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1950 -1979 Historic Dates in San Bernardino and The Railroad:


March 02, 1950 - Norton Air Force Base


The base began as Municipal Airport San Bernardino in July 1942.  Over time the name was changed to San Bernardino Army Air Field, San Bernardino Air Field and San Bernardino Air Force Base.  On March 2, 1950, the base was renamed Norton Air force Base in honor of Captain Leland F. Norton.  

Leland Norton was born in San Bernardino on March 12, 1921, and attended local schools until he joined the Canadian Air Force in August 1941.  In May 1942, he transferred to the U.S. Army Air Corps. Captain Norton, an A-20 pilot and Deputy Commander of the 640th Bomb Squadron, was shot down over France on May 27, 1944.  

Captain Norton was posthumously awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross (DFC) for his heroic actions and is buried in San Bernardino at Mountain View Cemetery.

Click here for a photo history of Captain Norton and Norton Air Force Base.

Click here to link to the Norton Air force Base Museum.


January 29, 1952 - J. C. Rodriquez, Medal of Honor

* Joseph C. Rodriquez, born in San Bernardino on November 14, 1928, graduated from Valley College in 1950.
* Rodriquez was drafted in the fall of 1950 and was assigned as a member of Company F, 17th Infantry Regiment, 7th Infantry Division and deployed to Korea in early 1951.
* During an attack near Munye-ri, Korea, on May 21, 1951, his squad became pinned down by intense enemy fire.  PFC Rodriquez dashed 60 yards up the hill towards the enemy and tossing grenades, destroyed several gun emplacements and killed 15 enemy soldiers.  This allowed his squad to take control of a strategic location on high ground.
* On January 29, 1952, he was presented the Medal of Honor by President Truman.   

* PFC Rodriquez was the first San Bernardino resident to receive the Medal of Honor, the nation's highest military award.
* In June 1952, Rodriquez was commissioned a Second Lieutenant in the Corps of Engineers.  He retired as a Colonel after 30 years of service.
* Colonel Rodriquez died on November 1, 2005, and was buried with full military honors at Mountain View Cemetery in San Bernardino.

November 19, 1954 - Sammy Davis, Jr.

Sammy Davis, Jr. (1925-1990)On November 19, 1954, Sammy Davis Jr., was returning to Los Angeles from Las Vegas when he crashed into a car that was backing up into his lane.

The accident occurred near the intersection of Cajon Boulevard (Route 66) and Kendall Drive.  Davis and his valet were rushed to San Bernardino County Hospital and later to Community Hospital, on 4th and Arrowhead.

That evening, the well-known eye surgeon Frederick Hull operated on Sammy's eye.  Dr. Hull had to remove Davis' left eye and install a prosthetic socket in its place. Later a glass eye was installed.

Sammy was released on November 28, promising to return to do a benefit show when the new community hospital was built.  Sammy then spent the next couple of weeks at Frank Sinatra's house in Palm Springs.  

On November 15, 1958, Sammy returned to San Bernardino for his benefit show.  The 7,500 seat Swing Auditorium at the National Orange Show was sold out.  

Sammy opened the show and later Judy Garland sang several of her hit songs.  Many of Hollywood's most famous stars were in attendance for this performance.  

In the 1960s Davis was a leading member of the famous Rat Pack, consisting of Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Peter Lawford and Joey Bishop.

Sammy Davis Jr. become a superstar and when he passed away, the lights of the Las Vegas Strip were dimmed in his honor.


July 17, 1955 - Disneyland Railroad

On July 17, 1955, The Santa Fe and Disneyland Railroad began operations in Anaheim, California. On that day, the "C. K. Holiday" and the "E. P. Ripley" started transporting passengers around Disneyland Park.  

No. 1, "C. K. Holiday" (Founder of Atchison & Topeka Railroad) - Built in Disney Studios in 1955, a 5/8 scale 4-4-0 steam locomotive.

