Route of the California Zephyr

The California Zephyr is the only transcontinental train between the Great Lakes and the Golden Gate which has been scheduled to give travelers the choicest of western scenery by day. This ultramodern train offers the greatest of travel thrills-an unobstructed view of western wonderlands from air-conditioned, glass-enclosed Vista-Domes. Following are brief comments about some of the points of interest along the route from Chicago to San Francisco. Times at principal stations and points of interest herein are shown for both the West and Eastbound California Zephyr. This reference mark 0 preceding train time indicates train does not stop. Eastbound passengers should read forward from last page.

C.T. - Central Time M.T. - Mountain Time P.T. - Pacific Time

Westbound: 3:30 P.M. (C.T.)
Eastbound: 1:00 P.M. (C.T.)
Altitude: 595 ft.
San Francisco: 2537 mi.

Chicago is not only the center of America's rail transportation systems at the crossroads of U. S. manufacturing and distribution, but it can boast of many unusual attractions and advantages. Its parks, boulevards and beaches, stretching for many miles along the shores of Lake Michigan, give the nation's second city a "front yard" second to none in the world. Chicago is rich in cultural and educational facilities; it also has many stores and shops of national fame. For your enjoyment, Chicago's diversified entertainment answers any demand, for here is the gigantic magnet which draws an ever-increasing host of recreation and pleasure seekers as well as business and convention visitors.

AURORA, ILLINOIS (Conditional stop)
Westbound: 4:06 P.M.
Eastbound: 12:15 P.M.
Altitude: 650 ft.
San Francisco: 2499 mi.
Chicago: 38 mi.

From a prominent, stagecoach transfer in the 1830's Aurora - birthplace of the Burlington in 1849 - has developed into a thriving industrial center and city of beautiful homes. Burlington shops are located here.

MENDOTA, ILLINOIS (Conditional stop)
Westbound 4:40 P.M.
Eastbound 11:37 A.M.
Altitude: 750 ft.
San Francisco: 2454 mi.
Chicago: 83 mi.

Center of a prosperous agricultural area and nearby coal fields, where this fuel was first discovered in the United States by Joliet, in 1673. The Chicago and Aurora Railroad (now a part of the Burlington) reached here in 1853.

Westbound: 0 4:59 P.M.
Eastbound: 0 11:20 A.M.
Altitude: 700 ft.
San Francisco: 2433 mi.
Chicago: 104 mi.

Settled by New Englanders in 1833. One of America's most attractive small cities, with magnificent elm trees transforming streets into cathedral arches. Long the home of John Bryant, one of the founders of the Republican Party.

KEWANEE, ILLINOIS (Conditional stop)
Westbound: 5:16 P.M.
Eastbound: 10:59 A.M.
Altitude: 855 ft.
San Francisco: 2406 mi.
Chicago: 131 mi.

A widely known industrial city which was settled in 1836 by New Englanders. Spoon River, made famous by Edgar Lee Masters' "Spoon River Anthology," has its source nearby.

Westbound: 5:45 P.M.
Eastbound: 10:28 A.M.
Altitude: 773 ft.
San Francisco: 2375 mi.
Chicago: 162 mi.

Settled in the late 1830's, Galesburg is today an important manufacturing and distributing city. Historically, it was one of the key stations on the "Underground Railroad" during the Civil War period, and its Knox College, chartered in 1837, was the scene of the famous Lincoln Douglas debate in 1858.

Westbound: 0 6:08 P.M.
Eastbound: 0 10:08 A.M.
Altitude: 770 ft.
San Francisco: 2358 mi.
Chicago: 179 mi.

This city was named to commemorate the Revolutionary War battle of Monmouth, New Jersey. It is a marketing center for a corn and feeder cattle area, and is widely known for its manufacture of pottery. Monmouth College, organized in 1856, is located here.

Westbound: 0 6:30 P.M.
Eastbound: 0 9:45 A.M.

Our country's greatest river (the boundary between Illinois and Iowa) is crossed 26 miles west of Monmouth. Its name, meaning "River of the Meadows," was given to it by the Indians, though it was more reverently known to them as the "Father of Waters."

