SP 1940 Lunch Menu

Here’s a menu that was probably used on a Southern Pacific heavyweight train in December, 1940. The menu’s small size (5-1/2″x8-1/2″) was typical of SP’s menus other than those used on the City of San Francisco, which were sized the same as UP City train menus (typically about 6-3/4″x9-1/2″).


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

The lunch menu offers five table d’hôte entrées: fresh fish du jour, fried oysters, veal cutlet, lamb chops, and half a sautéd chicken, ranging in price from 90 cents to $1.35 ($15 to $22 today). The a la carte side also includes club steak, tenderloin steak, and sirloin steak, various cold meats, salads, and three or four sandwiches: chicken, club, and “ham, cheese or tongue” which makes me wonder if it was ham & cheese or tongue; ham & cheese or ham & tongue; or ham & cheese or tongue & cheese. The sirloin steak was the most expensive item at $1.50 ($25 today).

On-Board Stationery for the Argonaut

The Argonaut was a secondary train to the New Orleans-Los Angeles Sunset Limited that began operating in 1926. Discontinued in 1932, it was revived in 1936 and continued operating until 1958, after which it was a New Orleans-Houston train. A 1955 timetable shows that it left New Orleans about 12 hours earlier than the Sunset Limited and stopped at many more places, requiring 10 to 11 hours more to make it to Los Angeles.


Click image to download a PDF of this letterhead.

Some of the Argonaut’s heavyweight coaches may have been replaced with streamlined cars in the last years of the train. But this 1958 consist suggests that the sleeping cars, at least, were still heavyweights, as “8-5” and “10-1-2” sleepers designate heavyweight types. “8-5” means 8 sections and 5 double bedrooms; “10-1-2” means 10 sections, 1 compartment, and 2 double bedrooms.

On-Board Stationery for the Apache

The Apache was a joint Rock Island-Southern Pacific train that ran over the Golden State route between Chicago and Los Angeles from 1926 to 1938. A 1937 timetable posted by the Rock Island Technical Society actually shows three trains on that route: the all-Pullman Golden State Limited, the Californian, and the Apache. The Californian operated about an hour earlier than the Golden State Limited and must have been for coach and other budget passengers. The Apache operated about 11 hours before the Golden State.


Click image to download a PDF of this letterhead.

A 1948 timetable, also posted by the Rock Island Technical Society, shows a train named the Imperial leaving Chicago about 11 hours before the extra-fare Golden State, while a train named the Southwest Express leaves about four hours before the Golden State. So, for some reason, the name Imperial has replaced Apache. For what it’s worth, the Southwest Express has the same train numbers as the Californian, but the Imperial‘s numbers are not the same as the Apache.

Continue reading

See Twice as Much of the West

Southern Pacific sent its ticket and travel agents copies of this brochure, which reprints an ad that appeared in April, 1938 editions of Saturday Evening Post and Time magazines. The brochure notes that the railroad had previously had ads in these magazines for the Daylight and City of San Francisco streamliners. However, this latest ad portrays steam-powered trains that appear to be at least semi-streamlined but in fact are probably heavyweights.


Click image to download a 2.2-MB PDF of this brochure.

The “Twice as Much” slogan was also used in the “How to See Twice As Much of America” brochure that was featured here nearly ten months ago. However, that brochure was probably published a year or two after this ad. The ad itself promises to send readers who so request a brochure titled “How to See the Whole Pacific Coast.”

Grand Canyon Limited Menu

Santa Fe inaugurated the Grand Canyon Limited in 1929. Though the train received some streamlined cars in 1947, it continued to operate with a mixture of streamlined and heavyweight cars through most of its life. As of 1950, when this menu was used, it was the lowest-ranking of five Chicago-Los Angeles trains, the others being the Super Chief, El Capitan, Chief, and California Limited. Yet, unlike the last two trains, it continued to operate until Amtrak, though it lost its formal name in 1968.


Click image to download a 1.3-MB PDF of this 1950 dinner menu.

The Santa Fe was the only railroad to actually have its rail lines go into a national park, terminating at the railway’s famous El Tovar Hotel, on the rim of the Grand Canyon. But despite the name, the Grand Canyon Limited didn’t go to the Grand Canyon. Instead, along with Santa Fe’s other trains except the Super Chief, it stopped at Williams, Arizona, where passengers could catch a connecting train or motor coach to El Tovar. The connection wasn’t very convenient: in 1950, when this menu was used, the westbound Grand Canyon Limited arrived at Williams at 10:40 pm and the Santa Fe train to the park left at 4:15 am.

