Oriental Limited, Great Northern Railway, 1912
This week’s postcard is the American version of the Canadian railway postcard previously shared. Part of the “See America First” promotion by Great Northern Railway, the line went between Chicago, Illinois and Seattle, Washington then could connect with trans-Pacific Great Northern steamships headed to the Far East. It was called “Oriental Limited.” Great Northern produced the card with the photograph dated as 1912. The stamp is a green George Washington profile, one cent, postmarked April 4, 1914 with the handwritten message in Norwegian. This card like last week’s two from the Canadian Pacific Railway were found at the Washington State [model] Train show.
Reverse, showing logo, stamp & date
The Oriental Limited began in 1905 going from St. Paul, Minnesota to Seattle with Chicago added in 1909 the year of the Alaska Yukon Pacific Exposition held in Seattle. My grandmother and a few of her nieces traveled from the east, Boston and New York, to Seattle in 1909 by train to see the Fair. They all ended up staying in the Pacific Northwest and not returning east. Now I am wondering if they may have traveled on this train at least from Chicago the rest of the way west but it is impossible to tell. There were other trains going west that were not as luxurious as this one. The “See America First” route was advertised as the National Park Route although it did not go through the parks but was next to them. It was possible to get off the train at various points, such as stations at Glacier and Yellowstone, and take some form of transport to visit the parks. By 1926 the train was advertised as being able to make the journey in 70 hours.
In 1929 the Empire Builder was introduced and by 1931 the Oriental Limited disappeared a causality of the Great Depression when Great Northern operated only one train on this route. The Oriental Limited name returned in 1946 when a second train was added but became the Western Star in 1951. Among the amenities offered on the train were services such as, passenger telephone access, afternoon tea, maid service in the Lounge car, a parlor car, and showers for passengers, as well a dining car with table linens and full service meals.
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