Railroading and the Cajon Pass have been synonymous since Fred T. Perris, Chief Engineer of the California Southern Railroad (CSRR), surveyed the first route through the pass in 1883. The first line, between San Bernardino and Barstow, was completed on November 9, 1885. It has fascinated railfans ever since.
By 1902, the track was owned by the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway Company (ATSF) and the Union Pacific Railroad Company (UP) obtained trackage rights in 1905. The Southern Pacific Railroad Company (SP) built its own track, known as the Palmdale-Colton Cutoff, through the pass in 1966-1967.
The 1885 track had a ruling grade of 3%. By 1913, a second track, with a ruling grade of 2.2%, had been constructed North of the first track from San Bernardino to Summit. The first track was then named the South Track and the new one, the North Track. These designations lasted until after the ATSF/BN merger, when they were renamed Main No. 1 (old North) and Main No. 2 (old South) in keeping with standard railroad nomenclature.
The Santa Fe and the Burlington Northern merged in 1995 to form the Burlington Northern and Santa Fe Railway Company (BNSF) and the Southern Pacfic merged with Union Pacfic in 1996, leaving the Union Pacific.
From July, 2007, through November, 2008, the BNSF constructed a third main track (3MT) from Keenbrook to Summit. My collection contains a number of photos of this construction, but Werner Meer has developed the definitive site of 3MT photography. Visit it at www.trainmaster.ch/cajon.htm.
I became interested in Cajon Pass in 1983 when I was invited to accompany my friend, and noted railroad photographer, Robert L. Kern, on a shooting session. I've been going back, when time permits, ever since.
Alta Loma, California
Last Revised January 23, 2016