The Domeliner City of Portland

The City of Portland was initially the only Union Pacific domeliner to have all three kinds of UP domes, including a dome-coach, dome-diner, and dome-observation cars. This gave passengers 66 dome seats for viewing scenery, although at least during dinner hours 18 of those seats were only available to lucky dining car patrons.

Click to download a 4.6-MB PDF of this 16-panel brochure about the domeliner City of Portland.

As near as I can tell, all of the dome-coaches used on the City trains were fairly identical, and the dome-lounges varied only in a few places. There were a couple of significant differences between the dome-diners. The biggest was in the private dining room beneath the dome. On both trains, the room was known as the Gold Room for the gold-plated tableware, but the rooms were decorated very differently.

The Gold Room aboard the City of Portland showing the rose wallpaper and gold tableware. Click to download a PDF of this postcard.

Where the COLA Gold Room was decorated with a Hollywood theme, the City of Portland one had a rose theme, with roses on the wallpaper, and red-rose colored privacy curtains. There were also some differences in decorations in the main dining room, but the dome-dining rooms were, as near as I can tell, identical.

The main dining room aboard the City of Portland showing two murals on screens in the background. The murals used on the City of Portland dome-diner appear to have differed from those used on the City of Los Angeles. Click to download a PDF of this postcard.

While all Union Pacific routes traversed through fascinating western scenery, the City of Portland arguably had the best scenery, particularly in the Columbia River Gorge. Thus, a photo of the train in the gorge was often used to advertise all City trains, as in the ad below.

This ad shows the iconic view of the City of Portland, including the blunt-end observation car with the neon “City of Portland” sign. This photo was used by UP advertising for years after the tail sign was removed.

By 1956, the City of Portland schedule required an hour longer to get from Chicago to Portland than the original 39-3/4-hour timetable, mainly because of the addition of several stops. But it was still faster than the Empire Builder or North Coast Limited.

The tail sign from the domeliner City of Portland was lit with neon lights. One of these original signs is in the National Railroad Museum in Green Bay, Wisconsin.

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