Burlington Name-Train Blotters

Today’s blotters from the Dale Hastin collection each feature a specific train or, in one case, two trains. The first one, the Chicago Limited, was the eastbound counterpart to the Denver Limited. These unimaginatively named trains (Wikipedia lists four other railroads having a train called the Chicago Limited) were replaced as Burlington’s premiere train on this route by the Aristocrat in 1930.


Click image to download a 371-KB PDF of this blotter.

However, this blotter appears to be from the 1930s, suggesting the trains may have been retained as secondary trains. The blotter doesn’t list a city, but the addresses (1416 Dodge and 10th & Farnam) are from Omaha, which suggests the Chicago Limited ran earlier than the Aristocrat so Omaha passengers could board the train in the early evening.

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More Tour Blotters

While yesterday’s blotters focused on Colorado and Yellowstone, these add Glacier Park to the mix. Judging from the typeface, the first one is probably older than the other three.


Click image to download a 446-KB PDF of this blotter.

The advertisement appears to say that round-trip transportation between Glacier and Yellowstone was just $4.75. While that sound’s cheap, it’s about $65 in today’s money. However, a round-trip from Denver to Colorado Springs was free, which sound cheap in any year. The mention of the Oriental Limited shows the blotter was from before 1929, when that train was replaced by the Empire Builder as Great Northern’s premiere train.

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Escorted Tour Blotters

Only one of these blotters has the escorted tours logo on it, but all are of the same vintage. Since Burlington Escorted Tours began in 1925 and one of the blotters mentions the Denver Limited–a train that was replaced in 1930 by the Aristocrat–I would date these blotters to the late 1920s. Today and tomorrow I’ll show nine of these blotters from the Dale Hastin collection.


Click image to download a 506-KB PDF of this blotter.

This blotter explicitly advertises escorted tours as “nothing to do but have a good time” since the escort does everything else.

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Treasure Lands of the Pacific Northwest

This, the ninth in the same series of booklets described in yesterday’s post, discusses the mineral wealth of the Pacific Northwest. Nowadays, “Pacific Northwest” is used to refer to Oregon and Washington; but the railways that published this booklet expanded it to include Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming. That’s lucky in this case, as most of the Northwest’s minerals at that time were found in Montana and northern Idaho.

Click image to download an 11.4-MB PDF of this 36-page booklet.

Since then, Wyoming has starred as a leading coal producer. But mines were and are far less important in Oregon and Washington. To make up for that, perhaps, the booklet also includes information on Alaska minerals.

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The Western Gateway to World Trade

The introduction to this 1924 booklet, which I scanned from the Spokane Public Library collection, notes that it is the eighth of the series of pamphlets published by the Burlington Route, Great Northern, and Northern Pacific railways “as part of a national campaign to inform the people of the United States about the Pacific Northwest—Montana, Wyoming, Idaho, Oregon and Washington—and to aid in its sound development.” We’ve already seen one of these booklets, Through the American Wonderland, promoting the region’s scenery. Others focused on timber, water power, poultry farming, minerals, and other industries.

Click image to download a 12.1-MB PDF of this 36-page booklet.

This one, published in 1924, deals with the shipping industry, focusing on the ports of Seattle and Portland. The booklet notes that, when measured by value, Oregon and Washington ports shipped more goods in 1922 than those of California. Of course, a large portion of the goods shipped to or from Northwest ports spent part of their journeys on Great Northern or Northern Pacific trains.

Portland-Seattle 1966 Timetable

By 1966, this timetable had shrunk from the equivalent of six pages in the 1962 edition to just four pages. All of the trains still operated; the difference was fewer connecting bus schedules and the equipment of trains was tucked in under each timetable instead of being given its own panel.


Click image to download a 1.2-MB PDF of this timetable.

