1956 Western Star Brochure

After the Great Northern added dome cars to the Empire Builder, that train didn’t need the large-windowed Mountain-series of observation cars, so it put those cars on the Western Star. This brochure advertises the upgraded train including interior photos of the new observation cars. Since the brochures for the Mid-Century Empire Builder only had illustrations of the interior of this car, these photos provide a new look into life aboard Great Northern’s greatest trains.

This illustration has been recycled from the Mid-Century Empire Builder brochure, but it fits the Western Star equally well. Click image to download a 4.7-MB PDF of the streamlined Western Star brochure.

The front bulkhead of each of the River-series observation cars featured a distinctive painting by Charlie Russell and the panels between the windows displayed Winold Reiss Indian portraits set off by Hudson-Bay-blanket-colored curtains. The Mountain-series cars were not so imaginatively decorated, as the bulkhead merely had a map of the Great Northern and the panels between the windows portrayed state flowers for each of the states served by the Great Northern set off by green curtains.

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Looking towards the back of the observation car, a large piece of etched glass divides the car into two rooms, offering a modicum of privacy without inhibiting scenic views of the outside. Unfortunately, the blinds have mostly been closed for these publicity photos so the full size of the windows is not apparent. The only window with an open blind is in the above photo, and through the window you can make out what appears to be a Great Northern business car in Pullman-green with gold pinstripes and a GN logo, suggesting these photos were probably taken in the St. Paul coach yard.

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The 1956 brochure also shows a photo of the dining car that once was used on the 1947 Empire Builder. Note the cloth tablecloths and the painting of Glacier Park wildflowers on the panel between the windows.

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