Great Northern 1966 Annual Report

Great Northern’s passenger revenues increased yet again in 1966, this time thanks to bus and airline strikes. Still, passenger costs exceeded revenues, making passenger service an “enigma” for the railway.

It is difficult to see, but the Great Northern logo is embossed on the lower righthand corner of the cover. Click image to download a 27.8-MB PDF of this 28-page report.

Overall, the GN did well in 1966, with operating expenses falling to 73.8 percent of revenues, “the best operating ratio in many years.” President Budd was upset that the Interstate Commerce Commission had rejected GN’s application to merge with the NP, but the ICC then reopened the case, giving hope to those who wanted to keep the Hill lines together.

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Great Northern October 1966 Timetable

This is my favorite Great Northern timetable cover as it shows the Empire Builder in all its glory passing by mountains in Glacier National Park. It also shows that you can’t see much of those mountains, even from the dome car, because they are mostly obscured by trees.

Click image to download an 18.1-MB PDF of this timetable.

Though GN has shed many of its local trains by 1966, this timetable is still 28 pages long and still printed on a higher quality paper than used for most railroad timetables. The railway put this photo on the cover of only two of its timetables, for April 1966 and October 1966. The timetable for October 1965 through April 1966 used the dark blue cover with a drawing of the Western Star and Empire Builder passing one another. In 1967, GN began using Big Sky Blue on its timetable covers.

Great Northern 1965 Annual Report

The cover photo of this report is almost identical to a black-and-white photo on page 7 of the 1964 report. The two photos were obviously taken the same day as the piggy-back trailers are in exactly the same spot. The clouds have moved a bit while the photographer switched from color to black-and-white film (probably just switching cameras on the tripod). The man in the lower right of the photo is also in the 1964 photo having moved only slightly, showing that he was posing for the camera.

Click image to download an 14.1-MB PDF of this 28-page report.

Amazingly, considering the nationwide decline in passenger traffic elsewhere, passenger revenue grew again in 1965, as it had in 1964 and 1962. The report says the GN bought four coaches and a diner from another railroad that was discontinuing passenger trains and used them to replace older cars on the Great Northern’s roster. Still no photos of passenger trains anywhere in the report.

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Great Northern 1965 Route Map

Except for the cover and the colors, this along-the-way map is almost identical to the 1967 Big Sky Blue version presented here a little more than a year ago. The changes, of course, reflect the change in GN’s color scheme; the soft browns of the 1965 version are probably homage to the Empire Builder‘s Ranch Car.

Click image to download an 6.4-MB PDF of this brochure. Click here for an OCR version (6.0-MB).

I like blue, but the simplified Big Sky Blue color scheme failed to match the sophistication of the streamlined Empire Builder‘s orange-and-green colors, with yellow pinstripes (plus one white pinstripe) and the highly original Empire Builder font. Similarly, the cover of this 1965 map suggests a gorgeous trip through America’s adventure land, while the stark white 1967 cover failed to show anything but corporate branding with a slightly altered version (only the G in Great was changed) of the Helvetica font.

Glacier National Park in 1965

In 1960, Great Northern sold its Glacier Park hotel chain to Don Hummel, who happened to be mayor of Tucson at the time. Hummel also ran concessions in Lassen and Mount McKinley national parks.

Click image to download a 3.8-MB PDF of this brochure.

Hummel later wrote a book, Stealing the National Parks, complaining about efforts to “lock up” national park lands as wilderness and an apparent bias within the Park Service against concessioners. Hummel probably didn’t realize that the reason for the bias was not because the Park Service was run by wilderness advocates but because the agency was not allowed to keep any of the fees paid by concessioners to use the parks, so had no incentive to try to keep them happy.

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Great Northern Tours in 1965

This brochure offers four “suggested itineraries” for unescorted tours to Glacier Park, the Pacific Northwest, the Canadian Rockies, and/or California. The brochure unfolds to present eight panels of roughly 8″ by 9″; each tour gets two panels except the California tour, which gets only one. Strangely, the four tours are numbers 2 through 5.

Click image to download a 4.2-MB PDF of this brochure.

The brochure was accompanied by the following price list. The most expensive tour is a 14-day trip to Glacier, Banff, and Lake Louise for $418 (about $3,200 today), which includes transportation and lodging but not meals.

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Great Northern 1964 Annual Report

Even though the GP-30 was, in a sense, obsolete before it was produced, Great Northern features it again on the cover of its annual report, just as it did in 1963.

Click image to download an 14.1-MB PDF of this 28-page report.

Passenger revenues grew slightly from 1963. But the only photo of a passenger train in the report is the combined Western Star/Fast Mail on the inside back cover, and the only reason it is included is because it was the first train across a stretch of track that had been seriously damaged in a flood. It is clear that the railroad had given up on passenger trains financially even as it attempted to maintain a quality service aboard its remaining trains.

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Great Northern Summer 1964 & 1965 Timetables

These Great Northern timetables were issued in May of 1964 and 1965. The pattern seems to be that GN issued its summer timetables on the Sunday in May prior to Memorial Day weekend.

Click image to download a 18.0-MB PDF of this 28-page timetable.

There are very few changes between these timetables and the ones from 1963. Perhaps the biggest changes are that 30 minutes was added to the Empire Builder‘s schedule and an hour added to the Western Star‘s westbound schedule. All of the time added to the Builder and most added to the Star was east of Shelby, Montana.

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Great Northern 1963 Annual Report

Freight revenues grew in 1963 but passenger revenues began an irreversible decline after the boom from the 1962 Seattle World’s Fair. Despite the decline, Great Northern purchased nine “modern” coaches from other railroads to replace older coaches used on GN trains.

Click image to download an 17.4-MB PDF of this 28-page report.

The cover of this report shows four GP-30s, the latest locomotive from General Motors. This was a curious locomotive, as it was issued in haste by GM in response to General Electric’s 2,500-horsepower U25B. GM’s previous locomotive, the GP-20, only produced 2,000 horsepower. GM couldn’t manage to get 2,500 horsepower out of its existing engine, so it made one with just 2,250 horsepower.

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Great Northern 1963 Timetables

Here’s a complete set of Great Northern public timetables for 1963. They are so much alike that there’s no point in putting them into three separate posts.

Click image to download a 17.5-MB PDF of this 28-page timetable.

The first one is dated January 1, which seems sensible but in fact is a little unusual as most timetables I’ve seen don’t start on the first of a month, much less the first of the year.

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