Marva Louis, “Daylight Whitley” & the Southern Pacific Railroad

Marva Trotter Louis (1940)

In 2002, while looking through a box of old photos with my mother & grandmother, I found this picture of Marva Louis, the lovely wife of the Former Heavyweight Champion of the World, Joe Louis.  The faint signature on the photograph says “To ‘Daylight Whitley,” My Dear Friend.  From Marva Louis, 1940.”

When I asked my grandmother why Marva referred to my great-grandfather, William L. Whitley, Jr. as “Daylight” she stated that he was the Head Chef on Southern Pacific Railroad’s Passenger Train known as the “Shasta” and that he rode the “Daylight” train.  Thus, most of his friends on the railroad knew him as “Daylight Whitley.”

Tonight, I decided to Google the Shasta Train operated by Southern Pacific Railroad and the following website results appeared:

It appears that the train was originally known as “The Shasta Limited” in 1895 but was replaced by the “Shasta Daylight” by 1949. It traveled from Oakland, California to Portland, Oregon in 15 hours and 30 minutes.  Interesting.

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