|Service type||Inter-city rail|
|Locale||Western United States|
|First service||June 14, 1936|
|Last service||June 10, 1972|
|Successor||San Francisco Zephyr|
San Francisco, California
|Average journey time||
|Line(s) used||Overland Route|
|Track gauge||4 ft 8+1⁄2 in (1,435 mm)|
The City of San Francisco was a streamlined through passenger train which ran from 1936 to 1971 on the Overland Route between Chicago, Illinois and Oakland, California, with a ferry connection on to San Francisco. It was owned and operated jointly by the Chicago and North Western Railway (1936–55), Chicago, Milwaukee, St. Paul and Pacific Railroad (1955–71), the Union Pacific Railroad, and the Southern Pacific Railroad. It provided premium extra fare service from Chicago to San Francisco when introduced in 1936 with a running time of 39 hours and 45 minutes each way.
As with the City of Los Angeles, many of the train's cars bore the names of locales around its namesake city, including Mission Dolores, the nickname given to San Francisco's Mission San Francisco de Asís.
Competing streamlined passenger trains were, starting in 1949, the California Zephyr on the Western Pacific (WP), Denver and Rio Grande Western (D&RGW), and Chicago, Burlington and Quincy (CB&Q) Railroads, and starting in 1954, the San Francisco Chief on the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway (AT&SF).
In October 1955 the Milwaukee Road replaced the Chicago and North Western between Chicago and Omaha; in 1960 the City of San Francisco was combined with the City of Los Angeles east of Ogden.
A consist is the group of rail vehicles (cars plus locomotives) making up a train.
The City of San Francisco (TR 101-102) made its inaugural run between Chicago and Oakland/San Francisco on June 14, 1936 as streamline through service. It operated with a dedicated Pullman-built 11-car articulated lightweight streamline consist made up of a set of two 1,200 hp (890 kW) diesel-electric power unit cars (M-10004A/B), a baggage-mail car, a baggage-dormitory-kitchen car, a diner-lounge car, four named sleeper cars, a 48-seat chair car, and a 38-seat coach-buffet-blind end observation car.
The City's original train set was replaced on January 2, 1938 with an all new 1⁄4-mile-long (400 m), semi-articulated 17-car lightweight streamline consist made up of one EMC-E2A and two EMC-E2B 1,800 hp (1,300 kW) diesel-electric power unit cars (SF 1-2-3) built by the Electro-Motive Corporation (now EMD), and 14 aluminum-alloy girder-type Pullman-built cars consisting of an auxiliary power-baggage-dormitory car, a 54-seat chair car, a 32-seat coffee shop-kitchen car, a 72-seat diner, a dormitory-buffet-lounge car, eight named sleeper cars, and an 84-foot 6-inch buffet-lounge-observation car (NOB HILL) said to be the "longest passenger car built in the United States" to that time.
While costing over $2 million to build, operating costs (fuel, crew, etc) for the train were less than two cents per passenger-mile. The extra fare on the City over the full run was $15 for open section Pullman accommodations, $5 in the chair car, and $22.50 for a roomette. After both the original and new train sets made a joint run from Oakland to Chicago on that date, the older 11-car consist was shopped for a seven-month rebuild and then used variously over the next decade as the City of Los Angeles, City of Denver, and City of Portland before being withdrawn from service in the spring of 1948 and eventually scrapped.
The new and subsequent City of San Francisco train sets were jointly owned by the C&NW, UP and SP with the exception of the sleepers which were Pullman-owned until 1945 when two of those cars were acquired by the C&NW and a dozen by the UP. The new train was capable of speeds up to 110 miles per hour (180 km/h) and accommodated 222 passengers. Sleeping car space was double that of conventional trains with 168 berths compared to 84 while chair car space was increased to 54. The new City consist had 60 compartments, drawing rooms, bedrooms, and "roomettes" instead of the regular nine for a larger variety of sleeping accommodations to choose from than on any train in America. Among the premium services provided on the train were stewardess-nurses, a barber shop, a shower bath, and an internal telephone system. All regularly assigned cars were also air-conditioned. Frequency remained at five trips per month each way.
The City of San Francisco derailed in Nevada in 1939. The incident was ruled an act of sabotage, but, despite years of investigation, remains unsolved.
A blizzard in the Sierra Nevada trapped the train for six days in January 1952, on Track #1 at Yuba Pass (), 17 miles (27 km) west of Donner Pass. Snow drifts from 100-mile-per-hour (160 km/h) winds blocked the train, burying it in 12 feet (3.7 meters) of snow and stranding it from January 13 to 19. The event made international headlines.
During the effort to reach the train, the railroad's snow-clearing equipment and snow-blowing rotary plows became frozen to the tracks near Emigrant Gap. Hundreds of workers and volunteers, including escaped German POW Georg Gärtner, rescued stranded passengers by clearing nearby Route 40 to reach the train.
The 196 passengers and 30 crewmembers were evacuated within 72 hours of rescuers reaching the train. Upon evacuation, they traveled on foot to vehicles that carried them the few highway miles to Nyack Lodge. The train itself was extricated three days later on January 19.
The City of San Francisco name has been applied to a 10/6 sleeping car built by Pullman Standard in the early 1950s. The car is now owned by the Boone and Scenic Valley Railroad and operates on the line's dinner and first class trains. Union Pacific itself has a dome lounge car used on excursion and executive trains which carries the City of San Francisco name.