Though three years earlier, this lunch menu might have been found on the same heavyweight train as a menu similar to yesterday’s Zion menu. The menu doesn’t list the name of any train, so it was probably one of Union Pacific’s secondary trains.
The menu lists four complete meals, including chef’s salad, halibut, pork cutlets, and a bacon-and-tomato sandwich. For $1.25 to $1.50 (about $13 to $15.50 today), these come with tomato puree (except the chef’s salad), bread, dessert, and beverage.
Yellowstone is our most famous national park, but far from the most popular. A little under a million people visited the park in 1947, when this menu was issued, increasing to just under 3.5 million in 2012. This was exceeded by Great Smoky Mountain (9.7 million), Grand Canyon (4.4 million), and Yosemite (3.9 million), all of which are closer to major urban areas than Yellowstone. The Union Pacific didn’t care; one of its mottos was, “If it’s a national park, it’s probably on the Union Pacific,” and in these cases, with the exception of Great Smoky Mountain, it was true.
Union Pacific featured Yellowstone in many of its ads. The above two ads also mention Jackson Lake Lodge, in Grand Teton Park, which opened in 1955. While the mountains themselves were always federal, much of the flat land to the east of the Tetons was private ranches that were purchased by John D. Rockefeller, Jr., to be included in the park. Rockefeller also started the Grand Teton Lodge & Transportation Company, which built Jackson Lake Lodge and managed other facilities in and around the park.