Call of the Mountains is an early Great Northern entry into the escorted tour book genre. Its 40 pages include lengthy statements by two famous writers, six beautiful color paintings and a color centerfold relief map, and numerous black-and-white photos accompanying a thorough description of the park and a brief description of tours people could take.
The booklet is introduced by Mary Roberts Rinehart, then a famous American mystery writer who wrote the first “butler did it” story and a play called The Bat that inspired Bob Kane’s Batman. Rinehart also toured Glacier and wrote a couple of booklets for the Great Northern that can be downloaded at archive.org.
An even lengthier introduction is from Robert Sterling Yard, a national parks advocate and executive secretary of the National Parks Association. Yard was close enough to the Park Service’s first director, Steven Mather, to be best man at Mather’s wedding, and he wrote several books about the national parks, some of which are also on archive.org.
Page 9 answers a question I asked more than a year ago: who did the wildflower paintings that decorated the dining car of the streamlined Empire Builder and Western Star as well as the Charles Russell menus used by the Great Northern in the late 1940s and 1950s? The answer is Walter Loos, a Swiss-born artist who moved to Saskatchewan at the age of 20 in 1907, then to Montana in 1922 where the Great Northern commissioned him to do these wildflower paintings. After that, he moved to San Francisco, where he continued to paint but earned his living as an antique dealer.
This booklet doesn’t have a date, but page 35 notes Burlington Escorted Tours were a great success in 1925 and 1926, and now “enter their third successive season as a going concern.” Thus, we can date it to 1927. This also explains why the Prince of Wales Hotel, which opened in 1927, is illustrated with drawings rather than photographs.