1939 Columbine Menu

This beautiful menu seems to have been printed in at least four colors–blue, green, purple, and yellow–which were also combined to print a fairly realistic-looking color photo on the back cover. The inside pages were printed in just green and purple. CYMK four-color printing had been invented in 1906, but it wasn’t until the late 1930s that it was heavily used by railroads (such as in this 1936 Canadian Pacific booklet), probably resulting from the introduction of Kodachrome photography in 1935.

Click image to download a 1.4-MB PDF of this menu.

Union Pacific was slow to take advantage of CYMK printing, instead issuing this menu as part of what I now realize was a special series of non-photo menus for each of Union Pacific’s premiere trains in the late 1930s. Menu covers for the streamliners had the Winged Streamliner logo and the words “The Streamliner City of . . .” in art deco lettering. In addition to columbine for the Columbine, menu covers for the premiere heavyweight trains had roses for the Portland Rose, California poppies for the Los Angeles Limited, what appears to be a Southern Pacific steam locomotive for the Overland Limited, and a horse and rider for the Pony Express. Since these menus were only used on premiere trains, leaving the Black-and-White photo series for other trains, I’m going to call these the Premiere series on my UP menu checklist.

The Portland Rose menus go back to at least 1931, but we know the Los Angeles Limited continued to use Art Nouveau menus through 1934. I suspect the California poppy and some of the other Premiere series menus were introduced at about the time of the streamliners.

This particular menu was used for a “special train” (more likely individual cars) for the Denver-Notre Dame Club en route to South Bend to watch a football game in November, 1934. For 75 cents (a little over $13 in today’s money), the menu offered luncheons of halibut, meat loaf, or omelet with tomato juice or Boston clam chowder, potatoes rissole, broccoli Hollandaise, pineapple and cottage cheese salad, beverage, and apple cobbler or vanilla ice cream for dessert.

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