Southern Pacific’s longest-running named train, the Del Monte Limited operated a daily round-trip service between San Francisco, via San Jose, and Monterey.
- Throughout the 1920s and 1930s, with its first-class observation parlor car, The Del Monte served San Francisco’s grandee families.
- There were generations of Crockers, Tevises, Morses, and regulars and feudal grandees of Monterey. Stuyvesant Fish of Carmel was regular, and the two formidable brothers Lloyd and Cordon Tevis. They were descendants of the first president of Wells Fargo and, swaggering magnificoes in their own right.
- They laid down Tevis’ Law to the effect “Three House of Lords on the rocks before San Jose meant straight to bed on arrival at Pacific Grove. A Pullman sleeping car even operated briefly over the 125-mile (201 km) route beginning in 1926.
After World War II, the consist included:
- A mail-baggage car.
- Three or four coaches.
- A news-agent coach serving light snacks.
- A first-class buffet parlor car serving drinks.
- The parlor car was named Oliver Millet in 1947 when Millet retired after working 32 years as the Del Monte parlor car attendant. He was the only Southern Pacific employee recognized by a car name.
- The parlor car’s bar proved a post-war rendezvous for the Blue Book San Franciscans, new money, and regulars buying first-class tickets. Departures from San Francisco changed over the years.
- Here is mid-1950s schedule. Train number 78 left San Francisco daily at 4 PM, stopped at San Jose an hour later, and arrived in Monterey to unload mail at 7 PM. The locomotive and cars waited overnight at the Pacific Grove terminal to return as train number 77 left Monterey at 7:30 AM and reached San Francisco at 10:30 AM.
The last schedule was faster, departing from SP’s Terminal at Third & Townsend at 4:50 PM. With a very fast travel time between San Francisco and San Jose it became favorite fro businessmen. The commuter cars were cut out at San Jose and the Del Monte Limited continued with baggage car, chair cars and the Parlor-Lounge.
The southbound train continued with stops at Watsonville Junction, Castroville, with flag stops at Fort Ord, Seaside, Del Monte and then Monterey.
The Southern Pacific had a great fleet of passengers trains. The Daylight, Lark, City of San Francisco, Overland Limited, and Sunset Limited.
Yet the SP’s attempt to terminate Del Monte Limited was unsuccessful. San Franciscan movers and shakers, who used the train regularly, especially the Parlor Buffet, which was still in great demand, told the SP to go to hell! It worked.
The Del Monte ran until April 30, 1971, a day before Amtrak took over intercity passenger train service in the United States.