Willmarth Vacation Ads

In 1946, Union Pacific ran a series of ads featuring Willmarth water colors of vacation destinations such as Colorado, Yellowstone, and Zion. Other ads in the series include California, dude ranches, and Western Wonderlands, but the cartoonish drawings in these ads aren’t signed Willmarth, so they were probably done by other artists.

Click any image to view a larger JPG.

Each ad in the series had a small image at the bottom of a Union Pacific streamliner next to a steam locomotive, no doubt pulling a “limited or Challenger.” Did the Willmarths paint these little images too?

These ads appeared in a variety of magazines, including American (which ceased publication in 1956), Cosmopolitan (which was a literary magazine in the 1940s and 1950s), New Yorker, and no doubt many others.

Note that the Colorado, Yellowstone, and Zion ads all featured a vertical painting while the Pacific Northwest ad has an oval painting.

Another ad in the series emphasizes Utah/Arizona, Colorado, and Yellowstone in an oval similar to the Pacific Northwest oval. This one, however, is unsigned, though it is possible the signature was cropped out.

In 1947, photographs began to replace paintings in Union Pacific’s destination-oriented ads. Though the steam locomotive quickly disappeared, many of the ads continued to show a small painting of a streamliner at the bottom, but there is no evidence that these pictures were done by the Willmarths.

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