from the Starlight were added to the all-Pullman Lark and the Starlight was discontinued in 1957. Amtrak later revived the train name for its Los Angeles to Seattle service known as the Coast Starlight.
Chasing the Daylight by William Phillips – I’ll Hold You in My Dreams – SP GS-4 locomotive 4443 by Americana artist William Phillips
On August 26, 1999: The United States Postal Service issued 33-cent All Aboard! 20th Century American Trains commemorative stamps featuring five celebrated American passenger trains from the 1930s and 1940s. One of the five stamps featured an image of a GS-4 steam locomotive pulling the red-and-orange train along the California Pacific Coast.
Southern Pacific’s DAYLIGHT – The “Most Beautiful Train in the World”!
THE COAST DAYLIGHT – THE MOST BEAUTIFUL TRAIN IN THE WORLD – Southern Pacific’s famous streamliner between Los Angeles and San Francisco.
A chair car porter loads baggage aboard the Daylight in new elevated storage areas – a major innovation for passenger travel in the 1930s.
The Streamliner Daylight ready to depart from Los Angles Union Station during the 1940s.
Dining Car Steward, Bar Waiter, and Waiters in COAST DAYLIGHT Coffee Shop Car.
A dome car was added in the late 1950s.
- Into the 1960s, nearly all Pullman porters, waiters, cooks, chefs, and chair car porters were African-Americans.
- For more information see more at African American history on trains.