Sun Valley by the Willmarths

Seeking to boost winter tourist travel, the Union Pacific Railroad opened Sun Valley, the nation’s first destination winter resort, in 1936. This was just two years after the Travel by Train poster campaign, and the Union Pacific decided to use posters to help publicize Sun Valley as well.

A Union Pacific ad featuring the image on this poster dates it to 1936. Click image to view a 999×1,500 JPG.

Many of the Sun Valley posters were done by the Willmarths. I can’t find much information about the Willmarths on line except that William was a watercolorist, while Kenneth specialized in oils. William was born in 1898 and died in Arizona in 1984. While the Travel by Train posters were signed “The Willmarths,” later posters and paintings were just signed “Willmarth,” and many look like watercolors, suggesting they were done by William Willmarth.

Click image to view a 955×1,500 JPG.

The above two posters appear to pre-date the war, and the one below has been dated 1940. Unfortunately, I can’t find a larger version of the one below.

The Willmarth’s poster styles became slightly more abstract after the war, as the following poster suggests. Hair and dress styles date this from the 1950s.

Click image to view a 520×700 JPG.

By 1960 or so, when the following poster was done, the style is even more free form.

Click image to view a 1,243×1,800 JPG.

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