Wonderful Ways West

“Wonderful Ways West” continues with the Southern Pacific’s theme that it has four routes into California, and travelers from the East to California can take different routes to and from the state “for little or no additional rail fare.” This brochure dates from 1953, so it has all the post-war SP streamliners: CIty of San Francisco, Golden State, Shasta Daylight, Sunset Limited, and more.

Click image to download an 18-MB PDF of this 24-page brochure.

This brochure dedicates four pages each to the Sunset and Golden State routes, just three pages to the Overland route, and five pages to the “coast routes,” including the Shasta Daylight, Coast Daylight, and even the Lark, which was an all-Pullman train between LA and San Francisco. The Starlight, the Lark’s short-lived all-coach overnight companion train, and the San Joaquin Daylight are both briefly mentioned as well.

Another three pages describe “streamliner accommodations,” but at least eight interior photos of the various trains are mixed in with scenic photos on the preceding pages as well. This differs from the pre-war See Twice as Much booklet that confines all interior photos of trains to the last seven pages. The notable thing is that only one tiny photo of a heavyweight train is shown, even though the Southern Pacific still operated plenty of heavyweight cars in secondary service on these routes.

The Southern Pacific was obviously proudest of the Sunset Limited and Shasta Daylight. The brochure has interior photos of the diner, coffee shop, and tavern car in each train showing how each was uniquely designed to reflect the region it serves. By contrast, there are no interior photos of the Golden State trains, all but one of which were cobbled together from various pool cars rather than explicitly designed for that route.

One creative touch is the use of distinct comic characters to represent each of the routes. These are more than just drawings; many of these characters are made up of everyday objects: a brass tab representing a bow tie; an eye-screw representing a banjo; melted wax represented Carlsbad Caverns; a cigar band representing the front of a San Francisco cable car. From the artist’s signature on the lower right of the front cover, I suspect this work was done by Lowell Herrero, a California artist who seems to be still alive and selling his artwork.

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