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Saturday, March 24, 2012

Union Pacific on the Southern Pacific?

I have written earlier about how the copyright law enforcement was not so enforced in the time of the early post card production, printing and selling. These three cards exemplify that theme. One can easily see the similarity among the three cards. The same train (except for the coloring), at the same location, going in the same direction, as seen from the same vantage point, with the same semaphore in the same position.
In the first post card we can see that the name of the train is the Overland Limited, and it is being operated by the Union Pacific Railroad. This is very interesting because the Lucin Cut-off trestle was built by the Southern Pacific Railroad. Two comments about this follow. First, the moniker “Overland Limited” has its origin in the stagecoach days. A stagecoach service between Virginia City, Nevada and Salt Lake City operated from 1861 to 1869. This service was begun by the Overland Mail Company and was ended after Wells Fargo took over the business. The Union Pacific Railroad was probably honoring the memory of the stagecoach service. Second, the original route of the Union Pacific’s Overland Limited was about 1900 miles, from Omaha, Nebraska to San Francisco. It began in 1869, the same year the stagecoach route was closed. This passenger service lasted with the Union Pacific until AMTRAK took over the long range passenger trains in 1971. In the early years, it would take sometimes over a week to complete the full journey by train. By 1906, the entire trip could be made in fewer than 60 hours (that’s two and a half days). You can see on the first card that the train is described as “The San Francisco Overland Limited” and they tell us that it is “passing over Great Salt Lake Cut Off, Utah.” They don’t mention that the Southern Pacific has partnered with the Union Pacific to allow this to happen. They just say that it is “On Line of Union Pacific”. This card is from the divided back era (1907 – 1915).
It was published by the Barkalow Brothers in Omaha, Nebraska. The Barkalow brothers were Derrick and Sydney. They began their business as news agents for the Union Pacific Railroad in 1865 which also was (and still is) headquartered in Omaha, Nebraska. At the age of 15 Sydney began his own book and stationery company with his brother. They became exclusive distributors of print material for the Union Pacific all along the UP routes. For retirement, they moved to Fort Myers, Florida. The middle post card actually names the cut-of as the “Lucin Cut-off”. It also tells us that there are 12 miles of trestle on which the trains travel to traverse the lake. The list of similarities in the pictures convinces me that they come from one photo. I went through the list in the first paragraph. There are some differences, too. The mountain that is in the horizon on the first card is missing in the second. The arms of the semaphore are painted differently. But, not much more varies between the two cards. This card was published by the Moon Book and Stationery Company. It is publication number 128 and it, too, comes from the divided back era. I do not know anything about the Moon Book and Stationery Company. I have looked, but in vain. If you know anything or find any information, I will be grateful if you send it my way. You can leave a comment in the comment section or e-mail me at The bottom post card was once a part of a set. The top edge has perforations that tell us that it was once attached to another post card. It, too, only recognized that the train we see is part of the Union Pacific: “Union Pacific Limited Train Crossing Great Salt Lake, Utah”. It is probably from the divided back era, too. On the back side it says “Union Pacific System Pictorial Post Card” and the symbol of the Union Pacific Railroad’s Overland Route is in the upper left hand corner of the card. The bottom left declares that it is the “direct and shortest route to San Francisco”. These last two cards are postally unused. The first card was mailed on September 16, 1911 at 5:30 p.m. from Omaha, Nebraska. The message on the back is from Charlie to Al in Whiting, Indiana: "I got this far or I should say to Ohaha. Having a fine trip. Best regards to all." Whiting, Indiana is on the shore of Lake Michigan just a stone's throw from the Indiana - Illinois border. So, Charlie probably went to Chicago and boarded the train there. Now he is in Nebraska on his way to hopefully somewhere warm for the winter.

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If you know anything about the history of the cards, the trains or the locations, please add them.