Journey by Postcard

As a part of their advertising, the railroads operating the California Zephyr made tens if not hundreds of thousands of postcards. I have at least ten different postcards, some of which I’ve already shown, but I’m showing them again here in order to show a complete travelogue of the journey, with some gaps filled in with photos taken by Steve Brown in January, 1968.

Click any postcard image to download a PDF of the postcard.

After leaving Chicago at 3:30 pm, the train stops in Galesburg at 5:45 pm for five minutes. Early risers the next morning will see Colorado’s Front Range before the train arrives in Denver at 8:20 am.

Here the train is climbing the Front Range through a rock formation known as the Flatirons. For some reason, I can’t find any evidence that the railroads ever issued a postcard at this scenic location; this is a painting by Howard Fogg.

Steve Brown snapped this photo of a rock overhanging the dome cars in South Boulder Canyon, about 35 miles west of Denver.

This is Pinecliffe, deep in the Front Range.

A couple of hours after leaving Denver, the Zephyr enters the east end of the Moffat Tunnel, more than 9,000 feet above sea level.

I believe this is west of the Moffat Tunnel near Fraser, Colorado.

When the trains were on time, they met at a siding in Glenwood Canyon called Grizzly. The Alco locomotives in black & yellow date this postcard to the early 1950s; during the 1980s, the two-lane road on the other side of the river was expanded into Interstate 70.

Being the product of a graphics artist rather than a camera, the above postcard was no doubt first made before the train was in service. The back has a note postmarked 1950. The fact that an approaching train is visible through the dome window suggests that this is supposed to be at Grizzly, but the colors of the canyon walls are wrong.

Not a postcard, but this wonderful photo of the trains passing at Grizzly was taken in 1968 by Steve Brown. Notice the locomotives on both trains are in perfect A-B-B-B-A formation. However, the middle B unit is an Alco body, but probably only contains a steam boiler to heat the train, not a Diesel-electric engine.

This could be in any of several canyons in Colorado. The Rio Grande lived up to its slogan of “Through the Rockies, Not Around Them.”

This postcard puzzles me; I suspect it is a black & white photo, possibly in Gore Canyon, and the colorist has added too much green.

On the Western Pacific now, the train is in the upper reaches of Feather River Canyon.

The train descends the Sierra Nevada through Feather River Canyon.

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