Opening a Gate to Hell: The 1989 San Bernardino (USA) Derailment & Pipeline Fire


The location of San Bernardino in North America
The site of the accident seen from above today. The train came from the northwest (top-left of the image).

The train involved

SP #8278, the locomotive leading the train involved in the accident, leading a different freight train in December 1987.
SP #7551 photographed wearing the new SPSF merger-livery in 1985.
SP #9340, the fourth locomotive of the train involved, photographed in 1987.

The accident

The pneumatic brakes on a locomotive, air from the cylinder operates a lever that moves the shoe on (reduced pressure) or off (applied pressure) the wheel.

Aftermath of the crash

The remains of 3 of the locomotives sitting in the wreckage,, covered in trona.
One of the houses on Duffy Street, buried up to the roof in the spilled cargo.

The fire

A newspaper reporting on the fire, with a false death toll.


A resident’s car parked in front of the remains of a house, with pieces of train cars sticking out the top.
The destroyed remains of SP #8278, the leading locomotive, sitting in the wreckage after the derailment.
An aerial view of the wreckage left by the derailment.
SP 7443, now MRSL 5313, photographed in Mendes, Brazil, in 2019.
The memorial for the accident, located at Tehachapi Loop.




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