Mt. Rainier and Seattle

The Puget Sound was the ultimate western destination for Great Northern rail travelers, so it is appropriate that this brochure featured the region. Eleven color photos, a color drawing, and a map of the area provide an attractive introduction to the region.

Click image to download a 1.9-MB PDF of this brochure.

Four of the brochure’s twelve panels deal with Mt. Rainier, the fifth-highest mountain in the contiguous 48 states. Three panels cover Seattle and one more briefly describes Tacoma. Unlike the Go East and Glacier tiny brochures presented here, this one doesn’t have a date, but the presence of the Space Needle on the cover indicates that it was published after 1962, the year of the Seattle World’s Fair.

Tiny but Glorious Glacier Park Brochure

One advantage of the Great Northern’s tiny brochures was that travelers could pick the destinations that interested them instead of picking up a “Go East” brochure and finding that only a quarter of the brochure actually dealt with eastern destinations. Prospective Great Northern passengers interested in Glacier Park could take this little brochure, filled with eleven enticing color photos, two color drawings, and a map of the park.

Click image to download a 1.7-MB PDF of this brochure.

Fishing, hiking, boating, and Glacier Park’s famous red jammer tour buses are all featured in the brochure. The 1960 brochure also pictures three of the Glacier Park hotels that were then owned by the Great Northern. At the end of the 1960 season, the railway sold the hotels, but fortunately successor operators have done a good job of managing the hotels and remembering their heritage.

Go East — Go Great Northern

In 1960, less than five years after putting out a large brochure urging travelers to “Go East via Glacier National Park,” the Great Northern published this little brochure also aimed at travelers to the east. Although less than a third of the size of the earlier brochure, this one has eleven color photos of eastern destinations, compared with just six black-and-white photos (and two color drawings) of eastern cities in the earlier brochure.

Click image to download a 1.5-MB PDF of this brochure.

This is one of at least a dozen tiny brochures issued by the Great Northern in 1960 and 1961. Each of the twelve panels on these brochures is smaller than 2.9″x5.5″, compared with the sixteen 4″x9″ panels on older brochures such as the previous Go East one. The newer brochures have all color photos, yet the small size forced railway marketers to leave out important information.

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Another 1969 CZ Dinner Menu

Here’s a companion to yesterday’s menu, with the same date but featuring a photo of the train in the Colorado Rockies instead of the Feather River Canyon. Unfortunately, I had this menu in a frame for many years and some of the color has faded. Like the 1955 menu shown here previously, this one unfolds vertically.

Click image to download a 7.7-MB PDF of this menu.

Also like the 1955 menu, this one features Rocky Mountain trout on the menu. The fact that trout is on the menu with the Colorado scene on the cover while halibut is on the menu with the California scene on the cover lends support to the notion that this menu was used by the Rio Grande commissary while the other was used by the Western Pacific commissary. If so, what was on the cover of menus used by the Burlington commissary?

Other entrées on this menu include roast turkey; beef stroganoff; lamb chops; sirloin steak (on the table d’hôte side); and ham and eggs (on the a la carte side). Both today’s and yesterday’s menus also offer “plate dinners” consisting of an entrée with juice; rolls; whipped potatoes; vegetable; ice cream; and beverage. The entrées on the Colorado menu were cube steak or beef ragout; the California menu had Salisbury steak or chicken pot pie. At $3.60 (nearly $23 today), this was less than any of the table d’hôte meals, but doesn’t seem very attractive compared with a baked chicken or roast turkey dinner for just 40 cents more.

1969 California Zephyr Dinner Menu

From the mid-50s through the mid-60s, California Zephyr menus were pretty plain, but in the late ’60s the railroads began featuring photos of the train itself on brilliant yellow covers. This menu, dated October, 1969, spotlights the Cal Zephyr on the North Fork Feather River bridge, which when built was considered the longest reinforced concrete arched railroad structure in the U.S. This bridge had been built (at taxpayer expense) in about 1961 as part of a line relocation associated with the construction of Oroville Dam.

Click image to download a 7.7-MB PDF of this menu.

Both the a la carte and table d’hôte sides of the menu had five entrées, four of which were common to both: broiled halibut; baked chicken; pork chops; and roast sirloin. The fifth entrée on the a la carte side was ham and eggs, while on the table d’hôte side it was broiled sirloin steak. The a la carte entrées ranged from $3.50 to $4 (about $22 to $25 today). Going table d’hôte added a mere 50 cents to the price, for which patrons received soup or juice; potato; vegetable; dessert; and beverage, items which, if purchased separately, would cost more than $2. The most expensive meal, the sirloin steak, was $5.95, or more than $37 today.

