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Chapter Two HOW THE AT&SF MARKETED SANTA FE INTO THE EARLY 1920S Funding the Santa Fe Railway’s massive expansion through the Southwest required increased revenue. To generate ticket sales, the railroad used a variety of approaches to promote the majesty of the Southwest while emphasizing Santa Fe. These included highly competitive marketing, in which the railroad promoted the health benefits of the region as well as real estate and land opportunities. Additionally, it incorporated emblems that typified the Southwest, as well as the writings of literary icons, to sell the region to travelers. These marketing approaches are presented in two segments. The first deals with marketing and advertising efforts prior to the Great Depression; the second focuses on the AT&SF, particularly the successful campaign called Indian Detours starting in the late 1920s and extending into the 1930s. Competitive Marketing The railroad’s primary function initially was to ship freight and transport business travelers. After 1869, leisure travelers embraced train travel as a faster, safer, and more comfortable mode of transportation than overland stagecoach. To encourage passenger travel, the AT&SF created its own niche in the Southwest by promoting the culture, 15 scenery, healthy climate, and fertile river valleys to be found in and around Santa Fe. To challenge the Southern Pacific’s monopoly, the AT&SF became the first industry to exploit the history and scenic attractions of New Mexico, and the town of Santa Fe represented the essence of the Southwest. While the Santa Fe Railroad laid tracks into New Mexico, the Southern Pacific Railroad opened its first western tourist resort in Monterey Bay to accommodate passengers and promote passenger travel to California.1 This resort, called the Hotel del Monte, opened in 1880. After enduring entrepreneurial conflicts, price wars, and competition from other companies for territory, the AT&SF needed additional revenue to offset expansion costs. This extra income funded the construction of rail lines to the Southwest and the Pacific Coast and compensated for overhead expenses. Starting in the 1880s, the AT&SF began its promotional campaign to sell Santa Fe as a travel destination. Company officers recognized the public’s growing interest in the unique landscape of the arid Southwest, and they cleverly presented information for potential health seekers, settlers, and tourists.2 With the end of the Civil War, tourism in the West began to pick up momentum, and provided many people from the eastern United States with a diversion from urbanization and industrialization .3 For many, an excursion to the West was preferred over a trip abroad because there was no fear of seasickness or the obstacle of learning a foreign language.4 By the 1880s the railroad provided a faster and less expensive mode of travel than stagecoach. Now, leisure travel was affordable not only to the affluent, but also for an increasing number of middle-class Americans, who could afford to take the entire family along. In increasing numbers, many in the urban middle class sought to get away from their industrial surroundings and to find an escape from the “logical mind and social order.” To many Americans, the American West and its native Indians represented true freedom.5 The railroad took advantage of the rapidly growing leisure market and targeted workingclass families. To attract visitors to the Southwest, the AT&SF’s new campaign highlighted the healthy climate and agricultural opportunities in Santa Fe and its surrounding area. 16 CHAPTER TWO Selling Santa Fe to Health Seekers The AT&SF’s first promotional efforts emphasized Santa Fe as a destination for health seekers. Discouraged by the failure of conventional medicine , physicians of the mid-1800s began recommending western health resorts to their patients. By the 1870s, those seeking a healthy environment for relief from tuberculosis and other respiratory ailments found sanctuary in the warm, dry air of southern California.6 Starting in the 1880s, the Southern Pacific led several promotional campaigns to sell California to the “invalid.”7 The railroad provided special railroad cars and rail-side cottages to isolate tuberculars from healthy patrons.8 The AT&SF soon followed the Southern Pacific with a campaign of its own. With regard to New Mexico as a destination for health seekers, Jake W. Spidle, Jr., commented, in his 1987 study Doctors of Medicine in New Mexico, that within a very brief period, care for people ailing from respiratory problems became big business in New Mexico, and that this lasted from the 1880s until the start of World War II.9 The railroad commenced its campaign in 1895 to highlight “lunger” destinations , which included Albuquerque, Socorro, Silver...


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