No. 2, "E. P. Ripley" (First President of AT&SF Railroad) - Built in Disney Studios in 1955, a 5/8 scale 4-4-0 steam locomotive.

Disneyland's narrow gauge railroad was called the Santa Fe and Disneyland Railroad from 1955 until 1974 (when Santa Fe withdrew its sponsorship).

Currently there are five steam locomotives, with the first four named after former Santa Fe CEOs. 

All of the engines are real operating steam locomotives.  Currently the locomotives are fueled by biodiesel, blended primarily from used cooking oil and a soy based fuel.

No. 3, "Fred Gurley" (In 1958 Gurley was the Chairman of AT&SF) - A Tank Locomotive (2-4-4T) built by Baldwin Locomotive Works in 1894.

On March 28, 1958, the No. 3, "Fred Gurley" was added to the railroad.  

Also in 1958, the Grand Canyon Diorama, painted by Delmer J. Yoakum, was added along the trains' route between Tomorrowland and Main Street.  At that time it was the longest diorama in the world, 306 feet long and 34 feet high.  "On the Trail", from Frede Grofe's Grand Canyon Suite is piped throughout the train as it enters the diorama. 

No. 4, "Ernest S. Marsh" (Santa Fe's President in 1959) - Originally built by Baldwin as a 0-4-0 Saddle-Tank in 1925. It now operates as a 2-4-0. 

On July 25, 1959, the fourth train was put into operation, pulled by the "Ernest S. Marsh".

In 1966, the Grand Canyon Diorama was expanded with a prehistoric theme (including Audio-Animatronic dinosaurs) and thus became the "Grand Canyon/Primeval World" diorama.

No. 5, "Ward Kimball" (A Disney Animator) - Built by Baldwin in 1902 for a Plantation in Louisiana. It is a 2-4-4 Locomotive.

The "Ward Kimball" went into service on June 25, 2005, as part of the park's 50th anniversary celebration. The new locomotive's headlight features a gold leaf silhouette of Jiminy Cricket, based on a drawing of the character Kimball made shortly before his death.

Ward Kimball was railroad enthusiast and an animator who worked on some of Disney's most famous movies. He was affectionally known as one of Disney's Nine Old Men.


July 27, 1957 - Arrowhead-shaped Pool

Aerial postcard view circa 1978, showing the arrowhead-shaped pool on the front lawn of the Arrowhead Springs Hotel. (Mark Landis Collection)

"On May 1, 1951, officials from the Hilton Hotels Corporation announced that the company would take a 10-year lease on the Arrowhead Springs Hotel...

"The Hilton era at Arrowhead Springs came to a close in August of 1956, when Benjamin Swig announced that his Fairmont Hotel Corporation was purchasing the hotel.  Swig was an experienced local hotel man, and his chain of establishments included the Mission Inn at Riverside, and the Fairmont Hotel at San Francisco...

"Swig began a new [$2,000,000] remodeling campaign soon after he took over, and his son Richard, and hotel manager Charles Kern were put in charge of the project.

"On July 27, 1957, a dedication ceremony was held for the most notable part of the project, a new arrowhead-shaped pool built on the hotel's front lawn.

"Clad in swim trunks, actor Hugh O'Brian from the popular TV series "Wyatt Earp" was surrounded by bathing beauties including Miss U.S.A. and contestants from the Miss Universe pageant.  The group cut the wide scarlet ribbon that stretched across the front of the pool.

"State Senator James E. Cunningham, Sr. also participated in the ribbon cutting and approximately 200 people including numerous photographers were poolside for the event.  The beautiful new 60' x 40' pool was only a few yards from the hotel, and it quickly became a favorite for the hotel guests."

-  Extracted from the book, Arrowhead Springs - California's Ideal Resort by Mark Landis.

