Pine Tree Stationery

Where the Empire Builder’s on-board stationery had a bright letterhead on creamy paper, the streamlined North Coast Limited took a more subtle approach. The paper itself was light green, almost transparent, with a rough surface.

The logo on the letterhead, which was also used on the envelopes, said “North Coast Limited” in gold script, and the same gold was used to stand-in for the yellow pine tree on the locomotive nose. Tiny letters credited the Northern Pacific Railway, Burlington Route, and Spokane, Portland & Seattle Ry.

Click each image to download PDFs of the stationery.

This raises a curious question: Why did the Northern Pacific recognize the SP&S while the Great Northern did not? The NP and GN each owned 50 percent of the SP&S, but the GN relied on it much more as a gateway to Portland, Bend, and California. The Northern Pacific paralleled SP&S tracks from Spokane to Pasco, so the former railroad only needed the SP&S from Pasco to Portland. The NP also had good relations with the Southern Pacific and directed its California traffic to the SP, while the GN had and used its own line to California, which required using SP&S tracks from Spokane to Bend, Oregon and connected with the Western Pacific at Bieber, California.

When the Great Northern introduced the streamlined Empire Builder in 1947, the SP&S bought its own mini-streamliner, including an E7 locomotive, baggage car, a coach, and a cafe-lounge car, all of which were painted in Empire Builder colors even though they stayed on SP&S territory between Portland and Spokane. SP&S trains number 1 and 2, which it advertised as the “New Streamlined Empire Builder,” also carried GN-owned through Portland-Chicago coaches and sleeping cars that connected with the Great Northern’s Empire Builder in Spokane. The SP&S did not own any cars in the Great Northern Empire Builder pool until 1950. Even after 1950, the SP&S name and herald were not featured on Empire Builder stationery.

When the North Coast Limited was streamlined and connected with trains 1 and 2 in Pasco, the SP&S stopped calling the trains the Empire Builder and just called them the Streamliner. The co-owned railway also soon replaced the Empire Builder colors with its own colors, dark green with a broad yellow stripe that varied over the years.

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