The timetable also had room for an ad encouraging “family travel fun” to Seattle and Portland, illustrated by the Space Needle for Seattle and elephants and the zoo train for Portland. Portland was famous for being the home of Packy, the first elephant born in the western hemisphere in 44 years. Strangely, though Packy’s birth and the Seattle World’s Fair both took place in 1962, neither were mentioned in that timetable.

Portland-Seattle 1962 Timetable

By 1962, Great Northern had given up on an overnight train from Portland to Seattle, and its northbound train left Portland at 1:30 pm, leaving the late-afternoon departure to the Northern Pacific (whose train also left in the late afternoon in the 1960 timetable). The Great Northern trains of 1962 included a parlor car for first-class passengers, but apparently no longer carried a Seattle-Portland sleeping car to connect with the City of Portland to Chicago.


Click image to download a 2.0-MB PDF of this timetable.

As was the case in 1960, the fastest southbound train was Northern Pacific’s, which covered the 183 miles in four hours for an average speed of 46 mph. In 1962, all three northbound trains also took four hours. Amtrak’s trains today are ten minutes faster, probably because they make fewer stops, dropping the stop in Chehalis in favor of Centralia as well as several flag stops (Kent, Auburn, Sumner, Winlock, Castle Rock, and Kalama) served by one or more of the trains on the 1962 timetable.

Portland-Seattle 1960 Timetable

In addition to covering the Great Northern-Northern Pacific-Union Pacific pool trains between Portland and Seattle, this timetable unfolds to the equivalent of six pages to also show the Great Northern Internationals between Seattle and Vancouver. While the Internationals were run solely by the Great Northern, each of the three pool trains was run by one of the three railroads.


Click image to download a 1.9-MB PDF of this timetable.

The timetable doesn’t say which railroad ran which train, but trains 407 & 408, which the timetable noted had a Holiday Lounge car, were Northern Pacific; trains 457 & 458, listed as a Domeliner, were Union Pacific; leaving trains 401 & 460 as the Great Northern. Train 401 was coach-only while 460 also carried a sleeping car from Seattle to Portland that would be put on Union Pacific’s City of Portland to Chicago, allowing that train to compete for Seattle-Chicago passengers with GN’s own Empire Builder.

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Portland-Seattle On-Board Stationery

In the streamlined era, the route between Portland and Seattle was served by three trains per day, one operated by Great Northern, one by Northern Pacific, and one by Union Pacific. To avoid duplication, the three railroads agreed to pool there efforts and split the proceeds evenly. Although timetables varied over the years, generally travelers had their choice of a morning train, a midday train, and an evening train.


Click image to download a 156-KB PDF of this letterhead.

Despite the pooling, the trains were far from equal. The Great Northern train was mainly coaches, while the NP train had a parlor car for first-class passengers, lounge car, and diner. The Union Pacific train was best of all, at least in the 1950s, when it carried the domes from the Train of Tomorrow. By the early 1960s, it only had the dome parlor car, but still had a diner. Lacking lounges or parlor cars, the GN train probably didn’t carry this on-board stationery, but the stationery nevertheless listed all three railroads equally.

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SP&S Club-Lounge Car

While SP&S secondary trains (3 & 4) in the 1950s carried solarium-observation cars, the primary trains (1 & 2) connecting with the Empire Builder and North Coast Limited did not have observation cars, thus making switching easier in Portland and Spokane. Instead, the trains had club-lounge cars named Mount Hood and Mount St. Helens. The cars each had six roomettes, three double bedrooms (for a total of 12 beds), and a buffet-lounge, but no rear windows so they could be used at either the end or the middle of a train.


Click image to download a 164-KB PDF of this letterhead.

SP&S purchased the cars new from Pullman in 1947 along with some coaches and other sleeping cars that would be the North Bank Road’s contribution to the streamlined Empire Builder. While the other cars would go into pool service on the Chicago-Northwest train, the Hood and St. Helens would operate only from Spokane to Portland. When the North Coast Limited was streamlined, its Portland cars were also added to trains 1 & 2.

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