Amtrak 1971 Lunch Menu

To start the New Year, I’m beginning to post items from the Bronze Age of rail passenger travel. If the Golden Age was the age of heavyweight trains–roughly 1900 to 1930–and the Silver Age was the age of lightweight streamlined trains–roughly 1934 to 1971–then the Bronze Age was and is the age of government ownership of North American passenger trains, including Amtrak and VIA.

Click image to download a 1.5-MB PDF of this menu.

Amtrak’s first menus used menu stock from the railroads it replaced, including this menu which the Union Pacific began using shortly before Amtrak took over. This is a little bit ironic as Amtrak’s original network wasn’t going to include Union Pacific trains, favoring the Super Chief/El Capitan over the City of Los Angeles, California Zephyr over the City of San Francisco, and Empire Builder over the City of Portland. It was only because Rio Grande originally decided not to join Amtrak that Amtrak used any Union Pacific tracks at all, namely those between Denver and Ogden.

This menu says it was used in “Chgo-Oak” service, which would mean the San Francisco Zephyr, which is what Amtrak originally called that train that partly followed California Zephyr and partly City of San Francisco tracks. The menu also refers to the “Dining and Sleeping Car Department” of the Burlington Northern Railroad, which is probably because the train’s dining car originally relied on the former Burlington commissary in Chicago.

Although probably no one but me is interested, through yesterday I’ve posted nearly 2,500 PDFs of Golden and Silver Age rail memorabilia. This includes nearly 540 menus, 500 booklets, and 300 brochures, nearly all of which are from my personal collection. Many of the 470 postcards and most of the 370 blotters are not from my collection, but nearly all of the other items are. These numbers don’t include magazine advertisements and posters that I posted as JPGs rather than PDFs. I’ll post Bronze Age items for the next couple of months or so, then go back and post more from the pre-Amtrak eras.


Amtrak 1971 Lunch Menu — 2 Comments

  1. Don’t ever think “no one but me is interested!” You have done a great service by posting these items and making them available to the public. It is a wonderful thing, and it’s appreciated by many people who might never take the time to contact you. Thank you! 🙂

  2. Indeed.

    Thanks a TON for all of the tremendous effort that you have put into this over the past three years. I have found it tremendously useful and very fascinating.

    I come here every day eagerly hoping to find something that catches my attention in an exceptional way. And even when it isn’t totally amazing, its still interesting. So really, its win-WIN from my perspective.

    I am tremendously thankful that you are adding Amtrak memorabilia. It will be an excellent new look into the modern times of Amtrak operation.

    I was shocked to find that the Amtrak menu still had the requirement to write orders down instead of giving them verbally. I seem to recall reading somewhere that that was a vestige of Pullman’s early days when the waiters were former slaves and expected to be illiterate. This prejudice continued shockingly late.

    Thinking about it, though, I seem to recall that the “Boxcar Children” book where they went across country by Amtrak had them writing down orders in the diners. That book had Superliners on the California Zephyr and Slumbercoaches on the Lake Shore Limited, which obviously puts it between 1981 and 1995 for time-frame.

    Does anyone know when that practice was discontinued? Or do they still do it where there are diners? Only on some routes?

Leave a Reply