Western Wonder Tours

The Lackawanna didn’t make it any further west than Buffalo, but that didn’t stop it from offering escorted tours to Colorado, Yellowstone, California, and the Pacific Northwest. The California tours in this 1940 booklet had the added bonus of including the Golden Gate Exposition. Most tour costs included all transportation, hotels, and meals and even porters’ tips.

Click image to download a 17.0-MB PDF of this 28-page booklet.

The tours probably went on the Nickel Plate from Buffalo to Chicago. Tour 1 then continued to Denver, probably on the Burlington, then to Salt Lake over the Rio Grande’s Royal Gorge Route, and West Yellowstone on the Union Pacific. After a tour of Yellowstone, the tour went from Cody to Billings on the Burlington and back to Chicago on the NP. The cost for the fourteen-day tour was $257 from New York with a lower berth, or about $3,500 in today’s money.

Tour 2 went to California over the Santa Fe, with stops in Santa Fe and the Grand Canyon, then to Yosemite and San Francisco on the SP, then back to Chicago on the SP/UP route. The cost for the fifteen-day trip was $333, or nearly $4,500 in today’s money.

Tour 3 went to the Pacific Northwest on the Great Northern with stops in the Twin Cities and Glacier Park. From Spokane, the tour took the Union Pacific to Multnomah Falls, then took a bus trip on the Columbia River Highway to Portland. After visiting Mt. Rainier and Seattle, the tour took a Canadian Pacific steamship to Victoria, then Vancouver, then CPR/Soo Line to Chicago with a lengthy stop in the Canadian Rockies. The cost was $10 more than the California tour despite being the same number of days.

Tour 4 combined the California and Pacific Northwest tours into a three-week tour of the West. The combination tour included just about every stop of the other two tours except for Glacier Park and the Columbia River Gorge. The cost was $430, or about $5,700 in today’s money.

The booklet also describes several economy versions of the tours. A California Economy Tour went to Los Angeles on the Santa Fe, with stops in Santa Fe and the Grand Canyon, then visited Yosemite and San Francisco, returning to L.A. on SP’s coast route, and back to Chicago on the Golden State Route with a stop in El Paso and an optional visit to Carlsbad Caverns. Unlike the others, these tours were unescorted, used tourist sleepers west of Chicago, and only included some meals (“all meals except east of and including Chicago, and in Los Angeles and San Francisco”). The cost of the sixteen-day tour was $247, or about $3,300 in today’s money.

The Pacific Northwest economy tour went on the Northern Pacific via Yellowstone, took a bus tour of the Columbia Gorge from Portland, then to Seattle (but not Mt. Rainier), Victoria, Vancouver, and the Canadian Rockies. After taking the Canadian Pacific to Winnipeg, the tour took the Great Northern to the Twin Cities and the Burlington to Chicago. The $260 price (about $3,500 today) of the fifteen-day unescorted tour excluded meals east of Chicago and only included lunches in Yellowstone Park.

A California-PNW economy tour took the Golden State route to El Paso, where guests had a choice of visiting Carlsbad Caverns or Juarez, Mexico. This is followed by stops in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Portland, Seattle, Vancouver, and the Canadian Rockies–but not Yosemite, Rainier, or Victoria. The fifteen-day unescorted tour cost $266 or almost $3,600 in today’s dollars and like the California tour included all meals except east of Chicago, and in Chicago, Los Angeles, and San Francisco.


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