Western Pacific Postcards
Spike Gang at Elko Nev.: Real photo card, (AZO 4-up triangles), with the caption in
the picture "Spiking Gang on W.P.R.R. Elko Nev, 1909. Atherton and Son, Artists". No back
caption. Handwritten message reads "This is where I am it is in town. I am well be a brave boy.
Best love, a Happy Christmas & New Year to Arthur. R. A. N." Due to the extreme clarity of the
photograph, and the modern technology available in scanning and enhancing, here's a closer look
at several parts of the picture:
- For caboose afficionados, a close-up of the caboose. Pushing the limits of the equipment, here
are the reporting marks on the caboose's side (the color is a figment of the enhancing process).
- A close up of the crowd watching the track work being done.
- A detail picture of the woman off to the right of the main picture, and the rail cars in the
The Feather River Canyon
Three Tunnels: Front caption: "5580. Three Tunnels in Grand Canon of the Feather
River, Western Pacific Railway." Back caption: "Three Tunnels: This view, both novel and
picturesque, shows in a slight degree the obstacles overcome in constructing the Western Pacific
through the mountains traversed by this railroad." Center strip contains the initials "HHT CO".
Card is unused.
The Pulga Bridges --
- Card 1: Front caption reads "Feather River Highway Bridge above W.P.R.R. Bridge."
Back caption reads "The Feather River Highway Bridge spans the Feather River Canyon
above the W.P.R.R. and the Feather River, near Pulga between Oroville and Blairsden, Calif."
Published by Fasher's Fhotos. Card is unused.
- Card 2: Front caption reads (top): "Feather River Highway Bridge Above W.P.R.R.
Bridge and River." (Bottom) "At Pulga, California. "All Year Route Through the Sierras"
Shell Touring Service Photo." Back caption reads "Feather River Highway -- Oroville to
Quincy, or visa versa, is a new ALL YEAR high sped route through the Sierras, costing
$8,000,000.00. This 78 mile, -- average 0.8 per cent grade,-- 30 ft clear vision highway took
nine years to build. It spans the Feather River fourteen times. Three tunnels are cut through
solid rock and in places the road actually seems to cling to granite cliffs, --a true engineering
masterpiece! Its continuous scenic grandeur greatly emphasises [sic] nature's wonders." A
"Pictorial Wonderland" card published by Stanley A. Piltz Company, San Francisco. Card is
- Card 3: "At Pulga in the Feather River Canyon, Calif. Eastman's Studio B-597." Real
photo card, postmarked March 14, 1951. The hand-written message on the back reads in part,
"Fine trip out. California is nice and green. We were through this place on the train -- quite a
thrill through the Canyon."
- Card 4: The CZ at Pulga. Back caption reads "Pulga Bridges in the Feather River
Canyon, Calif." Published by Eastman's Studios. Not used, by pencil dated 1958 on the back.
Unfortunately, card was hole-punched for an album.
The Tobin Bridges
The criss-crossing auto and rail bridges at Tobin CA, in the Feather River Canyon, have proved a
favorite subject for rail photographers over the years, and likewise, postcard publishers. To get a
sense of the passage of time represented by these three cards, take a close look at the growth
progress of pine tree on the embankment at the right-hand end of the rail bridge.
- Card 1: Steam-powered freight. Caption on back of this tinted linen card reads,
"Twin Bridges -- the Feather River Canyon Highway Bridge beneath the WPRR Bridge, near
Tobin, Calif, is along the 68 mile scenic section of the "All Year Route" through the High
Sierras, which cost $8,000,000.00 and required 9 years to build." Card bears the logo
"Pictorial wonderland ART TONE Series, Stanley A. Piltz Co. San Francisco Calif." Card is
- Card 2: Real-photo cards, front caption: "Tobin Bridges over the Feather River, Calif.
Eastman's Studio." No other information on back. Postmarked Westwood Calif, Sep 11, 1953.
- Card 3: Exposition Flyer at the Tobin Bridges -- For a few months before the 1949
inauguration of the CZ, the WP operated its newly delivered equipment -- both cars and
locomotives -- on the Exposition Flyer, the train that the CZ would replace. The back caption
reads: "Streamliner on Western Pacific Railroad crosses Feather River on high bridge as
highway traffic travels on the lower bridge in this rugged canyon." Published by Mike Roberts
Color Productions. No post mark.
Belden: Front caption reads, "3298 - Belden, California, Grand Canyon of the Feather
River, On Line Western Pacific." Published by Souvenir Publishing Co. San Francisco.
Postmarked November 12, 1912 at Berkeley Cal.
Big Bar: "5960 In the Feather River Canon, near Big Bar California, Western Pacific
Railway." Back caption reads: "In the Feather River Canon: Unlike most other canons in the
United States, where all is desolation -- not a living thing, not even vegetation, everything
stamped with the seal of death -- the Feather River Canon is a living inspiration, and in all
seasons the evergreen forests look the same." Published by HHT Co. Not used.
"Western Pacific Exposition Flyer in the Feather River Canyon, Plumas County,
California," reads the caption on the back. Published by J.C. Bardell, San Francisco. Not used.
"Grand Canyon of the Feather River, On Line Western Pacific". Train looks faked (no
logo on tender). Published by Souvenir Publishing Co. San Francisco. No postmark.
