Here’s a timetable from the end of the Golden Age of passenger trains. Though only half the size of most timetables, this one has 72 pages, the equivalent of 36 pages in a regularly sized table. The larger size would probably have been more legible, as many of the schedules in this one only show traffic in one direction, so travelers had to skip back and forth between pages to plan round trips.
Click image to download a 28.7-MB PDF of this timetable.
Southern certainly was a hopping railroad in 1925, having six trains a day each way between Washington and Birmingham, with four trains from Birmingham to New Orleans. There were also six trains a day each way between Cincinnati and Chattanooga, and four or more on several other routes. The narrow timetables have enough room to display four trains a day in each direction, but counting local trains some routes have as many as eight in each direction. For example, there are eight trains between Washington and Manassas and seven between Charlotte and Danville.
This 24-page booklet is undated, but it refers to the “new” San Antonio Coliseum. Since the coliseum opened in October, 1949, I’m guessing the booklet was issued in 1950, when the population of San Antonio’s urban area was about 450,000, of which 408,000 were in the city itself, nestled in 90 square miles. Since then, the population has quadrupled while the urbanized land area has hextupled.
Click image to download a 21.9-MB PDF of this booklet.
In addition to the coliseum, the booklet highlights the San Antonio River Walk, which was built just before World War II with local and WPA funds. The walk made (and still makes today) San Antonio much more livable during the hot summers when temperatures often exceed 100 degrees.
In 1966, Missouri Pacific’s timetable shrank from an eight-page booklet to the equivalent of six pages in a folder. The actual train schedules filled three pages of the previous edition, but only two are needed in the 1966 version.
Click image to download a 4.8-MB PDF of this timetable.
Routes cut from the 1966 schedule included Memphis-Little Rock, Houston-Brownsville, and Kansas City-Omaha. In addition, the four daily trains on the St. Louis-Kansas City route were cut to three. The train that was dropped was 11 & 12, once known as the Colorado Eagle, but it lost that name (as well as its dome cars, diner, and other amenities) in 1964. With this timetable, the train completely disappeared.
A little attrition is evident since the previous timetable that was shown here yesterday. Where the winter 1964 timetable had two trains a day between Fort Worth and El Paso, the spring 1965 timetable has only one.
Click image to download a 5.3-MB PDF of this timetable.
The train that disappeared was the El Paso leg of the Texas Eagle, with dining car service and domes scheduled for daylight viewing, while the coach-only, overnight, no-meal-service train that remained was nameless, so this represented an extra hard loss in service. Otherwise, no trains appear to have been dropped.
This timetable is down to eight pages, but Missouri Pacific still had plenty of passenger trains in 1964. In fact, it had two to four daily trains on many routes. St. Louis-Kansas City had four trains a day, one of which continued to Pueblo where it met the Rio Grande to Salt Lake and San Francisco. St. Louis-Ft. Worth had three a day, two of which went on to El Paso where they met the Southern Pacific to Los Angeles. New Orleans-Ft. Worth had two a day, which merged with the St. Louis trains to go to El Paso.
Click image to download a 5.0-MB PDF of this timetable.
Texarkana-San Antonio had two a day, one of which went on to Laredo where it met NdeM’s Aztec Eagle to Mexico City. New Orleans-Houston also had two a day, while Kansas City-Omaha, Memphis-Little Rock, Little Rock-Alexandria, Houston-Palestine, and Wichita-Geneseo (the latter being on the Kansas City-Pueblo line) each had one a day. Continue reading
By the time of this timetable, Missouri Pacific had replaced the Scenic Limited with the Colorado Eagle, which connected with Rio Grande’s Royal Gorge train in Colorado Springs. Other streamlined trains in this timetable include the St. Louis-Omaha Missouri River Eagle and Memphis-Tallulah Delta Eagle. The Sunshine Special survived as a heavyweight train because MP hadn’t been able to acquire enough equipment to streamline it before the war.
