This 1928 booklet exemplifies the embossed-cover series of booklets issued from about 1927 through 1931. This is one of my favorites, mainly because its bright, red cover is matched by the reds and other colors in a dozen brilliant, hand-colored photos inside. As this more recent panoramic photo of Cedar Breaks shows, the highly saturated colors in the booklet’s photos only slightly exaggerate the truth. Amateur geologists will be interested in pages 53 and 54, which give the names and ages of the rock strata in the various parks.
The booklet not only describes these sights, it offers several all-expense escorted tours, Union Pacific-owned hotels in Cedar City, Zion, Bryce, and Grand Canyon, and half-day and whole-day horseback trips. Lodging ranges from $2.50 a night in Cedar City for a room without a bath to $13 a night in Grand Canyon for a deluxe room on the American plan (i.e., with meals). Multiply by 11 to get today’s dollars.
Zion and Bryce are not as well-known or popular as Yellowstone or Yosemite, but Union Pacific promoted them as much as any of its other destinations. The reason is simple: the railroad faced at least two other major rail competitors to the California, Colorado, the Pacific Northwest, and Yellowstone, but it was the sole railroad serving southern Utah and its national parks.
The railroad inserted a small extra page into the binding of this booklet giving revised prices for some of the bus tours. “The opening and use of the new Mt. Carmel Highway in 1930 makes possible a radical reduction in motor-bus fares,” it says (revealing that this particular booklet was issued in 1930 or later). In order to show this extra page, I’ve included pages 46 and 47 twice.
The Mt. Carmel Highway isn’t pictured in this booklet, but it will be in later Zion booklets. It is distinguished by a mile-long tunnel with several large windows allowing people to see the scenery. This highway was designed by Samuel C. Lancaster, who previously designed the original Columbia River Highway. An extension to that highway, which wasn’t designed by Lancaster but which Lancaster certainly was familiar with, also featured a tunnel with windows.