-  For local history publications see http://landispublications.com/ 


May 14, 1958 - ATSF 3751 Moves into Viaduct Park

ATSF 3751 was moved into Viaduct Park (just west of the Santa Fe Depot) on May 14, 1958.  Attached to the front of the steam locomotive is a push car with an air compressor mounted upon it.  The compressor supplies air to the air brakes on the locomotive.

3751 was built by Baldwin Locomotive Works in May 1927 at a cost of $99,713, and was the first 4-8-4 built for Santa Fe.  

The engine was retired in August, 1953, and was donated to the City of San Bernrdino in 1958 for display in Viaduct Park.  The locomotive remained there until 1986 when she was moved to the former Kaiser Steel Mill in Fontana.  There, the restoration was completed after countless hours of work by dedicated volunteers of the San Bernardino Railroad Historical Society and at a cost of more than $700,000.

The locomotive began her second life as a steam excursion locomotive when she was charted to pull the "California Limited" from Los Angeles to Bakersfield and return in December of 1991.  Since then, the locomotive has pulled numerous excursions to destinations including Chicago, Sacramento, San Diego and the Grand Canyon.

3751 was in San Bernardino in June of 2004 for the dedication ceremonies at the completion of the restoration of the 1918 Santa Fe Depot.  The locomotive has pulled an excursion train from Los Angeles to San Bernardino and return every year from 2010 to 2014 for San Bernardino Railroad Days.

Today, 3751 is stored in Los Angeles at Redondo Junction.

Click here to learn more about 3751 and the San Bernardino Railroad Historical Society.


1960s - Viaduct Park 

The Santa Fe Roundhouse is at the top right. Viaduct Park is located at the bottom of the photo, north of 2nd Street and east of the Mt. Vernon Bridge.

* Viaduct Park, west of the Depot, is bounded by Mt. Vernon Ave., 2nd & 3rd Streets, and the Santa Fe Rail Yard.

* Before it was named Viaduct Park, the area was known as Garner's Grove, a popular picnic place.

* In the above photo, ATSF 3751, engine and tender, is on display in the middle of Viaduct Park (1958-1986) .

* To the left of the 1927 steam locomotive, is the tiny railroad depot that was once located at E Street and the tracks south of Rialto Avenue.

* In 1986, ATSF 3751 was removed from Viaduct Park and the E Street Depot was disassembled.

* In 2011, Viaduct Park was turned into the Metrolink Parking Structure, which accommodates about 350 cars.

* In the lower right of the above photo, a Flying A Service Station is situated at the intersection of 2nd and 3rd Streets.

Looking southeast towards 2nd Street, we see ATSF 3751 on display in Viaduct Park.


May 20, 1960 - Sesquicentennial of San Bernardino

 1810---May 20th---1960

In 1960 Burr Belden, famed history reporter for the Sun-Telegram newspaper, wrote an eight-page history of San Bernardino's first 150 years.  

It was published as a supplement to the daily newspaper in 1960.

The entire supplement is currently available on the City of San Bernardino's website by clicking here or clicking on the photograph of the first page, that is located at the right.  

Beginning with it's naming in 1810, the historic summary includes: Indian raids, life in Fort San Bernardino, railroad rivalry, farming, politics, gold and the National Orange Show.

Note: For related stories see "May 20, 1810"; "May 20, 1910" and "May 20, 2010".


June 5, 1964 - The Rolling Stones

      First American Concert


Songs performed by the Rolling Stones during their first U. S. concert (held in San Bernardino on June 5, 1964) include:

1.  Not Fade Away (The Crickets)

2.  I'm Talking About You (Chuck Berry)

3.  I Wanna Be Your Man (The Beatles)

4.  Hi-Heel Sneakers (Tommy Tucker)

5.  Route 66 (Nat King Cole)

6.  Walkin' the Dog (Rufus Thomas)

7.  Tell Me (The Rolling Stones)

8.  Beautiful Delilah (Chuck Berry)

9.  Can I Get a Witness (Marvin Gaye)

10.  I Just Want to Make Love to You (Muddy Waters)

11.  I'm All right (Bo Diddley)


*  The "June 1 - 1964" date on the poster is incorrect.  The Rolling Stones first U. S. tour began on June 1st when they arrived in New York at JFK Airport and gave a news conference.

