Eating on the Empire Builder

After introducing the streamlined Empire Builder, the train’s menus featured paintings by Charles Russell, the cowboy artist who once lived in Great Falls on the Great Northern line. This is a breakfast menu offering meals from $1.00 to $1.35 (about $9.30 to $12.50 in today’s money).

Click image to download a 1.9-MB PDF of the front and back of this 1948 menu.

The menu cover features a Russell painting called the Buffalo Hunt, and the back of the menu notes that “a larger reproduction of the painting appears in the lounge-observation car of this train.” I have several other Russell menus for the Western Star that I’ll post when I get to that train, and they make the same claim. Since photos indicate that there was only one Russell painting in each observation car, this suggests that the railroad made the effort to supply each dining car with menus that matched the paintings in the observation car that happened to be on the same train.

Great Northern menus of the 1930s featured portraits of Blackfoot Indians that were painted by Winold Reiss specifically for the menus, while some menus from the 1940s featured photos of Glacier National Park. I’ll post some of these menus when I cover the pre-streamlined Empire Builder.

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