The California Zephyr
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
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”.
|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.
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."
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
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.
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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