The sound of five Electro Motive Division diesels, topping out at 20,000 horsepower, rock the walls of the 7,369-foot long Tunnel 26 as UP 4685's headlights illuminate the final few hundred feet as the LOF67 prepares to exit the western portal. Originally bored in 1904 after three continuous years of blasting, the tunnel would be renovated in 1922 and has continued to carry passenger and freight trains beneath the rocky peaks of Santa Susana Pass connecting the San Fernando Valley with Simi Valley.
While no memorial marks the accident, the now 113-year-old bore was the site of a train crew's death aboard a Southern Pacific AC-8 "Cab Forward" steam locomotive in November of 1941. Working hard upgrade into the eastern portal of the tunnel just after midnight on the morning of November 19, SP 4193 entered Tunnel 26 with 97 freight cars at a steady 10 mph. As the sole 4-8-8-2 battled up the grade inside the tunnel, deflecting steam from the engine onto the tunnel walls caused the drive wheels to slip. As a massive amount of force exited the locomotive's stack, it pummeled the tunnel's ceiling quickly breaking it apart and raining pieces of concrete down. As the train began to slide backwards 10 feet, 75 cars back a knuckle broke placing the train into an emergency brake application still deep inside the tunnel now filled with smoke and steam. Tragedy struck as within minutes, oil dripping from the dampers was sparked beneath the locomotive igniting a fire.
Flames almost immediately spread to the cab killing the engineer, fireman and brakeman. Behind the locomotive in their stock cars, 300 cows also perished from asphyxiation along with two transients.