Escorted Tours

Starting in the 1920s, and in some cases earlier, western railroads offered escorted tours of national parks and other sights in the West. Starting from Chicago or St. Louis, these tours included transportation, lodging, and meals for one price. Most tours would go Pullman and stay in the best hotels; budget tours would go coach and stay in camps or less-luxurious hotels.

To advertise these tours, the railroads published elaborate booklets filled with photos–often in color–and descriptions of the sights people would expect to see on the tours. Sometimes separate booklets listed detailed itineraries and tour prices.

Union Pacific and its partner Chicago & North Western was probably the leading purveyor of such tours. Along with partner Southern Pacific, Union Pacific reached almost every major western national park except Glacier and Mesa Verde. UP published a series of annual booklets for its tours to California, Colorado, the Pacific Northwest and Alaska, Yellowstone, and southwest Utah parks. Plus it had a separate series of books with itineraries and prices.

New: I’ve now posted thumbnails providing easy access to all of the Union Pacific escorted tour booklets.

Union Pacific’s leading competitor for tour business was the Burlington Route, which in 1925 combined with its co-owners, Great Northern and Northern Pacific, to form Burlington Escorted Tours. I’ve posted a couple of Northern Pacific tour booklets, a Burlington booklet on Rocky Mountain Park, and some Burlington Escorted Tours booklets (and more here).