Cloisters of Saint John Lateran, Rome. Source:

Wednesday, 27 May 2015

When It All Gets Too Much, Get Onboard The California Zephyr.

Text is from Wikipedia, the free encyclopaedia,
unless otherwise stated.

Postcard photo of the California Zephyr,
prior to her first 1949 run.
Source: eBay item.
Author: Publisher: Lyman Cox-Photograph: Western Pacific Railroad.
(Wikimedia Commons)

The California Zephyr is a passenger train operated by Amtrak between Chicago, Illinois, and Emeryville, California, via Illinois, Iowa, NebraskaColorado, Utah, Nevada, and California. At 2,438 miles (3,924 km) it is Amtrak's second-longest route. Amtrak claims the route as one of its most scenic, with views of the Upper Colorado River Valley in The Rocky Mountains, and The Sierra Nevada.

Travelling on Amtrak's
California Zephyr.
Part One.
Available on YouTube at

Before Amtrak, the California Zephyr (the CZ, or "Silver Lady") was a passenger train operated by the Chicago, Burlington and Quincy (CB and Q), Denver and Rio Grande Western (D and RGW) and Western Pacific railroads, all of whom dubbed the train "the most talked about train in America" on 19 March 1949, with the first departure the following day.

It was scheduled to pass through the most spectacular scenery on its route in the daylight. The original train ceased operation in 1970, though the D and RGW continued to operate its own passenger service, the Rio Grande Zephyr, between Salt Lake City and Denver, using the original equipment until 1983. Since 1983, the California Zephyr name has been applied to the Amtrak service, which operates daily and is a hybrid of the route of the original Zephyr and its former rival, the City of San Francisco.

Still travelling on Amtrak's
California Zephyr.
Part Two.
Available on YouTube at

During fiscal year 2012, the California Zephyr carried more than 376,000 passengers, an increase of 5.9% on 2011. The train had a total revenue of $47,605,728 in 2012, a 6.4% increase on 2011.

The original California Zephyr operated over the Chicago, Burlington and Quincy Railroad from Chicago to Denver, Colorado, the Denver and Rio Grande Western Railroad between Denver and Salt Lake City, Utah, and the Western Pacific Railroad from Salt Lake City to Oakland, California. Cars owned by different railroads ran together; rail cars cycled in and out for service, repairs, and varying passenger loads with the seasons.

The first train was named in San Francisco by Eleanor Parker, while California Lieutenant Governor Goodwin Knight, Mayor of San Francisco Elmer Robinson, and WP President Harry A. Mitchell looked on. For the inaugural run in 1949, every female on the train was given "silver" and orange orchids flown from Hilo, Hawaii. The rail car hostesses were known as "Zephyrettes."

Tickets, please.
Still onboard The California Zephyr.
Part Three.
Available on YouTube at

In Summer 1954, the schedule for 2,532 miles Chicago to San Francisco was 50 hrs 50 mins. An Eastbound California Zephyr, through Ruby Canyon, saw the train's first birth on 1 March 1955, when Reed Zars was born.

The Zephyr was not immune to falling passenger travel in the 1960s; moreover, it began to lose money even when sold out. The Western Pacific applied to discontinue its portion in 1966 but the Interstate Commerce Commission (ICC) refused after public outcry.

English: Westbound California Zephyr, operated by Amtrak, in front of the Book Cliffs, between Green River and Floy, Utah, USA. The train is hauled by two General Electric P42DC locomotives.
Deutsch: Von Amtrak betriebener nach Westen verkehrender California Zephyr
vor den "Book Cliffs", zwischen Green River und Floy, Utah.
Der Zug wird von zwei General Electric P42DC gezogen.
Français: Le California Zephyr, un train de voyageurs américain de la compagnie Amtrak,
passe devant les Book Cliffs, entre la rivière Green et Floy, en Utah (États-Unis).
le train est tracté par deux locomotives General Electric P42DC.
Photo: 14 June 2010.
Author: Kabelleger / David Gubler (
(Wikimedia Commons)

The D and RGW made the same request in 1969 and in 1970 the ICC permitted Western Pacific to end its portion, provided the D and RGW and Burlington provide "some semblance of [service]" between Chicago and Ogden, Utah. The last Westbound California Zephyr to the West Coast left Chicago on 22 March 1970 and arrived in Oakland two days later.

The California Zephyr had operated for 21 years and 2 days. East of Salt Lake City, the train was reduced to a tri-weekly schedule, operating as California Service on the Burlington and as the Rio Grande Zephyr on the Rio Grande. The Rio Grande portion of the train was extended beyond Salt Lake to Ogden, Utah, allowing Nevada and California passengers to connect to the Southern Pacific Railroad's City of San Francisco. This continued until the creation of Amtrak on 1 May 1971,

The California Zephyr.
Part Four.
Available on YouTube at

The brainchild of Velma McPeek, the Burlington's Supervisor of Passenger Train Services, the Zephyrettes were train hostesses who performed a wide variety of roles, from tour guide, to First Aid Responder, to Babysitter. After debuting on The Denver Zephyr in 1936, they served on The California Zephyr from 1949 until it was discontinued in 1970.

A Zephyrette (centre, in blue uniform) at work
on the lower level of a California Zephyr Vista-Dome car in 1967.
Date: March 1967.
Source: eBay.
Author Burlington Route.
(Wikimedia Commons)

Described by former Zephyrette, Julie Ann Lyman, as "the railroad's answer to the air line stewardess", the various duties of the position included welcoming passengers, making announcements, sending telegrams, making dinner reservations, and generally serving as a liaison between the train's passengers and its crew. At any one time, there were ten or eleven Zephyrettes who were actively employed. When Amtrak revived The California Zephyr in 1983, it invited a former Zephyrette, Beulah Bauman, to Christen the train.

A pair of the Western Pacific's Budd Rail Diesel Cars (RDCs), replacements for the Royal Gorge (trains No. 1 and 2), also picked up the name Zephyrette. From 15 September 1950 to 2 October 1960, they were in service between Oakland, California, and Salt Lake City, a distance of 924 miles (1,487 km), which made the route the longest Rail Diesel Car service in the United States.

The California Zephyr.
Part Five.
Available on YouTube at

California Zephyr 60th Anniversary Special, 2009.
Rear car is the Budd #377 "Silver Solarium," built 1948-1949.
Photo: 30 October 2009.
Source: 086xRP.
Author: Drew Jacksich from San Jose, CA, The Republic of California.
(Wikimedia Commons)

The California Zephyr.
Part Six.
Available on YouTube at

Historic California Zephyr dome coach car "Silver Lariat" en route to Oakland, being pulled by
the Coast Starlight. The Budd Company built #4718 "Silver Lariat" in 1948-1949 for the CB and Q
as part of the original California Zephyr.
Date: 12 May 2009 (original upload date).
Source: Transferred from en.wikipedia;
Transferred to Commons by User:Liftarn using CommonsHelper.
Author: Original uploader was Jcesare at en.wikipedia.
(Wikimedia Commons)

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