Desperate Stand

Along with the observation cars with Charles Russell paintings, the Western Star apparently inherited the Empire Builder’s Charles Russell menus. There were originally five observation cars in the series, with one more added for the Western Star, so there must have been six paintings and six menus, but I’ve so far only identified four: Desperate Stand, Buffalo Hunt, Intercepted Wagon Train, and Indian Warfare. Evidence in the Minnesota Historical Society suggests that the fifth was Indian Women Moving, but I have no idea about the sixth.

Click image to download a 2.8-MB PDF of this menu.

Here, Desperate Stand is on the cover of a 1954 lunch menu that features “G.N. Chicken Pie,” fried fish, beef pot roast, “sliced cold fowl,” and “chef’s suggestion” on the table d’hote side. For $1.75 to $2.00 (about $14 to $16 in today’s dollars), these meals come with potatoes, corn, bread, dessert, and coffee, tea, milk, or buttermilk.

The a la carte side of the menu offers a jelly omelet for $0.75, fried or broiled fish or a chicken pie for $1, half a fried chicken for $1.20, and “roast meats” or two chops for $1.25, along with assorted vegetables, sandwiches, salads, and desserts.

Click image to download a 0.8-MB PDF of this menu.

Here is the same menu cover on a 1953 dinner menu. This one is not from my collection; I found it posted on a Colorado College library web page, so it is lower in resolution than the menus I’ve scanned myself. This menu offers “fresh seasonable fish,” “Boston oyster fry,” fried chicken, prime rib, or “chef’s suggestion” on the table d’hote side, all for $2 to $3. The a la carte side is similar to the lunch menu.


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