Between 1892 and about 1960, the Santa Fe Railway acquired more than 600 paintings, mostly of the Grand Canyon and Southwest Indians, by scores of fine artists. Beginning in 1907, the railway used many of these paintings on its annual calendars, and starting as early as 1910, it also used them on its menus.
Click image to download a 1.6-MB PDF of this menu.
One of the railway’s favorite painters was Eanger Irving Couse, whose paintings graced nearly two dozen Santa Fe calendars between 1914 and 1938. Couse was born on a Michigan farm, and after studying art in New York and Paris, settled in Taos, New Mexico, where a colony of artists interpreted the Southwest Indian way of life.
The Santa Fe acquired this painting of a Hopi Indian with a Kachina Doll in 1929 and used it on the 1930 calendar. It was so popular that the railway used it again on its 1964 calendar. Here it appears on a Texas Chief lunch menu dated 1961. For some reason, the menu version is sepia toned; a color representation of the painting is below.
Depending on how you count, this menu offers at least eleven different meals ranging from an “aged cheddar cheese” sandwich with cole slaw for 85 cents (about $7 in today’s money) to “fried filets of walleyed pike” with whipped potatoes and mixed green salad for $1.70 (about $14 in today’s money). For an extra 35 to 55 cents (about $3 to $4.50), diners could close their meals with one of nine different desserts ranging from “fruit gelatin with cream” to apple pie a la mode.