The California Zephyr

Page 4

Test Trips

Western Pacific had been making ready for the coming of the new California Zephyr car sets which were expected in early 1947 so ran a special test train between Oakland and Salt Lake City on December 16 to 19, 1946.

Extra 754 was made up to equal the weight of each new Zephyr train and consisted of General Motors' new type F3, three unit, Diesel-electric 4500 h.p. locomotive and eleven cars, including the Burlington's dynamometer car, Vice President Mitchell's business car 101, Eastern Division Superintendent Duggan’s car 106, Western Division Superintendent Curtis' car 105, a cafe coach, a Pullman, a lounge car, and four coaches. The Burlington's dynamometer car was under the charge of their locomotive test engineer, Colin C. Eldridge. This car was equipped with apparatus to measure and make a complete record of the performance of a locomotive in action.

The test train made the speediest runs ever made on the Western Pacific and, in order to see the entire route by daylight, the trip was made in four stages - Oakland to Gerlach, Gerlach to Salt Lake, Salt Lake to Portola, and Portola to Oakland.

Delivery and Display

Delivery of the new BUDD built cars began early in 1948. Initial ideas for an “Advance California Zephyr” were discussed in which two sets of six coaches and four baggage cars equipped for lunch service would operate on a twice-a-week schedule. This idea was quickly dropped as it was felt this would tarnish the image of the train even before it debuted. Instead, a few select cars were placed in service on the Exposition Flyer. Held from inclusion in the Flyer consist were the vista-domed-buffet-lounge, dining and vista-domed-lounge-observation cars. The railroads did not want the inauguration of the California Zephyr to be anticlimactic for the public.

A few of the new Zephyr cars received public exposure at the 1948 Chicago Railroad Fair. From July through October, the Budd Company would put on display a new car recently off the production line prior to delivery to its new owner. During this time all three California Zephyr railroads were featured with Western Pacific vista-dome coach “Silver Dollar” shown in August, Denver & Rio Grande Western vista-dome coach “Silver Bronco" displayed in September and finally also in September Chicago, Burlington & Quincy 10/6 sleeper “Silver Valley”.

Inauguration

Display train in San Francisco.

Public exhibition of the new train began on March 12, 1949 at Oakland, California and continued during the week at San Francisco, San Jose, Stockton, Sacramento, Marysville, Oroville, Portola as well as Winnemucca, Elko and Salt Lake City, Utah. Attendance at these exhibitions was estimated to exceed 65,000 people. During these exhibition’s members of the press, civic leaders and Western Pacific employees were invited to take short “tours” of the line aboard the new train.

Also proud of this new train the Chicago, Burlington & Quincy held public exhibitions in Chicago and other points plus operated six 76-mile preview excursions from Chicago to Aurora at two-hour intervals with a round trip fare of one dollar.

This might have well been called California Zephyr Week, for the dream of all Western Pacific people had become reality, for the sleek silver trains had been delivered, ushering in a week of thrilling pre-inaugural promotion activities.

The week was climaxed on Saturday, March 19, a day before the inaugural run from Oakland, CA when the dedication of the California Zephyr took place at San Francisco. This would be the only time the California Zephyr ever made an appearance in San Francisco proper. Displayed proudly in front of the Pier 3 Ferry building the train was officially christened the “California Zephyr” when feminine beauty and glamour met the new look in railroading. Lovely actress Eleanor Parker, Warner Brothers' star, christened the California Zephyr by breaking a bottle of California champagne across the nose of the 802.

Inaugural train in San Francisco.
Al Silveria.

The christening program was opened by Evelyn Corvello singing The Star Spangled Banner; the Most Reverend John J. Mitty, Archbishop of San Francisco, followed with the Invocation; and Leland Cutler offered an inspiring address of welcome. Master of Ceremonies Tol Avery introduced the distinguished guests, following which President Harry A. Mitchell, of the Western Pacific Railroad, presented the train and the Honorable Goodwin J. Knight, Lieutenant Governor, accepted it in behalf of the people of California. The program ended with the singing of "I Love You California," again featuring the beautiful voice of Evelyn Corvello.

In spite of Western Pacific management's preoccupation with displaying the Zephyr to an eager public, WP employees were also given an opportunity to see and inspect the train and, where possible to do so, special arrangements were made providing short trips which enabled any employee, if he/she so desired, to actually ride the train. WP employees were grateful for the consideration shown them by management and their feelings could best be expressed by what one employee remarked . . . "It was nice of the officials to let us in on the Zephyr. It makes us feel more like we're a part of the Western Pacific and besides we will know what we're talking about when we tell our friends about it."

