Panoramic Views

The Denver & Rio Grande Western Railroad justifiably called itself “the scenic line of the world,” but its main east-west route from Pueblo to Salt Lake City by-passed Denver and lacked convenient connections with Chicago. Meanwhile, the Denver & Salt Lake Railroad had (with help from taxpayers in the counties the railroad served) built a 6.2-mile tunnel through the Rockies west of Denver, but completed its line only as far as Craig, Colorado.


Click image to download an 8.7-MB PDF of this colorful brochure.

In 1934, the D&RGW completed a line connecting its railroad with the Moffat Tunnel route, and eventually acquired control of the D&SL. This cut 175 miles off the journey from Denver to Salt Lake and allowed the Rio Grande to offer two scenic routes through the Rockies: one via Pueblo and the Royal Gorge of the Arkansas River and the other via Denver and the Moffat Tunnel. From 1934 to 1939, the main passenger train on the Royal Gorge Route was the Scenic Limited while the main train on the Moffat Tunnel Route was the Panoramic. From 1924 to 1931, a train of that name had operated on the Royal Gorge route, but was resurrected on the Moffat Tunnel route when that was opened up.

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Portland Rose Bridge Score Pad

This score pad uses the slogan, “A triumph of train comfort,” suggesting that UP’s marketing department didn’t alway keep its slogans straight. It probably dates from the early 1950s, as the size and design is identical to the Great Northern score pad from that era. The only differences are the parts relating to the individual railroads and trains.


Click image to download a 1.0-MB PDF of this score pad.

Yesterday I showed a postcard showing the interior of the Portland Rose dining car that I downloaded from Wikimedia. For the sake of completeness, here is another Wikimedia card, no doubt from the same ebay dealer, showing the interior of the Portland Rose club car, complete with painted roses on the walls and roses woven into the carpet and the upholstery of at least one chair.

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A Triumph in Train Comfort

For the Portland Rose, Union Pacific adopted the rather meaningless slogan, “A triumph in train comfort” (or sometimes “A triumph of train comfort”). The former appears here on a piece of on-board stationery for the train. This stationery includes the names of the operating railroads, Chicago & North Western and Union Pacific, which means that it predates October, 1955, when the Milwaukee Road took over the handling of UP trains from Omaha to Chicago.


Click image to download a PDF of this letterhead.

Repeating the “triumph in train comfort” theme, this postcard (downloaded from wikimedia which got it from an ebay dealer) shows the interior of the Portland Rose‘s air-conditioned dining car, complete with roses on the tables, paintings of roses on the walls and clerestory, and images of roses in the carpet. It is clearly a heavyweight diner, yet the postcard must date from after 1936, when UP began air conditioning its trains.

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The Portland Rose

According to the Union Pacific Railroad, the Portland Rose entered service on September 12, 1930, and was the premiere train on the Portland route, though not quite the equivalent of the all-Pullman Overland Limited or Los Angeles Limited (the latter of which lost its all-Pullman status about the same time as the Portland Rose was introduced). By the time this brochure was issued in January, 1941, the Rose was still the premiere daily train, but much of its cachet had been lost to the City of Portland when that train began running every third day in 1935.


Click image to download a 3.9-MB PDF of this 20-page brochure.

While the Los Angeles Limited was terminated in 1954 and the Overland Limited in 1956 (at least on the Union Pacific; the SP still used the name for several more years), the name Portland Rose lasted right up until Amtrak. However, the train did not operate as a single train from Chicago to Portland; instead, when the City of Portland began daily service in 1947, the Rose went only from Denver to Portland, picking up cars from Chicago from the Pacific Limited in Green River, Wyoming. In 1954, UP extended the train to Kansas City, replacing a previous Kansas City-Denver train called the Pony Express.

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Los Angeles Limited 1948 Breakfast Menu

Four years after yesterday’s menu, this Los Angeles Limited menu conforms to UP’s usual photo style. Boulder Dam (originally and now once again called Hoover Dam). Completed with great fanfare in 1936, Boulder Dam was advertised by Union Pacific as a motorcoach side trip for Los Angeles Limited passengers.


Click image to download a 1.8-MB PDF of this menu.

This breakfast menu offers seven different “select breakfasts” with fruit or cereal, bread, and beverage. Diners had the option of ten fruits or fruit juices and eleven hot or cold cereals. Such a select breakfast of bacon, eggs, and potatoes cost $1.50, or about $18 today. More budget-minded passengers could have fruit or cereal, toast or rolls, and a beverage for half that price.

