reporting mark SP), earlier Southern Pacific Railroad (1865-1885) and Southern Pacific Company (1885-1969), and usually simply called the Southern Pacific, was an American railroad.
The railroad was founded as a land holding company in 1865, later acquiring the Central Pacific Railroad by lease. By 1900, the Southern Pacific Company had grown into a major railroad system which incorporated many smaller companies, such as the Texas and New Orleans Railroad and Morgan's Louisiana and Texas Railroad, and which extended from New Orleans through Texas to El Paso, across New Mexico and through Tucson, to Los Angeles, throughout most of California including San Francisco and Sacramento; it also included the Central Pacific Railroad extending eastward across Nevada to Ogden, Utah and had lines reaching north throughout and across Oregon to Portland.
The Southern Pacific had noticeable social impact along its route: some towns prospered because of it and it founded a number of important hospitals in, among other places, San Francisco and Tucson. Southern Pacific's total route mileage has varied significantly over the years. In 1929, the system showed 13,848 miles (22,286 km) (on its own); before the D&RGW merger Southern Pacific's mileage had dropped to 10,423 miles (16,774 km), mainly due to the pruning of branches. But by combining the mileage of subsidiary, St. Louis Southwestern Railway (Cotton Belt), SP system mileage totalled around 13,508 miles (21,739 km). This was due to the fact that the Cotton Belt had almost doubled in size to 3,085 miles (4,965 km) with the purchase of the Golden State Route.
The takeover of Southern Pacific by Rio Grande Industries, along with the addition of the SPCSL Corporation route from Chicago to St. Louis, swelled the combined D&RGW/SP/SSW system to 15,959 miles (25,684 km). By the time of the merger with the Union Pacific Railroad, SP's mileage had once again dropped, with the entire SP system comprising 13,715 miles (22,072 km). While the Cotton Belt is the most famous of Southern Pacific's subsidiaries, SP owned many others like the Northwestern Pacific Railroad at 328 miles (528 km), the 1,331 miles (2,142 km) Southern Pacific Railroad of Mexico, and a variety of narrow gauge routes.
On August 9, 1988, the Interstate Commerce Commission approved the purchase of the Southern Pacific by Rio Grande Industries, the company that controlled the Denver and Rio Grande Western Railroad. The Rio Grande officially took control of the Southern Pacific on October 13, 1988. After the purchase, the combined railroad kept the Southern Pacific name due to its brand recognition in the railroad industry and with customers of both constituent railroads. The Southern Pacific subsequently was taken over by the Union Pacific Railroad in 1996 following years of financial problems. The railroad is also noteworthy for being the defendant in the landmark 1886 United States Supreme Court case Santa Clara County v. Southern Pacific Railroad which is often interpreted as having established certain corporate rights under the Constitution of the United States.
Courtesy of wikipedia