Great Northern 1941 Annual Report

While Great Northern’s 1940 annual report featured GN’s most-powerful steam locomotive, a 2-8-8-2 R2, on the cover, the 1941 report introduces GN’s new FT Diesels. GN soon purchased 51 A units and 45 B units of this locomotive, but page 38 of this report indicates that, at the end of 1941, it had 17 more Diesel locomotives than in 1940, and presumably those were all FTs. (The older ones were all switch engines.)

Click image to download a 29.4-MB PDF of this annual report.

Page 19 mourns the death of Arthur Curtiss James, “at times the largest individual shareholder in the Company.” “No man since the passing of James Jerome Hill has exercised a greater influence on the general course of the Company,” it adds. Though I might argue in favor of Ralph Budd, James made sure the financing was available to carry out the tasks Budd undertook to finish the projects envisioned by Hill, including the Cascade Tunnel and California extension.

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Great Northern 1940 Annual Report

This annual report is huge, with 52 9″x12″ pages illustrated by numerous photos and charts. This was a major break from the traditional annual reports of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries that tended to be 6″x9″ with no photos or charts. Instead, they contained standardized tables and dry recitations of facts, with many paragraphs using the same wording from year to year with changes only in the numbers.

Click image to download a 27.4-MB PDF of this annual report.

Great Northern was a little ahead of the curve with this illustrated report. While Pullman also began issuing illustrated annual reports in 1940, most railroads did not do so for several more years: of the railroads I know, SP started in 1943; NP & B&O in 1944; Seaboard in 1946; Burlington in 1947; Western Pacific in 1949; Union Pacific in 1951; and Atlantic Coast Line in 1957.

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Cafe-Parlor On-Board Stationery

This stationery uses the post-1936 Rocky logo, but is probably from before the war. The carelessness of the printing–the off-center red circle and the slight tilt of the lines of text relative to the edge of the paper–suggests this was used aboard a secondary train, as such imperfections would not have been acceptable on a first-class train such as the Empire Builder (not to mention that Empire Builder stationery would probably show the name of the train).


Click image to download a PDF of this letterhead.

Between 1937 and 1947, the only trains in Great Northern timetables listed as having parlor cars were the St. Paul-Duluth Gopher and Badger and the Portland-Seattle trains. Cafe cars were in trains 3 & 4, the Seattle-Spokane Cascadian, the St. Paul-Fargo Alexandrian, St. Paul-Grand Forks, Havre-Butte, Williston-Havre, and Seattle-Vancouver. This stationery could have been used on any of those trains.

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Dinner Menu

We’ve previously seen this menu cover on a lunch menu. This menu is undated but lists A. W. Deleen as dining car superintendent, which suggests it is probably from the 1940s as Deleen replaced J. G. Blair sometime around 1940.

Click image to download a 1.7-MB PDF of this menu.

Today’s menu offered fish, broiled chicken, lamb chops, omelet, prime rib, chicken pie, or fried tomatoes with bacon in a variety of meal combinations. For 50 cents, you could have ordered fish or chicken pie a la carte, or the same in plate dinner number 3 with salad, bread, and beverage. Why would anyone order them a la carte?

Breakfast Menu

I’ve previously shown a menu that is very similar to this one. Both have the same covers and similar (though not identical) breakfast offerings ranging from 50 cents to 90 cents.

Click image to download a 1.6-MB PDF of this menu.

Neither menu is dated, but the previous one identifies A. W. Deleen as Great Northern’s general superintendent of dining cars, while today’s gives the name of J. A. Blair. Blair had an interesting career that included work for the Pennsylvania, Canadian Pacific, Spokane, Portland & Seattle, and Great Northern Pacific Steamship Company before becoming GN’s superintendent of dining cars and, incidentally, sleeping cars in 1920. Deleen, meanwhile, attained the position no later than 1943 and continued at least through 1963. So today’s menu is somewhat older than the previous one.

See America First

The Great Northern didn’t invent the slogan, “See America First,” but it probably used it more than any other travel company. The bright yellow, red, and blue colors in this brochure encourage people to take the Empire Builder to Glacier Park on their way to anywhere else they happen to be going in the West.

Click image to download a 8.3-MB PDF of this brochure.

I don’t see a date on the brochure, but the Rocky logo indicates it is from no earlier than 1936, and the printing technology indicates it is pre-war. So I’ll be cautious and say is from around 1940.

Summer, 1937 Timetable

Although the Depression pushed Great Northern’s secondary train, the Oriental Limited, off the timetable after 1931, this timetable shows that the Fast Mail, which ran from St. Paul to Seattle, had sleeping cars and coaches (but no food service). Another train, numbers 3 & 4, went between St. Paul and Great Falls with sleeping cars, coaches, and a cafe car.

Click image to download a 26.8-MB PDF of this 36-page timetable.

The timetable also contains two pages of steamship schedules, featuring ships from Seattle to Alaska, Hawaii, Japan, China, the Philippines, and Australia. It also shows a ship between New York and Los Angeles/San Francisco via Havana, Acapulco, and the Panama Canal, which is odd because anyone taking that route wouldn’t be likely to ride the Great Northern.

Great Northern 1930 Postcard Menu

When folded, this menu is about twice the size of a postcard, so one more fold allows the address space to appear and it is ready for mailing. The cover shows the Empire Builder, or possibly the Oriental Limited, in the Cascade Mountains. The back has a photo of Lake MacDonald Lodge, which Great Northern acquired in 1930.

Click image to download a 773-KB PDF of this menu.

Inside, the left side of the menu is a testament to Glacier Park wildflowers, while the unpriced menu on the right side was for a “Prairie Farmer Trip to Adventureland.” Adventure Land was part of the name of one of Grace Flandrau’s booklets written for the 1926 Historical Expedition. We’ve previously seen several Southern Pacific menus for a 1938 trip sponsored by Prairie Farmer magazine.

On Your Alaska Trip, Be Sure to Include Glacier

We’ve seen this brochure before, only it was blue and advertised Union Pacific trains instead of Great Northern. The brochure was actually designed by the Alaska Steamship Company and co-distributed by Union Pacific, Great Northern, and possibly other railroads.

Click image to download a 4.2-MB PDF of this brochure.

Other than the color, the backs of the two brochures are identical. The biggest difference about the fronts is a panel that Union Pacific used for photos of the Portland Rose and the Columbia River Gorge, which Great Northern used for the Empire Builder dining car interior and Glacier Park.

Logan Pass Dinner Menu

This pretty menu is undated, but the cover brags that the dining and observation cars on the Empire Builder are air conditioned, which dates the menu to 1934. By 1935, Great Northern had air conditioned the entire train.

Click image to download a 0.9-MB PDF of this menu.

The menu features full dinners for 50 cents to $1.25 (about $9 to $22 in today’s dollars). EntrĂ©es include “various” fish, sirloin steak, fried chicken, roast lamb, and more. The best deal is the full sirloin steak dinner, which is just 25 cents more than the a la carte sirloin steak.