The Golden Gate

This 1939 brochure introduces the Golden Gate, Santa Fe’s twin streamliners between Bakersfield and Oakland. When combined with a Santa Fe Trailways bus from Los Angeles to Bakersfield and a ferry from Oakland to San Francisco, passengers could go from L.A. to Frisco in just 9-3/4 hours, exactly the same as Southern Pacific’s Coast Daylight and about three hours less than SP’s later San Joaquin Daylight.

Click image to download a 3.3-MB PDF of this three-panel brochure. Click here to download an OCRed version.

The brochure claims that the Golden Gates, which began service on July 1, 1938, are the “14th and 15th in Santa Fe’s great fleet of streamliners.” In fact, they are the eighth and ninth:

  • First was the May 18, 1936 Super Chief;
  • Second and third, two El Capitans were introduced on February 22, 1938;
  • Fourth, a second Super Chief was introduced on February 26, 1938;
  • Fifth, a single San Diegan train set was introduced on March 27, 1938;
  • Sixth and seventh, the Chicagoan and Kansas Citian were introduced on April 17, 1938.

On the same day the El Capitans began service, two streamlined sleepers were added to each train set of the otherwise heavyweight Chief. Since this train required five train sets to cover Chicago to Los Angeles, Santa Fe marketing people may have counted them as the tenth through thirteenth streamlined trains (though that doesn’t make sense either as that’s only four trains). But the Chief‘s weren’t really streamlined.

The Golden Gates were hauled by Santa Fe’s elegant E1 locomotives, and it is somewhat surprising that this photo was used on the interior of the brochure instead of on the cover. For some reason, the cover photo of the conductor was deemed interesting enough to repeat it here.

The Golden Gates probably would have entered service several months earlier in 1938, but they were held up by legal challenges, probably brought by Southern Pacific which hated competition. The introduction of the Golden Gates is probably what led the SP to start the San Joaquin Daylight three years later. The two trains served many of the same intermediate cities, including Bakersfield, Fresno, Madera, Modesto, Stockton, Pittsburg, and Richmond.

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