Tunnel Near Keddie: Front caption reads, "752 - Train Leaving Tunnel Near Keddie Cal.,
on Line Western Pacific." Card published by Souvenir Publishing Co. San Francisco & L.A.
Card has not been used.
Utah and The Great Salt Lake
The Salduro Salt Beds: Front caption reads, "3301 - Salt Beds near Salduro, Utah. On
Line Western Pacific. Salt is from 2 to 20 ft. Deep and 98% pure." Card published by Edward H.
Mitchell, Publisher, San Francisco. Card has not been used.
"On the Great Salt Beds, Near Salduro Utah. These beds of salt 98 per cent pure are
eight miles wide and sixty miles long." Card published by Detroit Publishing ("Phostint").
Postmarked September 1911.
Crossing Great Salt Lake: Front caption: "5579. Western Pacific Crossing Southern End
of the Great Salt Lake. Black Rock at Right, Stansberry Mountains in the Distance." Back
caption: "The Western Pacific crosses an arm of the Great Salt Lake by a new route across the
southern end of that silent sea, and a little further on enters upon the Great Salt Beds. Here for
thirty miles the roadbed is laid upon white, solid salt, form one to fifteen feet thick and extending
four miles on either hand." No publishers data. Logo with N. American continent and US flag,
with the motto "See Europe if you will, but see America First." Card is unused.
Crossing the Great Salt Lake: Front caption: "71227 The Western pacific Railway
Crossing the Southern End of the Great Salt Lake, Utah." Card published by Detroit Publishing
("Phostint"). Card is unused.
Oakland, California: Front caption: "2177 - Western Pacific Passenger Station, Third
and Washington Streets, Oakland California." Published by Edward H. Mitchell, San Francisco.
Stockton, California: Front caption, "Western Pacific Depot, Stockton California."
Vertically on back: "Pacific Novelty Co. San Francisco - Los Angeles" Postmarked Stockton
Calif, June 17, 1926.
- Card 1: "Western Pacific Passenger Depot, Sacramento, California." Dirt streets
(compare to the following card), and a rather hokey superimposed train (WP had no
locomotive #923). Published by Edward H. Mitchell. Card is not used.
- Card 2: "Western Pacific R.R. Depot, Sacramento California." Paved streets and
crossing gates. Published by Pacific Novelty Co. Card is not used.
- 1911: The depot shortly after it was built, before the platform was poured. Unusual
glossy litho card, published by Pacific Novelty and made in Germany. Postmarked October
17, 1911. (Odd message on the back: "I am opposed to women voting. Love, Tillie")
- 1916: The platform and semaphore signal are now installed. Published by Edward H.
Mitchell. Postmarked September 27, 1916.
- Undated, but appears to be early, due to lack of trees in the foreground (see next
card). Published by Edward H. Mitchell, card is unused.
- 1924. Real photo card (appears to be AZO, but stamp is obscuring the coding),
postmarked August 14, 1924. Closeup of the "California Fruit" sign out front and the cool
jalopy at the far end.
Portola, California: "At Portola, Calif. J.H. Eastman #B-586." Real Photo card, not used.
Closeup of the depot, and a closeup of the switcher sitting in front of the depot.
Salt Lake City, Utah
- 1910: "The Salt Lake Depot, Salt Lake City, Utah, Denver & Rio Grande and
Western Pacific RR Co's." Published by Souvenir Novelty Co, Salt Lake City. Message reads
in part, "We have moved...3 blocks south and ½ block west from Depot. Don't like this part of
town very well." Postmarked October 14, 1910.
- 1920: Front caption, "Denver, Rio Grande and Western Pacific Union Depot, Salt
Lake City, Utah." Vertically on back: "Published by Souvenir Novelty Co. Salt Lake City,
Utah. Postmarked 1920. For comparison, here's a photo of the station from the same angle as
it looks today.
- Undated: Front caption reads "7712 -- Rio Grande and Western Pacific Depot, Salt
Lake City, Utah." Back caption reads "Salt Lake City's commanding geographical location
makes it the natural industrial, financial and transportation center of the inland West. The
business portion of the city is paved thruout and the streets are washed daily. Splendid
buildings are on the principal streets and between them are well kept business blocks with
attractive shop windows." Card is not used. Also for comparison, here's how it looks from the
same angle today.
- 1998: The old station still stands (as you can see from the two photos above),
and the north (right hand, as you view the station) end now holds the Rio Grande Cafe, which
has mixed excellent Mexican cuisine with the restored decor of the 1940's station lunch
counter. This is their advertising postcard, with interpretive art by Sandria Miller.
WP Number 58. Back rubber stamped info indicates photo was taken in Oakland Calif
on August 19, 1931. Real-photo card, AZO four-squares. Not postally used.
WP Number 326 Realphoto card, no other info. Card is unused. (Collection of John
WP Number 524 Back caption: "Mighty Mountain Mallet No. 254 starts train at Keddie
in 1945 heading East with close to 100 carloads of California merchandise." Photo by Western
Pacific, published by Bob Fremming, Dallas, Wisconsin 3-58 (Collection of John Wilson).
EMD FT #910: Real Photo card, front caption: "Diesel Locomotive. Eastman's Studio."
No other information on the back. Not postally used.
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