CZ Zephyrette's

The California Zephyr operated daily on a fast schedule between San Francisco and Chicago over the Western Pacific, the Denver & Rio Grande Western, and the Burlington railroads. In addition to the luxury of the train itself, the new schedule provided for daylight riding through both the Feather River Canyon and the Colorado Rockies on the Moffatt Tunnel route, magnificent scenery where the unobstructed views from the Vista Domes could be enjoyed to the fullest.

A Zephyrette, one of the uniformed train hostesses who had just completed Chicago courses in railroading, babysitting and general charm, were in attendance to explain the features of the new streamlined train. Among those were the exceptionally smooth and quiet ride due to heavy insulation and disc brakes, water softeners and circulating ice water, individually controlled radio reception in each bedroom and roomette, with wire recorders providing music and entertainment when radio reception was not favorable.

What was considered the top comment about the new train was overheard by Lee Brown, head clerk of the overcharge bureau, to wit: "This is the only train I've ever been on that I hated to get off." A close second was the question from a pleased San Francisco visitor "Where's the swimming pool?"

Consists of the first six California Zephyr trains that would depart Oakland are listed here by car name, number and ownership.
Order Type Designation March 20 March 21 March 22 March 23 March 24 March 25
1 BAGGAGE CB&Q 905 WP 801 CB&Q 903 WP 802 D&RGW 1100 CB&Q 904
S. COYOTE S. BEAVER S. BEAR S. STAG S. ANTELOPE S. BUFFALO
2 COACH W & C CZ-22 WP 812 CB&Q 4716 WP 811 CB&Q 4718 CB&Q 4717 D&RGW 1105
S. FEATHER S. BRIDLE S. DOLLAR S. LARIET S. LODGE S. BRONCO
3 COACH COND. CZ-21 D&RGW 1106 WP 813 CB&Q 4720 D&RGW 1107 WP 814 CB&Q 4719
S. COLT S. PALACE S. RIFLE S. MUSTANG S. SAGE S. RANCH
4 COACH CZ-20 CB&Q 4722 CB&Q 4721 D&RGW 1108 WP 817 WP 815 WP 816
S. STIRRUP S. SADDLE S. PONY S. THISTLE S. SCHOONER S. SCOUT
5 BUFFET DORM. WP 831 D&RGW 1140 WP 832 CB&Q 251 CB&Q 252 CB&Q 250
S. CHALET S. SHOP S. HOSTEL S. LOUNGE S. ROUNDUP S. CLUB
6 10 RMTE. 6 BDRM. CZ-15 D&RGW 1130 WP 865 CB&Q 428 WP 864 CB&Q 427 D&RGW 1131
S. PASS S. RANGE S. VALLEY S. PALISADE S. FALLS S. SUMMIT
7 10 RMTE. 6 BDRM. CZ-14 CB&Q 426 CB&Q 425 D&RGW 1132 WP 861 WP 862 WP 863
S. CLIFF S. BUTTE S. GORGE S. ARROYO S. CANYON S. MOUNTAIN
8 DINER WP 841 D&RGW 1115 WP 842 CB&Q 195 CB&Q 194 CB&Q 193
S. PLATE S. BANQUET S. PLATTER S. RESTAURANT S. DINER S. CAFE
9 16 OPEN SECT. CZ-12 D&RGW 1120 WP 872 CB&Q 401 CB&Q 400 D&RGW 1121 WP 871
S. ASPEN S. POPLAR S. LARCH S. MAPLE S. PINE S. PALM
10 10 RMTE. 6 BDRM. *CZ-11-NY CB&Q 424 CB&Q 423 D&RGW 1134 D&RGW 1133 PENN 8449 WP 866
S. SHORE S. POINT S. GLACIER S. CREEK S. RAPIDS S. BAY
11 ROOM-OBS CZ-10 WP 882 D&RGW 1145 WP 881 CB&Q 375 CB&Q 376 CB&Q 377
S. PLANET S. SKY S. CRESCENT S. HORIZON S. PENTHOUSE S. SOLARIUM
*CZ-11 CARS WILL NOT OFTEN APPEAR IN THIS ORDER
Crew of the Inaugural CZ train.
Al Silveria.

At the Ferry Building on Sunday, March 20, passengers boarded the 9 a.m. ferry for the inaugural run of the first eastbound California Zephyr, leaving Oakland Pier behind F3 803 at precisely 9:30 a.m. Corsages of three gorgeous Hawaiian orchids made up in the California Zephyr's colors of orange and silver, which were flown over from Hilo, Hawaii, were presented upon boarding to each female traveler on this first passenger trip east. Adding to the festive atmosphere, the Western Pacific Employee Band kept the public entertained with music prior to departure.

The trains were an immediate success. This was in no small part to the planning the railroads had done preceding the California Zephyr’s inaugural run.

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