Click image to download a 27.7-MB PDF of this 36-page timetable.
While most streamlined trains tended to operate as a unit from origin to destination, heavyweight trains often had cars added or detached at many cities along the journey. The Sunshine Special out of St. Louis, for example, had cars going to Corpus Christi, Mission, Mexico City, San Antonio, Ft. Worth, El Paso, Los Angeles, El Dorado, Shreveport, Houston, Brownsville, Galveston, St. Charles, and Alexandria.
The colorful cover of this 68-page guide shows the Royal Gorge, Moffat Tunnel, and Colorado Rockies juxtaposed with Mexico, ocean beaches, and a major city with skyscrapers too numerous to be Denver in the 1930s. The equally colorful map on the back shows Missouri Pacific trains connecting St. Louis with San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Mexico City, even though MP tracks came nowhere near any of those cities.
Click image to download a 62.7-MB PDF of this booklet.
Inside, five pages describe Missouri Pacific’s “fleet of air-conditioned trains,” focusing on the Sunshine Special (which, according to the map, went to L.A. and Mexico City but in fact merely had through cars on Southern Pacific’s secondary train, the Argonaut to Los Angeles and NdeM’s trains 1 & 2 to Mexico City) and Scenic Limited (which actually did go to San Francisco over the Rio Grande and Western Pacific). The remainder of the booklet covers dozens of different destinations, including a wide variety of national parks, hot springs, and resorts. Continue reading
One more menu from November, 1947 shows Salt Lake City’s Temple Square on the cover. The back cover gushes about Brigham Young’s wisdom and foresight in leading the Latter Day Saints to Salt Lake a century before the menu was issued and guiding the growth of the community. Mormons were probably still viewed with some suspicion by other Christians in 1947, but there can be no doubt that the developed a society that has thrived in what would at first to be a pretty barren landscape.
Click image to download a 1.3-MB PDF of this menu.
Inside, this menu appears identical to yesterday’s. They offer five table d’hôte entrées, including trout, salisbury steak, pork chops, roast turkey, and sirloin steak, all of which come olives or celery, split pea soup, baked potato or squash, bisquits, salad, dessert, and beverage. The a la carte menu lists two kinds of fish but no meat entrées. The trout is $1.25 (about $14 in today’s money) a la carte or $2.00 as a full meal ($22 today) , while the Rio Grande sirloin steak meal is a full $3.50 (close to $39 today).
At 12,965 feet (the menu says 12,863 but the estimates must have been revised), Mount Sopris is one of Colorado’s shorter mountains. I may be wrong, but I don’t think it was visible from any Rio Grande train.
Click image to download a 1.3-MB PDF of this menu.
The back of the menu mentions the village of Redstone, which is “almost in the shadow of Mt. Sopris.” However, it incorrectly says the village was “originally built as a private estate.” In fact, the town was built for coal miners as an example of “enlightened industrial paternalism.” It is true that the owner of the company built a huge mansion, Redstone Castle, near the town, but he also built 84 homes with electricity and indoor plumbing, a library, theater, school, and the then affordable Redstone Inn. Most of these features were rare for a mining town in 1898.
Ruby Canyon isn’t as spectacular as Glenwood, Gore, and some of the other canyons followed by the Rio Grande Railroad, but it is the first interesting scenery eastbound passengers see on entering Colorado. The back of this menu has lengthy but mostly meaningless text about the canyon, just the sort of thing for people to read while waiting for the rest of their families to make up their minds about what to order for breakfast.
Click image to download a 2.0-MB PDF of this menu.
This menu comes with a stapled insert pleading for people to follow President Truman’s recommendation to “use no meat on Tuesdays, use no poultry or eggs on Thursday, and save a slice of bread a day.” It also notes that, to comply with Truman’s request, the dining car will serve bread and butter only on request. This seems pretty needless as any war-related food shortages must have ended by November, 1947, when this menu was dated. The PDF has extra pages to show the centerfold both with and without this insert.