Santa Fe Along Your Way

Some railroads published along-the-way guides for each major route. This massive, 44-page brochure is meant to work for any and all Santa Fe passenger trains. This edition dates from 1945, but the brochure was republished many times over the years.

Click image to download a 39-MB PDF of this 44-page brochure.

The front cover features General Motors’ elegant E1 locomotive pulling a shiny, stainless-steel train, probably the Super Chief as the El Capitan of that time had fewer cars. A later edition has an F-3 locomotive leading a train in the Albuquerque station; I have that one and will probably post it later. An earlier edition doesn’t have a train on the cover; just a monochrome adobe mission on the front and the Grand Canyon on the back.

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City of Los Angeles Lunch Menu

The Los Angeles train terminal, the last major train station built in the United States, is featured on the cover of this heavily edited lunch menu. The menu itself looks like it was being modified for future editions: one of the major “luncheon suggestions” is changed from “fresh shrimp Louis” to “chopped smoked ham with scrambled eggs,” and “hot or cold” is scratched out wherever it is used by “coffee” or “tea.”

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

At the top of the menu, someone has written “rush today” and “800/Job 1381.” So it appears that the commissary has ordered some minor changes to the standard lunch menu.

Columbia Gorge Menu

This streamlined City of Portland menu features the Columbia Gorge from Crown Point, a beautiful spot on the old Columbia River Highway. The “new” highway 30, a two-lane forerunner of today’s Interstate 84, is visible along the river below, but the Union Pacific’s tracks, which hug the sheer cliffs on the south side of gorge, are not. The interior breakfast menu is identical to the last two menus.

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

The little plume of smoke in the distance is from a sawmill at Bridal Veil Falls. The mill and town site is now owned by the Trust for Public Lands, which demolished most of the buildings over the protests of historic preservationists.

Mt. Hood Menu

Another City of Portland menu from 1954 shows Mt. Hood with some fall colors in the foreground. The inside breakfast menu is identical to yesterday’s.

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

Update: I recently realized that UP often put the train numbers of the trains the menus were used on in the lower right corner with the menu date. In this case, the numbers say “11 & 12,” which refers to the Idahoan, a heavyweight train that went from Omaha to Portland. The 1951 timetable says the train had standard sleepers and coaches, with a diner and a club lounge added west of North Platte.

Streamliner City of Portland Menu

Here’s a menu used on the streamlined City of Portland that featured the train’s namesake city on the cover. The city in this pre-1954 view looks much different from today, when there are more and taller skyscrapers and bridges across the Willamette River. But Mt. Hood still looms over the city from the east and Mt. Tabor, in the middle ground of this photo, is still a prominent park.

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

The menu itself is a breakfast menu with an incredible number of choices, ranging from Kadota figs for 40 cents (about $3.50 in today’s dollars) to lamb chops (with fruit or cereal, bread, and beverage) for $2.35 (about $20 in today’s dollars). French toast, griddle cakes, ten kinds of cereal, omelets, and a variety of combinations are all also on the menu.

On Board the Western Star

Just like on the Empire Builder, the Great Northern offered postcards and stationery to passengers on the Western Star. This unused postcard shows Blackfeet Indians greeting Western Star passengers at Glacier National Park.

Click image to download a PDF of the front and back of this postcard.

This postcard shows the Western Star along the Flathead River. The photo is credited to Bob and Ira Spring, twin brothers who wrote more than 60 books about Northwest hiking trails and wilderness. Postmarked in 1958, the person who used this postcard says he “saw place where new all continuous welded rail is being installed in new high speed curves. . . . Train is nice as always.”

Click image to download a PDF of the front and back of this postcard.

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Coffee Shop Menu

The Western Star’s coffee shop only had 20 seats, which didn’t allow for many customers over the course of a day. But the menu offered almost as many items as the a la carte side of the dining car menu, including fourteen sandwiches, three salads, ten desserts, five kinds of bread (including doughnuts), and coffee, tea, milk, and milkshakes. Curiously, soft drinks are not on the menu.

Click image to download a 0.5-MB PDF of this one-page menu. (The back was blank and so is not included in the PDF.)

This 1957 menu is nicely decorated in three colors with some Indian-like designs at the top, an image of Glacier Park beargrass in the lower half, and the GN and Western Star logos at the bottom. The most expensive thing on the menu, a club sandwich, is $0.95, about $7.75 in today’s money.

Buffalo Hunt

Today’s Western Star menu features Buffalo Hunt on the cover, the same painting that was on the cover of the Empire Builder menu I previously posted. Although this dinner menu dates from 1953, it is different from the 1953 dinner menu I posted two days ago.

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

While the previous menu offered five table d’hote selections, this one actually has eleven: one, described simply as “steak,” at $4.25; four (fish, fried chicken, prime rib, or ham) priced at $2.75; four (fish, lamb stew, omelet, cold meats) priced at $1.80; and two (broiled chicken or fish) priced at $2.00. The a la carte side is roughly similar to, but not exactly the same as, the previous dinner menu.

In today’s world of tilapia, orange roughy, swordfish, five varieties of salmon, and numerous other species available in fine restaurants and supermarkets, it is interesting that all these menus just refer to fish. Broiled fish, fried fish, fillet of fresh fish, but just fish.

Desperate Stand

Along with the observation cars with Charles Russell paintings, the Western Star apparently inherited the Empire Builder’s Charles Russell menus. There were originally five observation cars in the series, with one more added for the Western Star, so there must have been six paintings and six menus, but I’ve so far only identified four: Desperate Stand, Buffalo Hunt, Intercepted Wagon Train, and Indian Warfare. Evidence in the Minnesota Historical Society suggests that the fifth was Indian Women Moving, but I have no idea about the sixth.

Click image to download a 2.8-MB PDF of this menu.

Here, Desperate Stand is on the cover of a 1954 lunch menu that features “G.N. Chicken Pie,” fried fish, beef pot roast, “sliced cold fowl,” and “chef’s suggestion” on the table d’hote side. For $1.75 to $2.00 (about $14 to $16 in today’s dollars), these meals come with potatoes, corn, bread, dessert, and coffee, tea, milk, or buttermilk.

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