Escorted Tours to California in 1929

In this booklet, the Burlington Route and Santa Fe Lines combined their marketing skills to offer a three-week tour to the Southwest, California, and Colorado. Actually, the tour was mostly in the Southwest and California with only a brief stop in Colorado Springs.

Click image to download a 7.5-MB PDF of this 20-page brochure.

The tours departed Chicago every other Saturday from January 5 to March 15, taking two nights to get to Santa Fe, where they spent a night at the La Fonda or De Vargas hotels and took bus tours of cliff dwellings and Taos. After a night at El Tovar Hotel and a day in the Grand Canyon, they took an overnight train to Phoenix, where they took a tour of the “Valley of the Sun.” An overnight trip on the train put them in Riverside, where they spent the morning, then another train to Los Angeles.

After three nights at the Alexandria Hotel in L.A., they took an overnight train to San Diego, spending the next night at the San Diego Hotel. Then an overnight train to Merced and bus to Yosemite, where they spent a night at the Ahwanee Hotel. After a bus tour of Yosemite, they took the train to San Francisco and spent three nights at the St. Francis Hotel.

Their train then took two nights to go up the Feather River Canyon and Royal Gorge to Colorado Springs. After a night at the Broadmoor Hotel, they took a bus trip to the Garden of the Gods and the top of Cheyenne Mountain (presumably closed after World War II as this was the site of the North American Air Defense command). Finally, they took an overnight train to Chicago.

Each tour had one or more Pullmans set aside for its own use, so passengers could presumably keep personal belongings in their rooms for the entire trip. Though they stayed at several first-class hotels along the way, several short overnight trips aboard the Pullmans–Grand Canyon to Phoenix, Los Angeles to San Diego, and so forth–helped keep the costs of the tours down. Yet the tours weren’t cheap. Including all meals, double-occupancy lodging, and transportation, including a lower berth, the 21-day trips cost $449, or close to $5,000 in today’s money.

As can be seen from the above itinerary, this really was Santa Fe’s tour, with 7 nights in Pullmans and 10 in hotels in Santa Fe territory, a night each aboard Western Pacific, Rio Grande, and Burlington trains, and a night in Colorado Springs. The booklet notes that the same tour is offered in the summer but going in the opposite direction: Colorado, California, Grand Canyon, and Santa Fe.

In 1929, Santa Fe had seven daily trains per day between Los Angeles and Chicago, five of which stopped at Lamy (with connections to Santa Fe), six of which had connections to Phoenix, and all of which went to Williams (with connections to the Grand Canyon). The tours no doubt used more than one of these to complete various legs of the trip.

The booklet is bound in a nice, textured paper. The back cover has the Santa Fe logo along with the Burlington Escorted Tours logo with the Great Northern and Northern Pacific heralds discretely eliminated. Although Western Pacific and Rio Grande are mentioned on the front cover, they are not identified as tour sponsors inside. Since neither had rails reaching Chicago or other eastern points, they apparently left the arrangement of such tours to railroads that did.

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