Amtrak 1971 Breakfast Menu

This menu is identical to the one with the Missouri River bridge on the cover. The other side of this menu, however, is blank; perhaps Amtrak ran out of Union Pacific’s preprinted menus.


Click image to download a 541-KB PDF of this menu.

The menu side still has the Union Pacific train with the word “Amtrak” crudely printed over the UP logo. Why didn’t they take the trouble to erase the logo? As it is, you can barely tell that it says “Amtrak.”

Amtrak Alco Century Lunch-Dinner Menu

Union Pacific liked big, powerful locomotives, and in 1963 it asked Alco, General Electric, and General Motors to design Diesels that could produce at least 5,000 horsepower. Alco responded with the Alco Century 855, the most powerful Diesel built up to that time. The locomotive wasn’t very successful; UP bought only three and retired them after just eight years while it bought twenty of GE’s entry and 27 of the General Motors version plus 47 of the GM’s follow-up.


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

Despite its problems, Howard Fogg portrayed the Alco locomotive with an early container train in this centennial painting used by Amtrak on another Travelers Rest lunch-dinner menu. This menu offered grilled veal, fried chicken, fried perch, hot beef sandwich, and, of course, the famous “grilled ground beef pattie on toasted bun topped with slice of American cheese.”

Amtrak Columbia River Lunch-Dinner Menu

Before the Union Pacific Railroad, and long before Bonneville Dam, there was a small portage railroad to get around some rapids in the Columbia River at what is now called Cascade Locks. Howard Fogg portrays this portage railroad in this painting commissioned by Union Pacific for its centennial.


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

The menu, which like those of the previous two days is marked Travelers Rest, offers jumbo shrimp, hot turkey sandwich, ham omelette, and “Grilled ground beef pattie on toasted bun topped with slice of American cheese.” The latter, of course, was a cheeseburger, but they probably used the longer description to justify the high price of $1.60 (about $10 today), which included hashed brown potatoes and a beverage. (A cheeseburger alone was listed on the a la carte part of the menu for 95 cents, about $5.75 today.) Continue reading

Amtrak Missouri River Breakfast Menu

Although Howard Fogg’s painting celebrates the Union Pacific’s first crossing of the Missouri River, it is much less of an advertisement for that railroad than yesterday’s (and much less likely to invite invidious comparisons between Amtrak and its predecessors). Like yesterday’s, this one is for breakfast on the Travelers Rest car, presumably on the San Francisco Zephyr.


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

The menu itself offers eight “club breakfasts,” ranging from juice, cereal, bread, and beverage for $1.40 (about $8.50 in today’s dollars) to poached eggs on an English muffin with ham, bacon or sausage; juice, bread, and beverage for $2.50 (about $15 today). There is also a brief a la carte menu with fruit, cereal, bread, and beverages and three children’s meals.

Amtrak Domeliner Breakfast Menu

Amtrak made no effort to disguise the fact that this cover painting by Howard Fogg advertises the Union Pacific Railroad. The other side of the menu also has a small image of a Union Pacific E locomotive, but Amtrak has printed its own name over the UP logo on the nose of that locomotive.


Click image to download a 1.2-MB PDF of this menu.

The menu also says it is for the Travelers Rest car. When Amtrak originally took over, it cancelled the North Coast Limited. But it bought many NP passenger cars while not buying many cars from Union Pacific’s passenger fleet. Western Pacific’s and Rio Grande’s California Zephyr cars were not available to Amtrak, so it appears that, for at least a few months, the Traveller’s Rest cars, with their wall-sized paintings depicting the Lewis & Clark Expedition, were used on the San Francisco Zephyr. Continue reading

Amtrak 1971 Lunch Menu

To start the New Year, I’m beginning to post items from the Bronze Age of rail passenger travel. If the Golden Age was the age of heavyweight trains–roughly 1900 to 1930–and the Silver Age was the age of lightweight streamlined trains–roughly 1934 to 1971–then the Bronze Age was and is the age of government ownership of North American passenger trains, including Amtrak and VIA.


Click image to download a 1.5-MB PDF of this menu.

Amtrak’s first menus used menu stock from the railroads it replaced, including this menu which the Union Pacific began using shortly before Amtrak took over. This is a little bit ironic as Amtrak’s original network wasn’t going to include Union Pacific trains, favoring the Super Chief/El Capitan over the City of Los Angeles, California Zephyr over the City of San Francisco, and Empire Builder over the City of Portland. It was only because Rio Grande originally decided not to join Amtrak that Amtrak used any Union Pacific tracks at all, namely those between Denver and Ogden. Continue reading

1959 Great White Throne Lunch Menu

Here’s a menu that was missing from my collection but that I had documented in the California Railroad Museum’s collection. Now I’ve acquired one of my own. The interior says this menu was used on the City of San Francisco, which makes it one of the few color photo wraparound menus used on that train that doesn’t show a scene in the San Francisco Bay Area.


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

With this menu, I now have 120 different Union Pacific color photo wraparound menus in my collection. My UP menu checklist includes six more menus from the California State Railroad Museum and one that I’ve seen on eBay, for a total of 127. I also feel pretty sure that there are at least two more state college menus, probably for Oregon State College and Utah State Agricultural College, and maybe several more. Continue reading

1958 City of Denver Dinner Menu

Many City of Denver menus featured photos of Denver parks and civic buildings on the covers, but that wasn’t always the case. We’ve seen this photo before on a 1965 City of Los Angeles breakfast menu, but the inside of this dinner menu is marked for the City of Denver.

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

The table d’hôte menu offers just four entrées: trout, lamb chops, fried chicken, and the special sirloin steak. The a la carte side is also pretty limited, offering a steak sandwich, chef’s salad, and a couple of other salads. In 1958, the City of Portland and City of Los Angeles dining cars offered five dinner entrées instead of four, but the fifth one was just an omelet. By the late 1960s, even the finest Union Pacific trains would offer just four dinner entrées.

1954 Colorado State Capitol Dinner Menu

Until I found this menu on eBay, I knew about it only because it was visible in a postcard. This copy is dated July 2, 1954, and has a handwritten note saying “OK Jay 6/30,” suggesting that this was a proof of a menu that would go into effect two days later.


Click image to download a 1.2-MB PDF of this menu.

UP had another menu featuring Colorado’s capitol building that also had a 1940s-era car parked in front. I’ve speculated that the railroad would rephotograph scenes to deal with dated cars and hairstyles, but my copy of the other state capitol menu was issued three years after the one shown above. Since this one doesn’t have a car that can get dated, it is surprising that UP continued to use the other version long after the car would look old fashioned.

Creighton University Dinner Menu

Until I found this menu, I was comfortable in the belief that UP had two college-oriented menus for most of the states it served, with four for California because it was so big and only one for Wyoming and perhaps a couple of other states because they only had one major college. But I’ve already documented menus for the University of Nebraska and the Municipal University of Omaha, so a third menu from a Nebraska university was a surprise.


Click image to download a 1.2-MB PDF of this menu.

It may also be worth noting that all of the colleges so far are public except for two in California and, now, Creighton in Nebraska. Does this mean that there are more private college menus for some of the other states for which we have two public college menus? Perhaps Reed College in Oregon, Whitman College in Washington, or Brigham Young in Utah? Or, if public vs. private wasn’t really a criterion, maybe we will find Idaho State College in Idaho in addition to the two found for Idaho; perhaps the Municipal University of Wichita in addition to UK and KSC in Kansas. The point is, there may be a lot more college menus out there.