This 8″x10-1/2″ calendar isn’t really passenger memorabilia because Santa Fe was no longer running passenger trains in 1979. During most of the twentieth century, Santa Fe produced beautiful calendars using art from its own collection, and it continued to do so after Amtrak. But this is just a simple calendar, slightly enhanced by the fact that the 1980 calendar is on the back.
The painting of Tesuque Valley, New Mexico, on the cover of this menu is by Sheldon Parsons, a New York portrait painter who painted such notables as William McKinley and Susan B. Anthony. When he contracted tuberculosis in 1913, he went to Santa Fe for the dry climate and fell so in love with the landscape that he never painted portraits again. The climate suited him, as he lived there for 30 more years. Parsons was one of the last painters in the Barbizon school, which was the favorite style of Great Northern founder James J. Hill.
This menu has a date code of 8-11-1, which I suspect means it was issued in 1961. Near the date code, it also has the word “Valley,” which I suspect means it was used on the Golden Gate, which ran through the San Joaquin Valley. Before the Golden Gate, one of the trains on this route was called the Valley Flyer. The menu items are suitable for a secondary train rather than a premiere train such as the Super Chief or Chief.
This brochure is almost exactly the same as a 1961 edition shown here previously. But this one is dated June 10, 1956, nearly a month before Santa Fe’s Budd-built hi-level cars went into service on the El Capitan.
Other than the date and the names of some Santa Fe agents, the only significant change to the brochure was the cover picture. This version shows the El Capitan cruising across the New Mexico landscape. The 1961 version showed people getting of the hi-level lounge car (which normally wouldn’t open up for passenger boarding and deboarding). That image was based on a publicity photo that probably wasn’t available when Santa Fe designed the 1956 edition of this brochure.
Despite the title, this booklet really doesn’t have many “notes” for vacation planners. Instead, it consists of enticing photos with brief captions of the Grand Canyon; California; the Southwest; Colorado Rockies; and Texas. It also briefly lists eight streamlined and four heavyweight trains people can take “all the way” (at least from Chicago) to these destinations.
The quality of the black-and-white photos isn’t as good as it should be for a 1947 publication. The photos in Santa Fe’s 1940 Colorado booklet were much better, and of course the color photos in the 1941 Chief and Super Chief booklet were sublime. But I suppose this booklet got its message across to Americans recovering from the war: they owed themselves a vacation and the Santa Fe was an excellent place to start.
If the PDF of this booklet looks repetitious, it is because most of the 6-1/4-inch-wide pages of color photos are interspersed with 2-1/2″-wide pages of text. Even more confusing is that most of the photos are oriented at 90 degrees to the text. The photos are nevertheless gorgeous and show just how luxurious streamlined trains could be.
In 1941, the Super Chief was one of the fastest long-distance trains in the world, operating between Chicago and Los Angeles on its 39-3/4-hour schedule, for an average speed of 56 miles per hour including stops. But it only went twice a week, leaving Chicago Tuesdays and Saturdays and leaving Los Angeles Tuesdays and Fridays. It would not become a daily train until 1948. Continue reading
This booklet is filled with beautiful black-and-white photos that certainly make me want to visit Colorado. But would I want to take the Santa Fe to Colorado? The booklet admits that Santa Fe’s main line nicks the southeast corner of Colorado, from which a “branch line goes north to Pueblo, Colorado Springs, and Denver.”
At a time when Burlington and Union Pacific were running 16-hour trains between Chicago and Denver, Santa Fe’s best route was to take the extra-fare Chief to La Junta–a journey of 20-1/2 hours–followed by a five-hour trip to Denver. The return trip was even worse due to a nearly-three-hour layover in La Junta, while a trip to Denver via the Grand Canyon took nearly 35 hours. If La Junta or possibly Pueblo was your destination, Santa Fe would have worked, but for Denver or Colorado Springs, the Burlington, UP, or Rock Island would have been much better.
The all-coach El Capitan began running in 1938, and judging from the prices this menu can’t have been used much later than that. The table d’hôte side offers a charcoal broiled sirloin steak with appetizer, soup, potatoes (but strangely no vegetable), salad, rolls, dessert, and beverage for $1 (about $17 in today’s money). Considering that Union Pacific’s sirloin steak dinner cost $1.75 in 1935, $1 is indeed a bargain even for a train that was aimed at budget-minded passengers.
In fact, on the a la carte side of this menu, the sirloin steak all by itself was $1.50, which is more like the price that someone would expect in around 1938 to 1940 (it was $1.40 on the 1935 Union Pacific menu). Santa Fe chefs probably had that on the menu mainly to show what a bargain people could get with the steak and complete dinner for $1. Continue reading
This was published by the Santa Fe, but it was written by a David A. Wallace and made available to various railroads to distribute to their customers. Wallace wrote editions from at least 1928 through 1948, and the Michigan Railroads Association and possibly the Milwaukee Road joined Santa Fe in releasing many of these editions. The Michigan editions correctly included the apostrophe in “Everyman’s” while Santa Fe stubbornly did not.
Although portrayed as an almanac, it is really more of a propaganda tool for the railroads. Up to a quarter of the text consists of information subtly praising railroads or criticizing their antagonists such as trucks and government regulators. This propaganda is surrounded by recipes, stories of famous people, and odd bits of homely advice. Continue reading
This edition of Santa Fe’s booklet about the Grand Canyon is four pages longer than the 1923 version. Much of the text is the same, but this one has new photos and more of them. In addition, the centerfold has a color “airplane view” of the canyon rather than the plain map found in the 1923 edition.
A 1940 edition is also available on this site. That one was completely rewritten from the versions used in the 1920s.
When Japan started running bullet trains in 1964, Rhode Island Senator Claiborne Pell decided that America needed similar high-speed trains running between Boston and Washington. He persuaded Congress to pass the High-Speed Ground Transportation Act, which funded construction of the electrically powered Metroliners for use between New York and Washington and gas-turbine TurboTrains for use on the largely unelectrified route between New York and Boston.
The TurboTrain was based on a Chesapeake & Ohio concept train that had been featured in Trains magazine’s article, “Who Shot the Passenger Train?” as a “dayliner of tomorrow.” That train, however, minimized weight and costs by having each car share a one-axle truck, the same as the ultra-light trains of 1956. Those trains proved to be failures as passengers regarded them as uncomfortable. Continue reading