This timetable is down to eight pages, but Missouri Pacific still had plenty of passenger trains in 1964. In fact, it had two to four daily trains on many routes. St. Louis-Kansas City had four trains a day, one of which continued to Pueblo where it met the Rio Grande to Salt Lake and San Francisco. St. Louis-Ft. Worth had three a day, two of which went on to El Paso where they met the Southern Pacific to Los Angeles. New Orleans-Ft. Worth had two a day, which merged with the St. Louis trains to go to El Paso.
Click image to download a 5.0-MB PDF of this timetable.
Texarkana-San Antonio had two a day, one of which went on to Laredo where it met NdeM’s Aztec Eagle to Mexico City. New Orleans-Houston also had two a day, while Kansas City-Omaha, Memphis-Little Rock, Little Rock-Alexandria, Houston-Palestine, and Wichita-Geneseo (the latter being on the Kansas City-Pueblo line) each had one a day. Continue reading
By the time of this timetable, Missouri Pacific had replaced the Scenic Limited with the Colorado Eagle, which connected with Rio Grande’s Royal Gorge train in Colorado Springs. Other streamlined trains in this timetable include the St. Louis-Omaha Missouri River Eagle and Memphis-Tallulah Delta Eagle. The Sunshine Special survived as a heavyweight train because MP hadn’t been able to acquire enough equipment to streamline it before the war.
Click image to download a 27.7-MB PDF of this 36-page timetable.
While most streamlined trains tended to operate as a unit from origin to destination, heavyweight trains often had cars added or detached at many cities along the journey. The Sunshine Special out of St. Louis, for example, had cars going to Corpus Christi, Mission, Mexico City, San Antonio, Ft. Worth, El Paso, Los Angeles, El Dorado, Shreveport, Houston, Brownsville, Galveston, St. Charles, and Alexandria.
The colorful cover of this 68-page guide shows the Royal Gorge, Moffat Tunnel, and Colorado Rockies juxtaposed with Mexico, ocean beaches, and a major city with skyscrapers too numerous to be Denver in the 1930s. The equally colorful map on the back shows Missouri Pacific trains connecting St. Louis with San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Mexico City, even though MP tracks came nowhere near any of those cities.
Click image to download a 62.7-MB PDF of this booklet.
Inside, five pages describe Missouri Pacific’s “fleet of air-conditioned trains,” focusing on the Sunshine Special (which, according to the map, went to L.A. and Mexico City but in fact merely had through cars on Southern Pacific’s secondary train, the Argonaut to Los Angeles and NdeM’s trains 1 & 2 to Mexico City) and Scenic Limited (which actually did go to San Francisco over the Rio Grande and Western Pacific). The remainder of the booklet covers dozens of different destinations, including a wide variety of national parks, hot springs, and resorts. Continue reading
One more menu from November, 1947 shows Salt Lake City’s Temple Square on the cover. The back cover gushes about Brigham Young’s wisdom and foresight in leading the Latter Day Saints to Salt Lake a century before the menu was issued and guiding the growth of the community. Mormons were probably still viewed with some suspicion by other Christians in 1947, but there can be no doubt that the developed a society that has thrived in what would at first to be a pretty barren landscape.
Click image to download a 1.3-MB PDF of this menu.
Inside, this menu appears identical to yesterday’s. They offer five table d’hôte entrées, including trout, salisbury steak, pork chops, roast turkey, and sirloin steak, all of which come olives or celery, split pea soup, baked potato or squash, bisquits, salad, dessert, and beverage. The a la carte menu lists two kinds of fish but no meat entrées. The trout is $1.25 (about $14 in today’s money) a la carte or $2.00 as a full meal ($22 today) , while the Rio Grande sirloin steak meal is a full $3.50 (close to $39 today).
At 12,965 feet (the menu says 12,863 but the estimates must have been revised), Mount Sopris is one of Colorado’s shorter mountains. I may be wrong, but I don’t think it was visible from any Rio Grande train.
Click image to download a 1.3-MB PDF of this menu.
The back of the menu mentions the village of Redstone, which is “almost in the shadow of Mt. Sopris.” However, it incorrectly says the village was “originally built as a private estate.” In fact, the town was built for coal miners as an example of “enlightened industrial paternalism.” It is true that the owner of the company built a huge mansion, Redstone Castle, near the town, but he also built 84 homes with electricity and indoor plumbing, a library, theater, school, and the then affordable Redstone Inn. Most of these features were rare for a mining town in 1898.
