Union Pacific Calendars
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This page was last updated on September 18, 2022.
Photos -- Scanned images of the photos used in Union Pacific's color calendars
The Union Pacific Railroad's color calendars were first produced in 1939, for the upcoming year 1940.
From 1940 to 1948, the format was 10 inches by 18 inches, with the photo above each month's calendar. The calendar for 1945 did not have any railroad-theme photos, and the calendar for 1946 was all-artwork, with a few distant stylized trains visible.
From 1949 to 1995, the format was 12-1/2 inches by 23 inches, with the photo above each month's calendar.
From 1940 through 1969, there were additional pages showing the previous year's December, the full year for the current year and the full year for the following year. These extra pages were not included after 1969.
UP published East and West versions for each year from 1960 to 1966, with one or two eastern images in the east version, for marketing purposes in the eastern states. The calendars for 1967, 1968, and 1970 each had one or two eastern photos, meaning that there were not alternate versions during those years. (Randal O'Toole, email dated June 3, 2019)
The 1969 calendar was a large size (18-7/8 inches by 24 inches), and used paintings by Howard Fogg.
Beginning with the 1970 calendar, each calendar only had 12 pages, one for each month, without the full year for the current year and the full year for the following year.
The calendar for 1989 was the last year that used photographs taken by company photographers, ending a tradition that was started with the first calendar in 1940.
For the 1990 calendar, Union Pacific began using photos submitted by employees and railfans.
In 1997, the format was changed to 14 inches by 11 inches, with the photo on the back of each previous month.
The following comes from John Bromley, Director Historic Programs at the Union Pacific Railroad Museum in Council Bluffs, Iowa:
The color calendar as we know it made its debut in 1940. It was announced in the December 1939 Union Pacific ("pink") Bulletin. The article was headlined "UNION PACIFIC CALENDARS RECEIVE HIGH PRAISE". The story read, in part: "Proclaimed by everyone who has seen it as the most beautiful and striking calendar we have yet produced, (many say it's the finest they have seen, anywhere) the 1940 Union Pacific wall calendar is being distributed. Elaborate and modern in every detail, it consists of twelve separate pages, each with a natural color photograph reproduction of various views of the West."
We have a copy of that 1940 calendar in our collection here at the Union Pacific Museum. As you know it was mostly scenic pictures with a couple of train pictures. It was designed to promote the scenic wonders of the West. Prior to 1940 the calendars had a single cover image with tear off pages at the bottom with the months. I have one going back to 1915. I don't know if they were produced prior to that.
The company photographers were very competitive with each other in seeing who would have the most images on the calendar, although they were not given credit lines. The photographs were simply credited "Union Pacific Colorphoto".
I recall during John Kenefick's years as president, he would come downstairs from the 12th floor with his administrative assistant Herb Grau and they would walk around in the photo department where large color prints would be displayed on easels. Mr. Kenefick wouldn't say much, he would simply point at the winners.
In 1989 after the railroad closed the photo department, the calendar was transferred from the Public Relations and Advertising Department to the Marketing and Sales Department. They attempted to use employee-submitted images but it proved unsatisfactory. The last straw came in 1991 with an image of the Keddie Wye where a train had been crudely pasted in the background of the otherwise train-less picture. Jim Hildreth, my boss, complained about it, so the calendar and its budget was transferred back to Public Relations. Jim put it on my desk to handle. I came up with the idea of soliciting railfans for photos and I'm happy to say, that has been very successful. Initially I used some scenic pictures as per tradition, but as time went by train pictures began to dominate. One day Mr. Kenefick, even though retired by then, opined that it should be 100 percent trains. I took that as my cue.
In 1996 right after Ron Burns was named UP president, I was called up to his office to discuss, among other things, the calendar. The meeting started off with him casually waving his arm and saying, "Oh, we don't need a calendar..." I liked Ron and was shocked. Jim Beck from employee communications was with me and we recovered quickly enough to suggest if we changed the format we could save considerable printing costs. "Ok," Burns said. The change in printing went to the traditional "saddle stitch" style which gave us a lot more flexibility in where we could have it printed. Internally, the change met with some resistance among the traditionalists, especially in our carpenter shop which did a brisk business making frames for the calendar for exec's offices.
We were still giving away the calendars for free, but began charging $5 for "extra copies" for the new format that stated with the '97 calendar.
The latest milestone is the 2010 calendar which is the first 100 percent digital image calendar.