Late 1960s Western Star Menus

As we have seen, during the 1950s the Great Northern endeavored to make the Western Star the match of the Empire Builder in every way except for not providing dome cars (and even then added one dome coach to the Star in winters when the Builder needed only two). This can be seen from the Star‘s menus, which featured such meals as broiled lobster tail, prime rib, pike, and trout.

The front cover used on all Western Star menus after 1966. Click image to download a 1.2-MB PDF of this 1966 dinner menu.

When patronage declined after the Seattle World’s Fair, however, the Great Northern simplified the Western Star‘s menus even as it simplified its paint schemes. According to volume 5 of John Strauss’ series of Great Northern operations books, during summer seasons in the mid-1960s, the Star would often have two diners in addition to a coffee shop car and lounge observation car to handle all of the Glacier Park tour traffic.

The 1966 dinner menu. Don’t click the image unless you want to download the same menu you will get if you click the above cover.

After the 1967 summer season, however, the train’s diner, coffee shop, and lounge observation cars were all replaced by a single car with 30 dining seats and 10 lounge seats. With this car came new menus, all of which had identical covers. While folders instead of cards, they were smaller than the Charlie Russell menus, and most had a limited selection of foods.

A post-1967 dinner menu. Click image to download a 0.9-MB PDF of this menu.

The first menu shown above is from 1966, when the full diner was still in use, and this dinner menu still has a pretty wide range of offerings: six table d’hôte meals, from salmon to sirloin steak; three “chef’s suggestions” from omelet to fish with potato, vegetable, sherbet, and beverage; three a la carte entrées (which are also among the table d’hôte entrées); and various appetizers, salads, breads, and desserts.

Click image to download a 0.3-MB PDF of this post-1967 breakfast/lunch menu.

The second and third menus are undated but clearly from after 1967. The only full meals on the second menu are beef short ribs; fish; and rib-eye steak. The third menu, whose prices are about 10 to 15 percent higher, also has ham and eggs. Both also have nearly identical (except for the prices) a la carte sections that are obviously meant to cover lunch and dinner.

Click image to download a 0.3-MB PDF of this post-1967 breakfast/lunch menu.

The last menu combines breakfast and lunch, and offers ham or bacon and eggs for breakfast and ground beef steak or fish for lunch. It also has an a la carte section meant to cover breakfast and lunch.

Only the second of these menus is from my own collection. The first and third are from Lindsay Korst’s collection. The fourth is from an ebay dealer.


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