The Post-War Denver Zephyr

I’ve previously presented brochures for two incarnations of the Denver Zephyr: the 1936 articulated train pulled by shovel-nosed Diesels and the 1956 domeliner pulled by E-8 or E-9 locomotives. This flyer presents a transition stage: the 1936 train but with E-8 locomotives instead of the shovel-nose locomotives that came with the 1936 train.

Notice that this flyer advertises that the articulated train provides “smoother riding”–a claim quickly dropped when the 1956 vista-dome Denver Zephyr had no articulated cars. Click image to download a 2.3-MB PDF of this two-page flyer.

Curiously, the back of this brochure was printed upside down relative to the front. To save readers time in flipping pages, the PDF shows both sides upside up.

Postcards by Fred Harvey

The Santa Fe was unusual if not unique in that–at least until 1963–it didn’t operate its own dining cars. Instead, it contracted them out to Fred Harvey, who also operated restaurants in many Santa Fe train stations and hotels in many Santa Fe destinations.

This postcard of Indians selling jewelry to tourists at the Albuquerque train station dates from before the streamlined era. The back of the card notes that all Santa Fe trains stop in Albuquerque for 25 to 30 minutes, but the streamlined trains stopped for only five minutes.

Harvey started the nation’s first restaurant chain in 1875 with eating houses that were soon associated with Santa Fe trains. In 1893, Harvey began operating dining cars on the Santa Fe’s California Limited.

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Away from It All on the 20th Century Limited

This March 10, 1954 menu offers whitefish meuniere, shrimp, capon, veal steak, roast ribs, and charcoal broiled sirloin steak. Prices for complete meals range from $3.90 ($33 in today’s dollars) to $5.85 ($49 today). For those with more modest tastes, there is also a club sandwich for $2 ($17 today), and if you want a glass of milk with that, it is an extra 25 cents ($2 today).

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

The back of the menu invites passengers to watch the passing lights from their rooms–as an overnight train, the 20th Century didn’t offer a lot of scenic viewing opportunities–or to visit one of the train’s two lounge cars once they were done with dinner in the diner.

Pennsyliners Ticket Envelope

The Pennsylvania considered itself the “standard railroad of the world,” so it didn’t stoop to having the same streamliners as other railroads; instead, it had “Pennsyliners.” At least, that what this 1954 ticket envelope says.

Click image to download a PDF of this envelope.

By this date, the Pennsylvania was also advertising that it relied on “electric power all the way.” Of course, the only trains it had that were powered directly by electricity were between New York and Washington and Philadelphia and Harrisburg. Elsewhere its trains were headed by Diesels–but they were Diesel-electric locomotives.

Illinois Central Ticket Envelope

This undated ticket envelope advertises six streamliners: the all-coach City of New Orleans and all-Pullman Panama Limited, both Chicago-New Orleans; the City of Miami, which went Chicago-Birmingham on the Illinois Central and on to Florida on other roads; the Daylight and Green Diamond, both Chicago-St. Louis; and the Chicago-Iowa Land o’ Corn. By this time, the Green Diamond was no longer green but painted the same chocolate brown as other Illinois Central streamliners.

Click image to download a PDF of this envelope.

Northern Pacific Railway Coaster

This coaster, if that is what it is, is very different from the others shown here. For one thing, instead of having printing in ink, it is embossed with the flowers and Northern Pacific logo.

Click image to download a PDF of this coaster or doily.

Second, it is much larger: 5 inches in diameter instead of 3-1/4. What kind of drinks are served in glasses large enough to need that big of a coaster? More likely, it is not really a coaster but a doily placed under ice cream and other dishes in the dining car.

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The Empress of France Menu

As the “world’s greatest travel company,” Canadian Pacific had steamships and airplanes as well as trains and it happily cross-advertised between these modes. This menu from the steamship Empress of France features the Chesley Bonestell illustration of the Canadian on the front cover, with a description of the train on the back.

Aside from being in French rather than English, menus aboard steamships appear different from those aboard trains. Food is included in the price of travel, so passengers don’t have to choose between a la carte and table d’ôte–they get all they want. Entrées include fillet of haddock, pork tenderloin, and prime rib.

Go East via Glacier National Park

Since the bulk of the population is in the East and the bulk of the nation’s scenic beauty is in the West, most advertising by western railroads was aimed at eastern audiences. But sometimes westerners had to go east, so the the Great Northern, like the Northern Pacific, had a few brochures aimed at them.

Click image to download a 5.3-MB PDF of this brochure.

I don’t see a date on this brochure but it is from after 1955 when the Empire Builder got its domes. It has the same number of panels as the 1956 Western Star brochure, but they are arranged differently: instead of unfolding four across and two high, Go East simply unfolds into one long, eight-panel-wide brochure.

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Popular Science Rides the Hi-Level Santa Fe Cars

There is an intriguing pattern in the seven trains introduced in 1956. Four were outright failures, being pulled from service after less than two years and, at best, run as lowly commuter trains. One, the Santa Fe hi-level, was a great success in the sense that it led to repeat orders from Santa Fe and eventually inspired the Amtrak Superliners. Two more were partial successes in that they continued to serve for at least a decade after their 1956 introduction.

This advertisement features Budd’s three entries into the 1956 “new trains” competition, all of which were successful relative to the Pullman, ACF, and General Motors entries. Click image for a much larger (4.3-MB) view.

All of the failures were articulated; the successes were not. The failures used two-wheel trucks, and approached just one axle per car; the successes used two four-wheel trucks per car. Most notably, all three successful trains were built by Budd.

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The Roger Williams

The last of Patrick McGinnis’ three trains was the Roger Williams, which entered service between Boston and Washington on April 28, 1957. Budd built the train by modifying its RDCs into a six-car train that had controls only in the first and last cars.

It seems to be easier to find photos of the Roger Williams as it lasted longer in service on the New Haven. This photo was taken, probably in 1957 or 1958, at the New Haven, Connecticut train station. Click image for a larger view.

The first and last cars also had a faring to make them appear streamlined. As a concession to the fad for trains with a low center of gravity, Budd lowered the floor of the Roger Williams by seven inches below that of a standard RDC. To allow the trains to reach 110 mph, each car had two 300-hp engines instead of the 275-hp engines that came in other RDCs.

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