Amtrak February 1976 Timetable

This is my favorite Amtrak timetable cover for paying homage to passenger train history. The tiny 1830 coach in the upper left is based on a replica in the B&O Railroad Museum. The M-10000 had been scrapped in 1942 and the Pullman car was also probably long gone. However, the Southern Pacific dome car and several of its sisters were still an active part of Amtrak’s fleet when this timetable was published.

Click image to download a 47.0-MB PDF of this 64-page timetable.

This timetable also pays homage to the semi-tradition of railroads that put the display cover on the back. The front cover has a system map showing what page to turn to for the schedules of each Amtrak route.

U.S.A. Rail Pass

Amtrak’s U.S.A. Rail Pass was supposed to provide a small discount to people who wanted to travel from, say, Los Angeles to New York and back. In 1976, when this brochure was issued, a 14-day pass was $165; 21 days was $220; and 30 days was $275. Anyone with a pass could go to any station and get a ticket on any train within that time period.

Click image to download a 6.3-MB PDF of this brochure.

A few people, such as yours truly, took advantage of the pass to ride trains almost continuously all over the country. On one memorable trip, I had a 30-day Amtrak pass and a 22-day VIA pass that slightly overlapped allowing me to ride almost every Amtrak and VIA route in 49 days. Amtrak rail passes today allow riders just 8 segments in 15 days, 12 segments in 30 days, or 18 segments in 45 days, thus spoiling my fun. Continue reading

Relief for Gas Pains

Some people, including at least one of Amtrak’s original board members, believed that Amtrak’s proper role was to phase out passenger trains. That goal was aborted when by the 1970s energy crises, thus giving Amtrak an apparent reason for existence: saving energy.

Click image to download a 607-KB PDF of this flyer.

This card encourages people to ride the train and thus save themselves the cost of gasoline. The card is undated, but based on the sample fares on the back I estimate it was issued in 1975. Most of these fares are slightly less than the fares shown in Amtrak’s 1976 timetable that I’ll post here in a couple of days.

Amtrak Ticket Envelope

Dated September, 1975, this ticket envelope looks like a passenger car with stainless steel ribbed siding. Though introduced in 1934, such ribs remained a modern design in the public mind four decades later.

Click image to download a 898-KB PDF of this postcard.

Inside is a list of 1-800 phone numbers that could be used to reach Amtrak in major cities. I count at least ten different 800 numbers, indicating that America’s telecommunications system was not yet sophisticated enough to have one national 800 number.

Welcome Aboard the Blue Water Limited

Beginning in 1975, Amtrak began using French Turboliners on the Chicago-Detroit Blue Water Limtied. The first new trains purchased by Amtrak, the French called them Rame à Turbine à Gaz (RTG), for “gas turbine train.” This brochure refers to the “sleek, new R.T.G. Turboliners,” so it was probably first issued in 1975.

Click image to download a 2.1-MB PDF of this brochure.

I picked up this combination welcome-aboard/along-the-way brochure in 1978, when I rode the train from Detroit to Chicago. I had just finished a lengthy tour of VIA routes with a train from Toronto to Windsor, arriving late in the evening. From there I hitched a ride across the Detroit River to Amtrak’s Detroit train station, where the agent was nice enough to open up the train–which would leave for Chicago first thing in the morning–for me to sleep in.

Amtrak 1974 Expo Postcard

In 1974, Spokane held an international exposition to celebrate the relocation of Burlington Northern and Union Pacific tracks from directly through to around the downtown area. Unfortunately, this also meant the destruction of two of the city’s three train stations, though they kept the clock tower from the former Great Northern station.

Click image to download a 456-KB PDF of this postcard.

This Amtrak postcard shows the exposition grounds on Havermale Island, where Great Northern had its station and yards. The clock tower is visible on the right side of the island. Continue reading

Amtrak First Class

First-class sleeping car passengers received this packet of materials, enclosed in a sealed plastic bag, from Amtrak in the 1970s. There’s no date on any of these materials, but the “First Class” logo matches the logo used on yesterday’s 1972 brochure. In addition to these papers, the packet included a cheap ballpoint pen that I didn’t try to reproduce here.

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

This folder was made of very stiff paperboard and was designed to be about a quarter of an inch thick in order to contain the pen. The First Class logo was embossed on the cover. Continue reading

The Not-So-Ultimate in Travel Comfort

Amtrak’s New York-to-Florida trains–the Silver Meteor and Silver Star–were some of its most popular overnight routes, and in 1972 Amtrak encouraged people on these trains to go first class, meaning by sleeping car. As described in this brochure, first-class service included a complimentary wine-and-cheese basket before dinner, sweets before bedtime, and a morning paper and beverage before breakfast.

Click image to download a 3.0-MB PDF of this brochure.

My PDF shows this brochure as a four-page folder. As presented to the public, this brochure was folded to show the man on the right side of my page 1 facing the woman on the left side of my page 4, as shown below. The photo suggests that Amtrak dining car service in 1972 was far from the ultimate in travel comfort. Continue reading

Amtrak 1972 Lunch Menu

Amtrak may have issued its own menus before this one, which is dated April, 1972. But it seems likely that it depended on the menu stock it inherited from the private railroads for many months. When it did make its own menus, as illustrated by this cover, they were distressingly dull, the pointless arrow hinting at Amtrak’s lack of creativity.


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

The menu itself is just as boring, offering a few soups, five trite sandwiches, and five meals with entrées ranging from a mushroom omelete to a Salisbury steak. Those with a sweet tooth would be glad to know there were eight desserts, but three were just variations of apple pie. The back of the menu, a huge piece of real estate that could have advertised Amtrak trains or destinations, is instead completely blank.

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.”