Ruby Canyon isn’t as spectacular as Glenwood, Gore, and some of the other canyons followed by the Rio Grande Railroad, but it is the first interesting scenery eastbound passengers see on entering Colorado. The back of this menu has lengthy but mostly meaningless text about the canyon, just the sort of thing for people to read while waiting for the rest of their families to make up their minds about what to order for breakfast.
Click image to download a 2.0-MB PDF of this menu.
This menu comes with a stapled insert pleading for people to follow President Truman’s recommendation to “use no meat on Tuesdays, use no poultry or eggs on Thursday, and save a slice of bread a day.” It also notes that, to comply with Truman’s request, the dining car will serve bread and butter only on request. This seems pretty needless as any war-related food shortages must have ended by November, 1947, when this menu was dated. The PDF has extra pages to show the centerfold both with and without this insert.
In the late nineteenth and early part of the twentieth century, the Rio Grande heavily advertised the “Narrow Gauge Circle,” (though by 1915 parts were standard gauge). This consisted of a loop starting in Pueblo, going south to Alamosa and west to Antonito and Durango on the Denver & Rio Grande, then the Rio Grande Southern west to Dolores and north to Ridgeway, then back on the D&RG to Montrose, and east across the mountains through Gunnison and Salida back to Pueblo. Alternatively, from Durango people could take the D&RG due north to Silverton, then a stagecoach over the what eventually became the “million-dollar highway” to Ouray, then back on the train to Ridgeway.
Click image to download a 15.8-MB PDF of this 56-page booklet. Click here
to download an 836-KB PDF of the cover alone.
The Rio Grande Southern was a separate railroad but the Denver & Rio Grande had control of it for much of its life. Today, two narrow gauge portions of the Narrow Gauge Circle remain: Antonito to Chama and Durango to Silverton, both of which are incredibly beautiful. A few other portions remain in standard gauge, including Pueblo south to Cuchara Junction and Pueblo west through the Royal Gorge.
Although the Rio Grande Zephyr was a quality operation, as seen yesterday the railroad did not bother to adorn its menus with photos of scenery seen along the way. The same was true with ticket envelopes; while those from the 1960s had photos of the train, the ones from the 1970s were more utilitarian.
Click image to download a 242-KB PDF of this envelope.
No one expects a baggage check to be beautiful, and this one doesn’t even say it was for the Rio Grande Zephyr. However, L. (for Leonard) J. Bernstein’s name gives it away, as he became director of passenger services in 1971, about the same time Amtrak took over, leading to the Rio Grande Zephyr. L.J. was born within a year of another, slightly more famous, Leonard Bernstein, but the latter was only a conductor, not a passenger service manager. Continue reading
For more than a decade after Amtrak took over most passenger trains, the Rio Grande continued to serve passengers dinners in style, with cloth tablecloths (all marked California Zephyr), heavy china (made for the Rio Grande Zephyr, and silverware. This menu offered four table d’hôte entrées, a small a la carte section, two plate dinners, and two children’s dinners.
Click image to download a 1.2-MB PDF of this menu.
The entrées included mountain trout, of course; London broil; pork chops; and New York steak. The trout was $6.95 (about $26 in today’s dollars) while the steak was $9.95 (about $37 today). The plate dinners offered a choice of half a baked chicken or short ribs, while the a la carte menu included four sandwiches and two salads. Although there was only one kind of soup (du jour) and one kind of juice (tomato), there was otherwise plenty of choices for travelers eager to experience life in the Silver Age of passenger trains. Continue reading
Just over a year after Amtrak took over most passenger trains, the Rio Grande offered this menu to passengers on the Rio Grande Zephyr. It has far fewer offerings than yesterday’s 1966 menu, but that’s mainly because this is the menu for the grill car–the car that was the Cable Car Room on the California Zephyr–not the diner.
Click image to download a 578-KB PDF of this menu.
The Rio Grande’s grill car was called the Silver Shop, and it actually wasn’t used much on the Rio Grande Zephyr as the railroad had four dome coaches which, with the dome observation, provided plenty of dome seats while the diner offered sufficient capacity for food services most of the time. The Silver Shop, incidentally, is currently for sale to someone who can afford the ultimate in railroad memorabilia.