Car Float Accident With Santa Fe Reefers

Bob Chaparro

Car Float Accident With Santa Fe Reefers

“O hear us when we cry to Thee

For those in Peril on the sea”

Photo courtesy of Kevin Caoimhín Bunker on the Facebook Santa Fe Railway Historical & Modeling Society group.

Probably of interest to this group are the views of the undersides of the reefers (see link below).


He states:

“Some days it doesn't pay to get out of bed.  Example:  this day, in 1937, when the crew of a Red Stack Tug was ferrying a railroad car-float across San Francisco Bay from Point Richmond to San Francisco and Pier 43, the car-float loaded with Santa Fe Railway refrigerator cars bringing chilled foods into city wholesalers.  What the crew didn't know was that super gale was rapidly forming in the North Pacific and galloping inland.  Ships out at sea were getting hit hard by extremely high winds and high breaking waves.

In hardly any time at all, around mid-afternoon, the gale swept past the Golden Gate and rocked across the bay, catching the unsuspecting tug and its cargo cross-wise. With a giant heavy burst of energy, the car-float got caught in a sharp swell and with the powerful gusts of wind three of the "reefers" derailed, one nearly rolling over sideways, it stopped from going completely on its side by its nearest neighbor reefer, which also tried to flip over.  Then the winds subsided as they rushed further inland.  The tug crew inhaled and considered their options, which were basically this: go dead slow ahead and make port and, with luck, they'd make it without further damage.

On arrival, San Francisco port authorities met the tug crew, as did the railroad's freight claim agents and together they tried to figure out what to do next.  Right behind them came a San Francisco Examiner news photographer, anxious to get some sensational record shots as a scoop for that evening's street edition.  He got several great shots, but this was probably the best of the lot.

The sudden storm was a whopper and hit much of the state that afternoon and well into evening as it worked east and south.

U.C., Berkeley - Bancroft Library, San Francisco Examiner Collection via Calisphere.”

For other photos of this accident, go to this link:

The click on “View source image on contributor's website.”

Each of the five photos and the description card can be enlarged.

Bob Chaparro


Railroad Citrus Industry Modeling Group

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