This year’s front and back covers at least relate to one another, as the front shows the new Hillyard yard office at twilight while the back cover shows the view from inside the same office. The building is a modern or International style, which was probably considered quite fashionable at the time even though it was really several decades old.
Inside, the third page (which is numbered page 1) shows the Empire Builder along Puget Sound. But the train in the picture is the 1947 Empire Builder, complete with E7s instead of the F3s and F7s used to pull both the Empire Builder and Western Star in 1954.
The centerfold features eight different pieces of “specialized equipment furnished [for] Great Northern shippers.” In fact, none seem very exotic: there’s a flatcar, a depressed-center flatcar, a hopper car, covered hopper car, a large boxcar, refrigerator car, and trailers on a flatcar.
The GN also reports that it purchased its second computer in 1954, and has a photo of a crane lifting the computer up through a window on the sixth story of GN’s office building in St. Paul. The giant computer, which was probably used mainly for accounting and writing checks, was much less powerful than a smart phone today.
The report continues the unhappy news that “Additional unprofitable passenger train service was eliminated” so that “passenger trains are now operating on only 4,720 miles of the total system miles of road operated of ap- proximately 8,300.”
The report also says that GN had 343 steam locomotives left at the end of 1953 and planned to keep only 150 through 1956 to use during peak seasonal traffic. Locomotives would be retired when due for heavy repairs. Diesels handled 93 percent of all traffic, and virtually 100 percent of all passenger trains, in 1954