Searching for a Recipe Book…

As we write this on April 23, 2024, we ironically find that it is World Book Day, and a book is something we are searching for. Read on to learn more about our quest to find an original Great Northern Ranch Car recipe book.

As we write this on April 23, 2024, we ironically find that it is World Book Day, and a book is something we are searching for. For over a year, our NCRy/PLA President, Henry Baum, has been meticulously working his way through the restoration of the kitchen in our Great Northern Railway Ranch Car ‘Hidden Lake’. From countless hours cleaning the stainless to repairing items around the kitchen, Henry’s work is now getting down to some of the smaller details.

We recently found him hanging the kitchen’s recipe book holder back up after being cleaned as shown in the lead photo above. The only problem, we do not have a recipe book to put into it. So… Our quest is underway to see if we can find an original Great Northern Railway recipe book for the Ranch Cars of which there were five built in 1951 by American Car & Foundry.

In the meantime, we wondered what recipes one may find in such a recipe book. Well, here is clue. Recently one of our volunteers, Chris Hauf, found an original GN Ranch Car Menu for sale on eBay and purchased as part of our growing collection of historical info on the car. Here it is!

The menu cover which is folded in half to form the menu as presented to a diner.
The inside of the menu.

So what can we order? A Plate Meal of Meat or Fish with potatoes and another vegetable along with a cup of soup, bread & butter and pie or ice cream for dessert with a drink of coffee, tea or milk included all for $1.60! Various sandwiches are available all for less than $1.00 each along with Chuck Wagon Beef Stew for $1.35. Various salads and desserts are also offered including Pie Ala Mode where the type of pie is unknown. It appears this menu was introduced in May of 1954 based on the form code. Our Steward for this day on this particular car was Mr. Ken McCausland.

This at least gives us some idea of some of the items which may have been prepared or at least finished in the kitchen of the Hidden Lake early in its service life where undoubtedly the offerings changed over time in the combination lunch counter and seated lounge car.

So our quest for the recipe book continues. Have information or something to share, please Contact Us. We would love to hear from you whether it is another version of the menu to share, experiences on a Ranch car either as an employee or a passenger or maybe the small chance that you have a recipe book we could have or could duplicate.

Thanks for coming along on our quest for a book on this World Book Day! We hope someday to again be able to serve some of these dishes along with a cup of coffee stirred with a replica GN Ranch Car stir stick (anyone able to help us make repros?) to you as you ride the Hidden Lake on our Niles Canyon Railway. Donations to keep the work moving forward are also always welcome.

An original Great Northern coffee stir stick from a Ranch Car.
Collection of Chris Hauf
A wide view of the kitchen which is nearing completion and just prior to the re-hanging of the recipe book holder.
Image by: Chris Hauf – Used with permission