NP Pacific Northwest & Alaska Postcards

While much of NP’s advertising and postcards focused on Yellowstone, the end of its rails was in the Pacific Northwest so naturally it issued many cards from that region. Click any image to download a PDF of that postcard.

NP and GN subsidiary SP&S completed a line to Bend, Oregon in 1910. The photo on this postcard seems more oriented to attracting settlers than tourists. But the card was postmarked 1915 to Ema Gregg in Indiana from someone who says “I have seen lots of sites.”

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NP Montana Postcards

Although Yellowstone Park is mostly in Wyoming, the Gardiner Entrance to the park, along with the Cook City and West Yellowstone entrances, were all in Montana. So visitors to Yellowstone taking the Northern Pacific would likely see some of these other Montana sights as well. Click any image to download a PDF of the postcard.

This doesn’t appear to be issued by the railroad, but it shows the Northern Pacific train station in Missoula. There’s no date on the card, but the cars in the driveway look like they are from around 1930.

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Yellowstone Falls Postcards

A tourist visiting Mammoth and the geyser basins would follow up with a trip to Yellowstone Canyon. These postcards show the canyon and waterfalls in Yellowstone. Click on any image to download a PDF of that card.

To get to canyon overlooks on the east side of the river, tourists would cross this bridge which was built in 1903 (and replaced in 1963). It is a Melan arch bridge and is notable for being made of concrete that would entirely poured in just 74 hours. This particular card was sent by the Northern Pacific to a potential tourist in Pennsylvania, but there’s no date on the postmark.

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Geyser Postcards

Though there are more than 300 geysers in Yellowstone Park, most people never see the eruption of more than one or, if they are lucky, two or three. Click on any image to download a 300- to 500-KB PDF of the postcard.

Coming from Gardiner and Mammoth, travelers first visit the Norris Geyser Basin, home of more than a dozen geysers. If they walk through the basin, one of the first geysers they will see is Constant Geyser, so named because of its frequent eruptions. When Asahel Curtis took this photo for the Northern Pacific, it was called Minute Man Geyser, but that name is now used for a much more remote geyser. This card is postmarked 1924 and has a message from someone planning to spend five days in Yellowstone, then California, then up the coast to Canada, then the Canadian Rockies.

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Mammoth Hot Springs Postcards

From the Gardiner entrance, Mammoth Hot Springs was the first stop in Yellowstone Park. Mammoth was surrounded by terraces of a kind of limestone known as travertine.

This color card is from a painting by Gustav Krollman, who made many more detailed paintings for Northern Pacific posters. The back of the card mentions the North Coast Limited but says nothing about air conditioning, suggesting it is from the early 1930s.

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The Gardiner Gateway to Yellowstone

The Northern Pacific was proud to call Gardiner the “original entrance to Yellowstone National Park” and, from 1903 until Union Pacific built to West Yellowstone in 1908, the only one reached by a railroad. These postcards show views in and around Gardiner. Click any image to download a PDF of that postcard, all of which are 350 KB to 500 KB.

NP’s train station at Gardiner was built on a loop that allowed the train to turn and head back to the main line at Livingston. This card was not issued by the railroad but does present an overview of the town.

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Aboard the North Coast Limited

I’ll be posting Northern Pacific postcards for the next several days. Today, I have three advertising the heavyweight North Coast Limited and two more that don’t fit into other categories. Except where noted, PDFs are about 400 to 500 kilobytes.


Click image to download a PDF of this postcard.

This postcard was mailed from Fargo to someone in Le Sueur, Minnesota on June 27, 1936. The rather snooty-looking people in the drawing must be taking advantage of the North Coast Limited‘s air conditioning, as advertised on the back. However, the writer of the card notes, “Having a nice hot ride. Everything looks dry.”

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Escorted Tours to Yellowstone: 1916

One hundred years ago, someone could go from Chicago to Yellowstone, take a six-day, all-expense-paid tour of the park, and return for just $112.50. That included transportation, meals, and hotel accommodations at the park, and a lower berth but not meals on board the train. Before you get excited about the low price, $112.50 in 1916 is more than $2,500 in today’s dollars.

Click image to download an 8.0-MB PDF of this 20-page booklet (plus fold-out map).

This price was for an escorted tour. This booklet also has prices for extensions of the trip to the Northwest, California, and Colorado, though it appears that those trips are not escorted. The escorted tours left Chicago and St. Louis every Sunday from June 18 through September 3.

Land of Geysers: 1916

This edition is greatly expanded from yesterday’s 1913 version, with 50 percent more interior pages and what appears to be completely different text. From archive.org, we can see that a 1915 edition is substantially the same as this one. The front cover is supposed to represent John Colter and Native American guides, while (as shown below) the back is a continuous scene showing modern-day tourists.

Click image to download a 21.7-MB PDF of this 52-page booklet.

Maybe I just like color, but none of the NP geyser booklets compare with Union Pacific’s 1910 Where Gush the Geysers, which has numerous color lithographs that are far more appealing than the black-and-white photos in the Northern Pacific booklets. We know that NP’s reluctance to spring for full-color pictures in its advertising continued at least through 1948.

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