Another COP Coffee Shop Menu

The inside of this 1958 menu is identical to yesterday’s coffee shop menus, but the cover photo shows a lake in Rocky Mountain National Park. Today, we’ll compare it with a City of Portland dome-dining car menu from the same period. Both, in fact, are dated August, 1958.

Click to download a 2.2-MB PDF of this menu.

I’ve already presented a dining car menu from that date featuring Mt. Hood on the cover. This one is identical on the inside, but features the Columbia River Gorge on the outside. Although Union Pacific’s tracks are on the near side of the river, they aren’t visible in the photo.

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City of Portland Coffee Shop Dinner Menus

Here are two coffee shop dinner menus from the City of Portland. While they have different covers, both are dated August, 1958 and have identical meal offerings.

Click to download a 2.1-MB PDF of this menu.

A comparison with yesterday’s City of Los Angeles menu reveals a few differences between the two trains. The table d’hôte items are the same, while the sandwich offerings are a little different. The “special steak dinner” that is inserted as a flyer into the COLA menu is incorporated directly into the City of Portland menu–perhaps Union Pacific decided that making it a flyer would make it seem “extra special.”

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City of Los Angeles Coffee Shop Dinner Menu

Here’s a dinner menu used on the same City of Los Angeles coffee shop car as yesterday’s lunch menu. The cover photo features Las Vegas, which is on the train’s route, while yesterday’s cover was of Mt. Rainier, which is quite a ways off the train’s route.

Click to download a 2.1-MB PDF of this menu.

The dinner menu has three table d’hôte selections that are quite different from the lunch menu: broiled salmon; fried chicken; and beef pot roast, all of which were $2.25 (about $18 in today’s money). Also unlike the lunch menu, paper clipped to this menu was a flyer advertising a “Special Steak Dinner” for $3.50 (close to $30 in today’s money). (The PDF includes a view of the menu with and without the paper-clipped flyer.) Otherwise, the sandwiches, salads, beverages, and other items are identical to the lunch menu.

City of Los Angeles Coffee Shop Lunch Menu

For most of its life, the City of Los Angeles included both coaches and sleeping cars. For a brief time in the mid-1950s, however, the Union Pacific tried to compete with the Super Chief by making the COLA an all-Pullman train, while the streamlined Challenger provided the coach service. In 1956, however, the railroad merged the two trains during the winter season (as Santa Fe would do with the Super Chief and El Capitan in 1958), and in 1958 the two were merged year round.

Click to download a 2.0-MB PDF of this menu.

This 1959 lunch menu was used in the coffee shop car of the merged trains–a car that would have been on the Challenger but not the City of Los Angeles before the two were merged. The menu includes three table d’hôte selections: fried shrimp; veal cutlet; and chicken a la king, for $1.60 each (around $14 in today’s money). Also on the menu are nine sandwiches, four salads, ice cream sundaes, milk shakes, a variety of alcoholic beverages, and numerous other items, which is pretty amazing considering the tiny kitchens in these coffee shop cars.

Famous Fleet of Streamliners

This September 15, 1941 brochure describes the Union Pacific’s “imposing fleet of superb Streamliners” as it stood just before the war. It includes the City of Salinas (M-10000), City of Portland, and two each City of Denver, City of Los Angeles, and City of San Francisco. Due to the limited number of trains, the the Los Angeles and San Francisco trains went only nine times a month and the City of Portland just five times a month.

Click image to download a 5.8-MB PDF of this brochure.

As the brochure also mentions, at this time the Union Pacific (with partners C&NW and SP) also ran daily heavyweight trains along most of the same routes: the Los Angeles Limited and San Francisco Overland Limited were all-Pullman trains; the Portland Rose was mainly Pullmans; and the Pacific Limited and Challengers served all three coastal cities with both coaches and Pullmans.

Golden State Dinner Menu

This dinner menu dates from 1965. Though a single card the same size as the 1966 breakfast menu, the smaller print indicates a wider variety of choices. Still, rivals City of Los Angeles and Super Chief/El Capitan continued to use folder menus for all meals right up until Amtrak’s takeover in 1971.

Click image to download a PDF of this menu.

Despite the large number of items, the menu is not particularly appetizing. For $5.75 (well over $40 in today’s money), the sirloin steak comes with soup, salad, potatoes, dessert, and beverage. Pretty much everything else is a la carte. Did anyone really order the box of sardines and a hard boiled egg for $1.35 (about $10 today)?

Golden State Lunch Menu

Like the breakfast menu, the Golden State‘s lunch menu by the mid-1960s had become a single card. This 1967 menu is on pink paper, instead of cream, and is slightly smaller than the 1966 breakfast menu.

Click image to download a PDF of this menu.

The menu’s selection is small: sausage and potatoes; filet of unspecified fish; hamburger; ham sandwich; cheese sandwich; and, creatively enough, “ham-and-cheese combination” sandwich. The hamburger, complete with potato chips, is $1.50, which is well over $10 today. At $2.75, or nearly $20 in today’s money, the fish filet is the most expensive thing on the menu–but that price also includes potato chips.

Golden State Breakfast Menu

This 1966 breakfast menu is all contained on one side of a single card, as opposed to the folders used for 1950s Golden State menus. At least the train has a menu: by April, 1964, passenger ridership had fallen so much that the Southern Pacific combined the Golden State and Sunset Limited west of El Paso.

Click image to download a PDF of this menu.

East of El Paso, the Sunset became known as the “Train from Hell” because Southern Pacific replaced the coffee shop car and diner with an infamous automat car where people could buy sandwiches and other foods in a large vending machine. Sunset passengers were no doubt relieved to have access to the Golden State diner west of El Paso.

Got a Ticket on the Rock Island Line

Passengers on the Golden State or another Rock Island train might get tickets in this ticket envelope, the gold color of which is possibly meant to be a reminder of the train name.

Click image to download a PDF of this envelope.

Inside the envelope, tickets could come in the form of this little book, which has three copies of the ticket: one for the agent, one for the conductor, and one for the passenger. Note that the back cover of the ticket book, shown here, has an image of La Mirada, the Golden Rocket observation car that was used on the Golden State. The image doesn’t hint of the orange paint that once adorned the top half of the car, suggesting the ticket book was printed after 1953, when that paint was removed.

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

The Golden State

This colorful brochure describes the Golden State, the streamlined train that replaced the heavyweight Golden State Limited in January, 1948. The inside back cover of the brochure is marked “1-53,” suggesting it was printed in 1953, the last year the train had the bright orange-red paint scheme. Partly because the paint faded to pink in the Southwest sunlight, the orange was removed and the train painted in Southern Pacific’s red stripe above the windows.

Click image to download a 6.5-MB PDF of this 16-page brochure.

As previously noted, the Golden State was originally going to be the Golden Rocket on a 39-3/4-hour schedule to compete with the City of Los Angeles and Super Chief/El Capitan between Chicago and Los Angeles. However, the ICC rule requiring advanced signaling for trains faster than 79 mph convinced the Southern Pacific to cancel the train and operate the Golden State on a 45-hour schedule.

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