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The California Zephyr

The California Zephyr consist was made up of 11 cars when new in 1948. In 1950, a 6/5 sleeper car was added. Six consists were needed to maintain a daily schedule -- three going each way from Chicago to Oakland, CA. The trip took 50 hours and covered 2,525 miles. You passed three Zephyrs going the other way.

Heading West from Chicago it ran on the Chicago, Burlington & Quincy (CB&Q) mainline to Denver. From there it ran on the Denver & Rio Grande Western (D&RGW) to Salt Lake City. The final leg from Salt Lake to Oakland was on the Western Pacific (WP). These three railroads each owned some of the cars roughly based on the mileage of their leg of the trip:

Baggage car 3 1 2   6
Dome Chair Coaches 7 4 7   18
Dome-Buffet-Lounge 3 1 2   6
10/6 Sleeper 8 5 7 1 21
Dining Car 3 1 2   6
16 Section Sleeper 3 2 2   7
6/5 Sleeper 3 1 2   6
Dome Observation-Lounge 4 1 2   7
Cars 34 16 26 1 77
  44% 21% 34% 1.3%  
Mileage 1,034 570 921   2,525
  41% 23% 36%    

The extra 10/6 sleeper car was owned by the Pennsylvania Railroad (PRR) and used for 'through service' to New York City. You could go from coast-to-coast without changing trains. The 16 section sleeper cars were outfitted like old-fashioned Pullman cars. Chairs facing each other during the day. At night they formed a lower berth and an upper berth was pulled down from above. They just had curtains for privacy. The reason they were included in these modern train sets was that federal government employees and military could only expense the fare for an open berth. These cars were rebuilt to 48 seat chair cars in 1963-64. By then the Feds allowed the expensing of an actual bedroom.
Welcome Aboard -- These steps fold up into the car when not in use.

Here is a sister car to Silver Solarium, the Silver Planet. Originally there were six observation cars to support the six California Zephyr consists. Later a seventh observation car was added to the fleet. After a few years, the cars needed maintenance. The extra observation car ensured that each of the six Zephyr consists would have one.


Here is the neon sign on the tail of the train.  
Here is a vintage shot of a vista dome in its original configuration. There were no tables and all seats faced forward.   
Each consist had a Zephyrette on board. They were well trained and provided many services. To learn more, click Here.   

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