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Choo Choo Choo to Idaho

In 1950, MGM released a musical called the The Duchess of Idaho. Set mostly in Sun Valley, the romantic comedy starred swimmer Esther Williams (who skied as well as swam in the movie) and happy-go-lucky Van Johnson. This June 17, 1950 menu from the Los Angeles Limited shows Johnson and Williams cross-advertising the movie and Sun Valley.


Click image to download a 0.9-MB PDF of this menu.

The movie seems to be MGM’s response to the 1941 20th Century Fox musical, Sun Valley Serenade. The latter movie premiered Chattanooga Choo Choo, the first song ever to sell more than a million records. The song below, Choo Choo Choo to Idaho was nowhere near as successful, for good reason, but it has numerous nostalgic rail references.

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Los Angeles Limited 1942 Dinner Menu

This June 24, 1942 menu departs from the Union Pacific’s usual photo format, perhaps to distinguish the train from its streamlined counterpart. The New York Public Library has a breakfast menu with the same cover dated one month earlier. The interior of both editions feature a sketch of Mission Santa Barbara along the centerfold. The dinner menu shown here has four table d’hôte meals–salmon, sirloin, chicken pot pie, and ham–ranging in price from $1.10 to $1.40 (about $16 to $20 today). In a reversal from today, the salmon is the least expensive and the chicken pot pie the most.


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

Early ads for for the Los Angeles Limited include the logo of the “Salt Lake Route,” shorthand for the Los Angeles and Salt Lake Railroad, which was half owned by the Union Pacific until 1921, when UP acquired full control of the line.

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Los Angeles Limited 1929 Dinner Menu

Before Union Pacific had its wrap-around photo menus, it had photo menus such as this March, 1929 menu featuring Bryce Canyon National Monument. Someone must have forgotten to tell the printers that Bryce was made into a national park in 1928.


Click image to download a 3.3-MB PDF of this menu.

The menu was for the Los Angeles Limited, which went near the park on its journey from Chicago to Los Angeles via Salt Lake City. Union Pacific inaugurated the train in 1905 as the Los Angeles version of the Overland Limited. The train was all Pullmans until about 1930, when the Depression led UP to add coaches. Still, it was the premiere train on the route until the 1936 introduction of the City of Los Angeles.

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Golden Gate Exposition Ad

Like a previous Southern Pacific ad, this is actually a brochure sent out to ticket and travel agents that consists mainly of a two-page ad that must have appeared in Saturday Evening Post or other magazines. The ad encourages people to see twice as much of the West by riding Southern Pacific to and from the “San Francisco World’s Fair.”


Click image to download a 1.4-MB PDF of this brochure.

Unlike the previous ad, this one doesn’t have a built-in cover letter describing where the ad was placed and offering suggestions to agents on how to promote SP trains. Instead, the back is blank save for a small logo of the Golden Gate Exposition, held on San Francisco Bay’s Treasure Island, in 1940.

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Mission Stationery and Menu

One of the many Southern Pacific posters that used paintings by California artist Maurice Logan centered around an image of Mission Santa Barbara. The SP used this image, which was painted around 1930, in several other places as well.

First is a piece of on-board stationery that included a color image of the mission. I only have the envelope but presumably there were letterheads that had the same image.


Click image to download a PDF of this envelope.

I do have a piece of letterhead that has a similar image but in a sepia tone. This not only has the addition of a palm tree, it shows the mission from a slightly different angle so may only have been patterned after, rather than directly based on, Logan’s painting.


Click image to download a PDF of this letterhead.

Finally, the menu below from the 1937 Pacific Limited has the same palm-tree-and-mission image on its cover. This particular menu is from the New York Public Library. Note that the words “Dinner Select” are actually on the inside of the menu, but that the front cover is slightly smaller than the back so the words appear when the menu is folded.


Click image to download a 0.8-MB PDF of this menu.

The menu has four main entrées–sea bass, New England boiled dinner, chicken fricasee, and broiled steak–that appear on both the a la carte and table d˙hote sides. The table d’hôte meals are 15 cents (about $2.50 today) more than the a la carte, except for the sea bass which was just a nickel more–a good deal considering the table d’hôte comes with soup, potato, bread, dessert, and beverage. For comparison, 50 cents in 1937 is about $8 today.