Burlington Tours in 1969

Items from near the end of the Silver Age often betray a feeling of “How the mighty have fallen!” That’s especially true for this 44-page booklet advertising Burlington (and GN and NP) tours for 1969. Despite the Depression, Burlington Escorted Tour booklets from the 1930s were beautifully designed, and sometimes arguably overdesigned. This one, however, looks like it was put together by high school students advertising a yard sale. Instead of using a graphics artist, typesetter, and offset printer, the designer of this booklet cut up and rearranged previous ads with a pair of scissors and glue, supplemented them with IBM Selectric type, and printed the results on 11″x17″ paper on what was no doubt a Xerox-brand photocopier (because that was the brand leading corporations used in those days).

Click image to download a 30.9-MB PDF of this booklet.

For someone used to a manual typewriter and mimeograph copiers, these were sophisticated tools in 1969. The ability to change fonts on the Selectric, for example, allowed the creator of this booklet to type in both Roman (using a Letter Gothic ball) and italic (using a Light Italic ball). Large letters not found from previous ads were laid down using Letraset or some similar dry-transfer process.

The result is a hodgepodge in which some pages may be all typeset (e.g., the pages numbered 2 & 3), others all Selectric (page 25) or almost all Selectric with a few dry-transfer headlines (e.g. pages 10 & 11), and other pages combine all three forms of type (e.g., pages 16 & 23). While sophisticated compared with a mimeograph, this was amateurish compared to earlier Burlington booklets. For example, page 24 is a typographer’s nightmare, using four completely different dry-transfer fonts at the top, what I suspect were cut-and-pastes from previous typeset ads in the middle, and body text using the two Selectric fonts.

The graphics aren’t much better. For example, page 30 uses an illustration of the California Zephyr not seen since before the train was inaugurated in 1949.

The booklet offers escorted tours on about half the pages (pages 12-13, 16-17, 20-21, 22, 23, 24-25, 27, 30-31, 33, 34, 35, & 36), and non-escorted tours on most of the rest. Page 7 indicates that a seven-day unescorted Yellowstone tour including rail fare from Chicago, four nights of hotel lodging (double occupancy, and meals in the park but not on the train was $198 (about $1,400 today). Page 17 says that what is called a seven-day (but I only count six) escorted tour including rail fare from Chicago, three nights of hotel lodging, and all meals both en route and in the park was only $158 (about $1,000 today). It’s hard to see how the single day difference would account for the large difference in price.

On the other hand, an eleven-day escorted tour to Yellowstone & Glacier (with Grand Teton and Waterton Lakes) was $436 double-occupancy (multiply by 6.5 to get today’s dollars), while a ten-day non-escorted tour to Yellowstone & Glacier (including Waterton but not Grand Teton) was only $306 double-occupancy. The escorted tour included almost all meals while the non-escorted tour did not include the meals while en route. In this case, the escort seemed to add about $100 to the cost of the tour.

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