Spiral Tunnel Menu

This mid-day menu from the Trans-Canada Limited has a beautifully colored illustration of Canadian Pacific’s spiral tunnel route ascending the west side of the Rocky Mountains between Field and Lake Louise. Side flaps on the menu describe the two spiral tunnels and the five-mile-long Connaught Tunnel through Selkirk Mountains west of Field.

Click image to download a 2.3-MB PDF of this menu.

The menu is marked “1-9-25” which I presume dates it to 1925. As previously noted here, the Trans-Canada Limited was an all-Pullman train that operated between Montreal and Vancouver from 1919 to 1931 and was advertised as “the fastest train across the continent.” At 92 hours to go about 2,900 miles, it averaged just 31.5 mph, but it was able to hold the “fastest” title because American trains required a change with generally a long layover in Chicago, St. Louis, or New Orleans.

This staged photo shows one passenger train led by a 2-10-2 Santa Fe-type locomotive followed by a 2-10-4 Selkirk-type passing over the tail end of another passenger train going into one of the spiral tunnels. Passenger trains are too short to extend the entire length of a spiral tunnel, but it is unlikely that they would normally operate two trains so closely together. This official Canadian Pacific photo was probably taken by Nicholas Morant. Click image for a larger view.

The menu offered more than a dozen entrées, including lake trout, finnan haddie, braised veal jardinier, roast lamb, sirloin steak, half a broiled or fried chicken, and many others. Other items on the menu included Mulligatawny soup, baked stuffed tomatoes with bacon, blanc mange, and apple dumpling with Canadian maple syrup. Although one side is marked “a la carte,” this only distinguishes some of the side dishes from the entrées, as neither side is table d’hôte. At $1.50 (about $16 today), the sirloin steak is the most expensive item on the menu.

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