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Marketing the Golden State Limited

Brochures, pamphlets, and route guides spanning 50 years of travel on a Chicago-California luxury train
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By 1919, a three-orange logo had replaced the single piece of fruit that adorned the covers of Golden State travel booklets.
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The lavish title page of a 1902 Rock Island route guide to its new cross-country passenger train, the Golden State Limited. Rock Island and Southern Pacific inaugurated the train on November 2, 1902.
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"Every mile in comfort" reads the cover of this Golden State travel booklet from 1915.
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This pamphlet from 1930 promoted the Golden State Limited's convenient access to resorts in Arizona and California. "Unusual Service to an Unusual land," is the slogan used inside the brochure.
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This travel booklet from the early 1920s celebrated the Golden State Limited's 21st year of operation and promoted its new direct service to San Diego from Chicago.
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This guide to the Golden State Limited's on-board services and accommodations was printed in 1936.
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"Golden State Route - None faster" was the theme of this 1927 route guide, which detailed the scenic highlights of the train's Chicago-Los Angeles journey.
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This brochure from 1924 is one of several used by Rock Island and Southern Pacific during an agressive 1920s ad campaign to promote the Golden State Limited.
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An artist's rendition of Rock Island's snazzy E7 diesels graced the cover of the Golden State's 1951 route and accommodation guide.
"From the beginning, advertising aimed to set the Golden State apart from its competitors," writes Warren Taylor in the Winter 2002 issue of Classic Trains magazine.

The jointly operated Rock Island-Southern Pacific luxury train Golden State Limited between Chicago and California is one of three notable passenger trains with centennial anniversaries in 2002: New York Central launched its 20th Century Limited on June 15, 1902, the same day rival Pennsylvania Railroad inaugurated the Broadway Limited.

In separate articles, Classic Trains magazine looks at all three flagship passenger trains and the important role advertising played in their success. You'll see some of the outstanding print ads, travel brochures, pamphlets, and guides produced to entice the traveling public aboard.

"In advertising the Golden State, Rock Island promoted it as a deluxe, high-quality service," writes Taylor. "Speed was not unimportant, but the push was to present a train of uncommon quality."

To the right is a sampling of Golden State accommodation guides, route guides, and posters from the author's collection, designed to showcase the train's "uncommon quality" to the public.

See the Winter 2002 issue of Classic Trains magazine, and read more about the advertising campaigns that promoted the Golden State, Broadway Limited, and 20th Century Limited.

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