The New Oriental Limited

Great Northern issued this undated brochure after re-equipping the Oriental Limited in 1924. But the brochure mentions that “a tunnel seven and eight-tenths miles long is being bored through the Cascade Mountains at a cost of $16,000,000.” Since GN made the final decision to build this tunnel in 1925, the brochure is from that year or possibly a year or two later.

Click image to download an 18.4-MB PDF of this brochure. Click here to download an OCRed version.

The 36-page brochure is about equally balanced between photos and text. Except for a couple of pages near the back, it focuses on the train rather than the scenery or destinations it reaches.

The inside back cover has a fold-out that illustrates four of the cars on the train. First is a standard 12-and-1 (twelve sections, one drawing room) sleeper. Next is the observation car which, in addition to the observation room, has two compartments, a women’s lounge and shower, and a large smoking room. On the other side of the fold-out is a twelve-section sleeper in which the drawing room has been turned into a men’s barber shop and shower. Finally there is the dining car. The PDF shows the fold-out folded up, and opened to show both sides, which brings the page count to 40.

Although the booklet breathlessly describes “the extraordinary service features provided aboard the Oriental Limited,” they don’t seem particularly extraordinary today. The barber/valet, women’s maid, showers, on-board telephone (which worked only in the Chicago, Seattle, St. Paul, and Tacoma train stations) were found on may of the top trains of the 1920s and 1930s. If we don’t find them on trains today, it is mainly because today’s trains are so much faster (taking less than two days rather than more than three to get from Chicago to the West Coast) that people don’t feel they need such amenities.

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