Facebook Page
Santa Fe’s Valley Flyer, 1939-1940

Santa Fe’s Valley Flyer, 1939-1940


Fred Klein, 2010, 2016

Santa Fe instituted the short-lived Valley Flyer in 1939 in California’s central valley between Oakland and Bakersfield. It carried passengers to the 1939-40 Golden Gate Exposition on Treasure Island in San Francisco Bay. The train made one round trip from Bakersfield and back every day. The locomotive was a semi-streamlined 4-6-2 Pacific with a unique silver paint scheme, and the heavyweight cars were painted aluminum. Starting October 27, 1941, the trainset carried troops along Santa Fe’s surf line as a section of the San Diegan between Los Angeles and San Diego. In 1942, the train was discontinued and the cars were repainted to their original coach green. It was a beautiful early attempt at streamlining, but was so short-lived, and served such a rural area, that few photographs survive. More information, links and references can be found at



The Valley Flyer at Fresno California.


The train occasionally operated to San Diego as the San Diegan, as here at Linda Vista, California. Photo from E. D. Worley, Iron Horses of the Santa Fe Trail, Southwest Railroad Historical Society, 1965, page 269.



Fortunately, it is possible to make a convincing version of the Valley Flyer in N scale. A nearly prototypical version of the semi-streamlined Pacific with accurate factory paint was made by Model Power a few years ago with a re-release scheduled for 2010. The prototype for the model is of a Minneapolis and St. Louis Pacific, but Santa Fe’s is very similar. The passenger cars are custom painted Rivarossi heavyweight cars. The three coaches and the diner are unmodified and are identical or similar to Santa Fe prototypes. The baggage-buffet-lounge is a Rivarossi combine to which I have cut out windows to simulate the Valley Flyer car. The lounge following the diner is a kitbash of two Rivarossi car segments to make a complex window pattern. I did the modeling and Ernie Giese did the decorating. Ernie modified the Microscale HO Valley Flyer decals because they are not available in N. Here is the consist of prototype and model:


Prototype and model


4-6-2 semi-streamlined

ATSF 1369


ATSF 1302


ATSF 3002


ATSF 1467


ATSF 1367


ATSF 3005


ATSF 3006




Locomotive, baggage-buffet-lounge, and coach



The Valley Flyer semi-streamlined Pacific locomotive, baggage-beffet-lounge, and a coach. The locomotive is a factory painted Model Power model, and the cars are customized and custom painted Rivarossi models.


Diner, lounge and two coaches







Model railroader, June 1991.

Worley, E.D., Iron Horses of the Santa Fe Trail, Southwest Railroad Historical Society, 1965, pages 268-269.