I was watching PBS the other evening. There was a program about the Southern Pacific Railroad's Coast Daylight. This video really doesn't do it justice, nor are these scenes from the original route.
When I was much younger and living in San Francisco My grandparents went to dinner every Friday night. Usually my mother and I joined them. After dinner we would take a drive which invariably ended near Third and Townsend Streets where the Southern Pacific tracks turned south after leaving the old S.F. Depot. It was also near the roundhouse so we could watch engines shuttle back and forth. In any event we would sit in the car alongside the tracks watching the trains until the Lark departed for Los Angeles. In it's heyday SP ran four trains, the Daylight, Noon Daylight, Starlight and the Lark daily on the coast route.
My biggest thrill was when I was about four years old. We followed the usual Friday routine until we reached the railroad. Instead of stopping to watch trains, we proceeded to the depot where my mother and I actually boarded the train and went to L.A. for a visit with family.
I took the same ride again, this time on the Starlight, courtesy of Uncle Sam. 14 of us were sworn into the Navy on a Friday morning at the Federal Building in San Francisco, then turned loose in the city for a few hours and told to meet at the SP Depot for transportation to Recruit Training in San Diego.