1969 California Zephyr Breakfast Menu

Although dated just nine months after yesterday’s menu, and printed on the same card stock, this menu is greatly abbreviated. It offers just three combinations: cereal or waffle with juice, bread, and beverage or just the juice, bread and beverage. The only hot items on the a la carte portion are coffee, hot chocolate, toast, toasted (i.e., frozen) waffle, and oatmeal.

Click image to download a PDF of this menu.

Had the service in the famous California Zephyr dining cars fallen to this in the last few months before it was discontinued? Probably not. The menu is supposed to be the “buffet offering,” so I suspect this was the menu given to passengers having breakfast in the Cable Car Room, while the full diner still offered such things as ham and eggs, freshly made French toast, and possibly even breakfast steaks.

1968 California Zephyr Breakfast Menu

Like the lunch menus of the 1960s, breakfast menus on the California Zephyr were printed on cards. Here is a blank card featuring the Zephyr logo. No doubt the commissaries printed thousands of these blanks, and later printed the menus themselves in a second printing monthly or quarterly. At 6-1/2″x10-1/2″, the breakfast cards are slightly smaller than the lunch cards, which are 8-3/8″x11″.

Click image to download this menu blank.

Here’s a breakfast menu dated October, 1968, the same as yesterday’s lunch menu. The breakfast menu offers “club breakfasts” that include juice, fruit, or cereal; bread; and a beverage along with one of seven entrées (plus an eighth one with no entrée). The entrées range from pancakes or French toast to a breakfast steak and eggs. The a la carte portion includes only three entrées, so someone who wants a breakfast steak or shired eggs has to order a complete meal.

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1968 California Zephyr Lunch Menu

Four years after yesterday’s menu and choices have been reduced a bit further. There are only two sandwich platters with dessert and beverage, instead of five, and there are no fish entrées on the a la carte menu. However, an abbreviated table d’hôte menu has been added featuring filet of fish, turkey fricassee, or Salisbury steak with soup; bread; vegetables; dessert; and beverage.

Click image to download a PDF of this menu.

Prices remain high on this October, 1968 menu. The Salisbury steak is $2.95, or about $20 in today’s money. Lamb chops and French fries are $3.85, more than $25 today. Adding soup, beverage, and dessert to those lamb chops could bring the total to $5.15, nearly $35 today).

Myron Hayden has posted a very similar menu dated four months later on WaterLevel.com. Prices are the same, but there are some slight differences in the sandwich, dessert, and children’s portions of the menus.

1964 California Zephyr Lunch Menu

Yesterday’s California Zephyr lunch menu was a folder, but by the early 1960s lunch menus were merely a single card. The table d’hôte side had been replaced by “combinations” that consisted of a beverage, dessert, and one of five sandwiches, all for $2.20 (about $17 today). There was also a “sandwich plate” consisting of soup or fruit cup; hot roast beef sandwich; whipped potatoes; dessert; and beverage for $2.50 (about $19 today).

Click image to download a PDF of this menu.

The more substantial fare was in the a la carte portion of the menu, and included lamb chop; pork chops; ham and eggs; cold salmon; and fillet of unspecified fish, all of which come with some sort of potato. Adding soup, dessert, and beverage to the meal would bring the total price as high as $4 (about $30 today). In short, not only is the menu more limited, after adjusting for inflation the prices are a lot higher than in 1951.

1951 California Zephyr Lunch Menu

Here’s a California Zephyr lunch menu dated March, 1951, when the train was just two years old. The cover shows the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge, but the menu inside looks nothing like what I would expect from a fine, Bay Area restaurant.

Click image to download a 1.2-MB PDF of this menu.

Entrées on both the a la carte and table d’hôte sides of the menu include Finnan haddie, ox joints a la jardiniere (roast ox with spring vegetables), and veal chops–fare more likely to be found in the gritty industrial Northeast than in the West. We know that, by 1955, the train’s dining car would offer the soon-to-be iconic Rocky Mountain trout instead of haddock and leg of lamb instead of ox joints, though veal chops would remain on the menu. Perhaps this menu was put together by the Burlington commissary, while menus with trout were from the Rio Grande commissary and menus with seafood were from the Western Pacific commissary.

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