Lake Michigan to Puget Sound

Various publishers issued paperback booklets like this for selected rail routes, such as the Rio Grande (“Rocky Mountain Views”), SP’s Portland-San Francisco line (“Shasta Route”), and Union Pacific’s Overland Route (“Pathway to the Setting Sun”). While not railroad issue, they were obviously published with the cooperation of the railroads and were no doubt sold in train stations and possibly on board the trains themselves.

Click image to download an 81-MB PDF of this 52-page booklet.

This particular booklet has hand-colored photos (at least one of which is based on a black-and-white photo by Asahel Curtis) along with a couple pages of text and a Milwaukee Road route map. The photos, nearly all of which show pictures of Milwaukee trains in scenic locations, are printed on white paper glued onto one side of a much cheaper grade of paper; so this 52-page booklet has just 23 photos including the one on the cover.

Someone has handwritten “J. Richard Haxton 1923, Returned to Pullman Wn from Detroit Michigan.” The $1.25 price of the book would be nearly $14 today.

On the inside back cover, someone else has pasted five business cards of J.E. Custer, an agent with Northern Pacific, whose time with the railroad apparently included stints in Walla Walla, Portland, and Seattle. Also pasted in is an early version of NP’s “Story of the Monad,” which I didn’t scan except for the two pages that happened to be open when I scanned the booklet that is part of the Spokane Public Library’s Northwest Collection.


Lake Michigan to Puget Sound — 1 Comment

  1. Beautiful book and nice scan job, as usual. I really like those hand colored photos. They make everything look so much nicer than it really was, but that’s the allure of the tinting and cleaning things up in those pre-PS days.

    I’d guess that J. E. “Ed” Custer was the owner of the book, and he used it to keep his business cards as he got promoted over the years. The one for his position in Spokane is much later than than the book. It shows both a postal code and six digit phone number led by a telephone exchange prefix of Endicott. That puts it in the late pre-WWII range or slightly after the war.

    The date for the book itself is a little harder to figure out. The route map shows the Las Vegas and Tonopah still in operation, and that railroad was abandoned in 1918. The autos shown in the photo in the woods appear to be from about 1910. It’s hard to tell from the photos but it looks like the passengers cars are still wood, and the baggage and RPO may not have vestibules. All that would also be consistent with a date around 1900-1915. As we both know, railroads sometimes used older photos in books and pamphlets, and I’d guess that the MLW sold this book well into the 20’s so they’d recover the cost of the photos and printing. The $1.25 price is consistent with the period of inflation that occured in the early 20’s as as a result of the aftermath of WWI. All fascinating stuff to a railroad historian, and I really appreciate your efforts saving all this in one website.

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