*  On June 2nd & 3rd the Stones appeared on TV's Les Crane Show & Hollywwod Palace Show.

*  On June 4th they visited the RCA Recording Studios in Los Angeles.

*  The Rolling Stones' first U. S. concert actually took place in San Bernardino's Swing Auditorium at the National Orange Show on June 5, 1964, not on June 1, as the poster indicates.  And you could buy a ticket for $5.00.

*  Keith Richards said of their first American gig, "It was a straight gas, man.  They all knew the songs and they were all hopping.  It was like being back home.  Ah, love these Americans and Route 66 mentioned San Bernardino, so everybody was into it".

Note: On your next visit to the Museum look for the Rolling Stones' poster with the correct date.


October 25, 1968 - Santa Fe Superintendent's Car

1965 Photograph of Santa Fe Superintendent's Car No. 406 parked just East of the Depot in San Bernardino.

Santa Fe No. 406 was a steel Superintendent's Car manufactured by Pullman in 1926.

It was 52 feet long and equipped with four-wheel trucks and 37 inch Santa Fe standard rolled steel wheels. The nine foot wheel base insured an easy riding car.

Car 406 was assigned to Santa Fe's Middle Division in the 1950s.

In 1959 its Waukesha air conditioning system was replaced with window air conditioners, about the time it was moved to San Bernardino and assigned to A. K. Johnson, Superintendent of Santa Fe's Los Angeles Division.

The Los Angeles Divsion headquarters was located on the second floor of San Bernardino's Depot and Superintendent Johnson used Car 406 as a mobile office.

By 1964, No. 406 had been modernized with roller bearings, solid steel platform railing & shadow-lined paint.

No. 406 remained in San Bernardino until it was sold to the Texas Tank Car Works on October 25, 1968.

With Car 406 parked near the Depot, we can catch a glimpse of one of the Santa Fe Shops across the tracks.


March 27, 1971 - USS San Bernardino

USS San Bernardino, LST-1189, is a Tank Landing Ship and was one of 20 Newport Class LSTs (Photo courtesy of DefenseImagery.Mil)

*  The USS San Bernardino, LST -1189, (named in honor of the City of San Bernardino) was commissioned on March 27, 1971. 

*  The ship was 522 feet long, 70 feet wide, had a top speed of 22 knots (25 mph) and was assigned the home port of San Diego, CA.

*  Its crew consisted of 14 officers and 210 enlisted crew members. 

*  The ship carried 29 tanks & 350 combat troops while helicopters operated off the aft deck.

*  The ship was armed with the 20mm Phalanx system and 2 twin 3-inch/50-caliber guns.

*  The ship saw service in Vietnam and Desert Storm, was decommissioned on September 30, 1995, was sold to Chile and renamed Valdivia.

*  Photographs and memoribilia from the ship and its crew can be seen in the San Bernardino History and Railroad Museum.

(Photo taken in Coronado, CA, by John Lawlor) Offloading Its Cargo


*  As the ship approaches shore or a landing dock, the bow of the ship will separate into two halves.


*  A moveable ramp that has been stored on the ship's deck will be lowered to meet with the ground or dock.


*  A fixed gantry extending upward and forward from the ship will use a series of steel cables to support the moveable deck.


*  When in place the moveable deck will used to rapidly offload 29 tanks and 350 combat troops.


January 1, 1978 - SB's First Rose Parade Float

*  In 1978, the City of San Bernardino entered its first float in the Rose Parade (the 89thyear of the Parade).

*  The City's float was titled, "Gateway to Early California"

*  ...and it won the Pioneers Trophy.