Skip Repetitive Navigational Links

Southern Pacific Business Car #141 "Oakland"

Jay Jacobs 

Southern Pacific # 141 was built by the Pullman Company in 1927 and delivered to the railroad on January 20, 1928 as the “New York.” The car joined a distinguished fleet of business cars constructed by Pullman during the 1920’s and was assigned to A. D. MacDonald, Chief Financial Officer of Southern Pacific, with offices in New York. The car was renamed “Oakland” in November of 1928, and apparently was quickly sent to its namesake city. In 1932, A. D. MacDonald became president of the Southern Pacific ( a post he held until 1941) and S.P. 141 was assigned to him. Although the car wandered the nation as a president’s car, it was based in the Oakland business car yard for its entire working life.

Built at a cost of $ 81,056.43 (over $923,000. in today’s dollars), Oakland is a classic example of the craftsmanship of the Pullman Company and contains all of the elegant features associated with railroad business cars of that era. These features include: walnut paneling, brass lamps and fixtures, wool carpeting, leaded glass cabinet fronts, brass railings on the open rear platform among other elegant touches.

In 1997, following the merger of Southern Pacific and Union Pacific, Oakland was declared surplus to the needs of the railroad and was placed for sale at auction. Oakland was purchased by John J. Gray, a former Board Member of the Golden Gate Railroad Museum. In 2002, Mr. Gray donated the car to the Museum.

The interior of the car consists of an observation room, 4 single bedrooms including a secretary’s room, shower room, dining room seating 8, fully equipped kitchen and crew quarters for 2. A heating plant and refrigerator/freezer occupy the former vestibule area.

At the present time Oakland is undergoing restoration and repair of items that were allowed to deteriorate in its final years with the railroad. Most of those repairs are now complete and the car is available for charters and special events on the Niles Canyon Railway. When operated on SP 2472 Steam Specials, Oakland provides Executive Class service consisting of fine food and wine offerings. Options include full luncheon service for a group of six or a charter of the entire car for groups up to twelve persons.