This is a terrific example of a switch key from the Southern Pacific railroad that dates from approximately 1900 - 1920. It is brass, and has darkened to an attractive chestnut brown. On one side of its bow it is stamped S.P.CO. in strong block letters. On the other side is stamped serial number 15633 and the letter S for "switch." Also stamped there is the sought-after oval logo of the Adams & Westlake Company: A&W CO. CHICAGO, which the company used in the earliest 1900s.
Condition is superb, with just the right amount of wear on its bit edges and barrel end, which are smooth and nicely rounded. This would make an attractive display in any better collection of railway keys and locks.
According to Wikipedia: The Southern Pacific was an American Class I railroad that existed from 1865 to 1998. It operated a network of rail lines in the Western United States. The official names for the company operating this network through the years were Southern Pacific Railroad, Southern Pacific Company and lastly Southern Pacific Transportation Company. The Southern Pacific Railroad began in 1865 as a land holding company. By 1900 it had become a major railway system incorporating many smaller companies. The SP was the defendant in the landmark 1886 United States Supreme Court case, Santa Clara County v. Southern Pacific Railroad which is often interpreted as having established certain corporate rights under the Constitution of the United States. The Southern Pacific Railroad then was replaced by the Southern Pacific Company, which assumed the former company's railroad operations. In 1969, the last incarnation of the SP, the Southern Pacific Transportation Company, was founded and took over the Southern Pacific system. The Southern Pacific Transportation Company was taken over by the Union Pacific Corporation and merged with their Union Pacific Railroad. The Southern Pacific Transportation Company was the surviving railroad as it absorbed the Union Pacific Railroad and changed its name to "Union Pacific Railroad", the Southern Pacific Transportation Company is now the current incarnation of the Union Pacific Railroad.
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