Basics of Cajon Pass

by Guido Cherici

Cajon Site Navigator
Cajon Pass is located in southern California, USA, about 75 miles from Los Angeles. The rails from San Bernardino climb the San Gabriel Mountains up to a 3,800 feet elevation then descend to Victorville towards the Mojave Desert. 1929 map

A bit of history ...

The railroad history of the Pass begins in 1885, when Santa Fe Railway built the first line, at that time with a 3% grade and single track. Today it is called the 'South Track' . In 1905 the traffic grew, as a result of the passage rights obtained by the Los Angeles, San Pedro & Salt Lake Railway, and this compelled Santa Fe to double-track the line. So in 1913 was built the 'North Track' , with two short tunnels in Alray and a longer and less steep 2.2% grade between Cajon and Summit.

In 1967 Southern Pacific, to connect Palmdale with the Los Angeles basin and his yard in Colton built the single track Palmdle cut-off, which from San Bernardino to Summit follow Santa Fe's North track on a slight elevation.

Today four companies use the Pass : Burlington Northern Santa Fe, Union Pacific, Southern Pacific and Amtrak. While SP uses its own line, the other three share Santa Fe tracks : usually eastbound trains use the North track and westbound trains use the South track. Amtrak trains use the South track.

Useful Information :
Railfanning Guide
Weather on the Pass
BNSF Timetables

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Site built and mantained by Guido Cherici