Continue reading

On-Board Stationery for The Ranger

Starting in 1916, The Ranger was Santa Fe’s train between Chicago and Galveston, Texas, the same route as the streamlined Texas Chief. In the busy years during and right after the war, The Ranger might include three or four coaches and five or six sleepers. But after the Texas Chief began operating in 1948, The Ranger was relegated to a secondary role with just two coaches, two sleepers, and a lot of head-end baggage, mail, and express cars.


Click image to download a PDF of this letterhead. Click here to download a PDF of the matching envelope.

For most of the 1950s, The Ranger only went from Kansas City to Galveston, and after 1957 from Kansas City to Houston. The train was terminated in 1960, so this stationery must be from that year or earlier. Never streamlined, the photo below shows the train sometime before the Texas Chief replaced it as the premiere train on that route.

Continue reading

The Scout

In the pre-streamlined era, the Santa Fe Railway ran numerous named passenger trains between Chicago and Los Angeles, including the Los Angeles Limited (a name later also used by the Union Pacific); the California Limited; the Chief (which started in 1926 and wasn’t streamlined until 1938); the El Tovar; the Grand Canyon Limited; the Hopi; and the Navaho (which continued from LA to San Francisco). Just as the El Capitan was the Santa Fe’s economy streamlined train, the Scout was the Santa Fe’s economy heavyweight train.


Click image to download a 4.7-MB PDF of this 20-page brochure.

Inaugurated in 1916, the Scout consisted of coaches and tourist-sleepers, whose berths were slightly less comfortable and more packed than regular Pullman sections. By 1941, when this brochure was issued, at least some of the cars–probably the coaches–were streamlined, but the sleeping cars were probably still heavyweights.

Continue reading

The Great Big Baked Potato

For more than three decades, the Great Big Baked Potato was a mainstay of Northern Pacific advertising. Many of the ads featured the same image of a potato on a plate (Garnet pattern of China), with a spoon on the right and a large pat of butter on the left.


Click to download a 355-KB PDF of this card advertising the Great Big Baked Potato.

The envelope below has the same image as the card above. This doesn’t appear to be on-board stationery but instead appears to have been used by Hazen Titus, who was made head of NP’s dining car department in 1908. Shortly after obtaining this position, Titus was on board the North Coast Limited when he overhead two Washington state farmers lament the fact that the potatoes they grew were so big there was no market for them, as people thought they were too big to serve. Titus soon ordered all they could grow.

Continue reading

North Coast Limited Menu

This lunch menu doesn’t have a date, but as previously noted it would have to be from the late 1930s when the Northern Pacific had roller bearings on its passenger locomotives. The rather spectacular pattern on the menu cover wraps around the back, which also has a map and advertisement for the train. Unfortunately, my collection doesn’t include this menu, which is from the New York Public Library collection.


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

The menu itself offers seven table d’hôte entrées, including halibut, shrimp creole, ham, veal cutlets, lamb chops, broiled chicken, and “NP Special Assortment Cold Meats,” ranging in price from 90 cents to $1.15 (roughly $15 to $20 today), including soup, vegetables, salad, rolls, dessert, and beverage. The a la carte menu has many of the same entrées along with broiled salmon, tenderloin steak, spaghetti, and several more, as well as five soups, fourteen sandwiches, eight salads, eleven desserts, and eight fruits.

Air-Conditioned NCL Stationery

This piece of on-board stationery advertises “the air-conditioned North Coast Limited” with the added statement, “For 1000 miles-companion of mountains.” While Great Northern would later advertise that the Great Domed Empire Builder passed “more scenic miles,” Northern Pacific fans would be quick to point out that the NP had to cross several more mountain ranges and spent more time in the mountains than the GN. Of course, that also meant that NP locomotives had to pull up more grades and around more curves than the GN.


Click image to download a PDF of this letterhead.

The NP logo with the “Yellowstone Park Line” subhead is also notable for simply reading “Northern Pacific.” This logo would be replaced by “Northern Pacific Railway” in the streamlined era.