Great Northern 1928 Timetable

One of the last timetables before Great Northern inaugurated the Empire Builder, this is one of the curious timetables (of which we’ll see more) in which the cover page, shown below, is actually the last page, while the first page has an ad for tours in Glacier Park. The changes in the fifteen years since the 1913 timetable are surprisingly minor.

Click image to download a 31.3-MB PDF of this 44-page timetable.

The Oriental Limited still operates about twelve hours apart from the secondary train, whose name has changed from the Oregonian to the Glacier Park Limited. Although the timetable shows a lot more stops for the secondary train, it actually only takes 25 minutes longer to get from Chicago to Seattle than the Oriental Limited. The Oriental Limited itself has been speeded up a bit from 1913, but by less than three hours.

Unnamed Burlington trains 43 and 44 from Kansas City no longer serve as an extra local train after they reach the Great Northern’s main line in Shelby. Instead, they appear to merge with the Oriental Limited and through cars from train 43 only go as far as Glacier Park.

The 1928 timetable showed five trains a day between Seattle and Portland, up from three in 1913. However, four of the 1928 trains were operated by NP and UP; I believe 1913 was before GN, NP, and UP had agreed to pool their trains so each offered three or more trains. Seattle-Vancouver, BC service is down from four trips a day in 1913 to three in 1928.

The 1913 timetable that I presented here had no ads, but this one features several. The featured ad, of course, is the one that is really on the front cover offering a four-day tour through Glacier Park for $45.25 (about $500 today), including meals, accommodations, bus, and boat fares.

Page 27 has a full-page ad for Northland Transportation Company, “a subsidiary of the Great Northern Railway.” It lists, but doesn’t provide schedules for, bus service from the Twin Cities to Duluth, Ely, Hibbing, Fargo, and other Minnesota, Wisconsin, and North Dakota towns. Northland is considered one of the earliest ancestors of what would become Greyhound Lines.

Two half-page ads invite travelers to take the name of GN’s primary train seriously by traveling to Asia on NYK or American Mail lines. American Mail offered round trips from Seattle to Yokohama for $600 ($6,500 today); Seattle to Shanghai for $692 ($7,500 today); and Seattle to Manilla for $750 ($8,100 today). All these trips offered optional returns to San Francisco via Honolulu and promised outside rooms with first-class beds, not berths. Today, round-trip airfares from Seattle to Tokyo start at around $1,500.

One new train that should have been a portend of things to come–but wasn’t–was a mixed-train daily on Great Northern’s Bend-Klamath Falls line. In 1931, this line would continue into California, meeting with the Western Pacific and providing GN trains with a through route to the San Francisco Bay Area. GN had promised to have a section of the Empire Builder follow this route to Oakland, but thanks to the Depression it never happened.

Leave a Reply