Westbound: 6:35 P.M.
Eastbound: 9:42 A.M.
Altitude: 530 ft.
San Francisco: 2331 mi.
Chicago: 206 mi.

Before the coming of the white man the site of this city was known to all Indian tribes as neutral ground because of its hills of flint which provided material for implements and weapons. During the 1850's thousands of emigrant wagons passed through here, and hundreds of steamboats docked to discharge freight to be hauled inland. In 1887, George Westinghouse perfected the air brake on West Burlington Hill over the same right-of-way traversed by the California Zephyr.

Westbound: 0 7:02 P.M.
Eastbound: 0 9:10 A.M.
Altitude: 725 ft.
San Francisco: 2304 mi.
Chicago: 233 mi.

Iowa Wesleyan College is located here. On the campus are the Executive Offices and Memorial Library of the P.E.O. Sisterhood. Iowa's first courthouse was erected here in 1839. One of the first plank roads in the state was completed from Burlington to Mt. Pleasant in 1851.

Westbound: 0 7:22 P.M.
Eastbound: 0 8:51 A.M.
Altitude: 775 ft.
San Francisco: 2282 mi.
Chicago: 255 mi.

An important manufacturing town and the home of Parsons College. The first Iowa State Fair, held here in 1854, was a typical frontier event. The Public Library Museum is intercontinental in scope.

Westbound: 7:46 P.M.
Eastbound: 8:26 A.M.
Altitude: 650 ft.
San Francisco: 2257 mi.
Chicago: 280 mi.

Situated on the banks of the Des Moines River, the site of Ottumwa was a favorite camping place of many Indian chiefs. Today this prosperous and beautiful city is the largest pork processing center in the midwest. Six miles east of Ottumwa, at Agency, Iowa, General Joseph M. Street, Indian Agent, established a trading post and agency in 1838. Just east of Agency is a tall shaft erected in memory of General Street, Major Beach and Chief Wapello, Fox Chief and friend of the white man.

Westbound: 0 11:40 P.M.
Eastbound: 0 4:55 A.M.

The river the Indians knew as Mini-Souri is the boundary between Iowa and Nebraska, and is at all times a turbulent stream. Early traders navigated it by boats which were hauled up stream by men on shore with towlines over their shoulders. By 1857, a large fleet of steamboats operated as far north as Omaha.

Westbound: 11:45 P.M.
Eastbound: 4:45 A.M.
Altitude: 1,040 ft.
San Francisco: 2036 mi.
Chicago: 501 mi.

Omaha is a city of varied industries, and one of fine retail stores, beautiful homes and excellent educational facilities. It is the nation's fourth largest rail center and one of the country's foremost grain, livestock and meatpacking cities. It was named for the Omaha Indians who originally occupied this site. Fur traders were located here as far back as the 1820's. The Lewis and Clark explorers and the Mormon pilgrims passed by here.

Westbound: 0 12:30 A.M.
Eastbound: 0 4:05 A.M.

The Platte figured extensively in the early history of the west, its course being a natural route for the pioneers. The Mormons followed the north bank for several hundred miles. The Oregon Trail and the Pony Express route followed the south bank.

Westbound: 1:04 A.M.
Eastbound: 3:35 A.M.
Altitude: 1,150 ft.
San Francisco: 1981 mi.
Chicago: 556 mi.

Founded in 1864, Lincoln became the state capital in 1867, and today it is distinguished by a ten million dollar capitol building, one of the most beautiful in America. Lincoln is a prosperous manufacturing, wholesaling and retailing city and a leading education center ... the University of Nebraska, College of Agriculture and Nebraska Wesleyan University being located here.

As we approach Denver, we have a 200-mile panoramic view of the towering and irregular profile of the Rockies, with Long's Peak to the northwest and Pikes Peak to the southwest

Westbound: 8:20 8:40 A.M.
Eastbound: 7:00 7:15 P.M.
Altitude: 5,280 ft.
San Francisco: 1498 mi.
Chicago: 1039 mi.

"The Mile High City" - established in 1858 with the discovery of gold nearby - is the only American municipality owning and maintaining a system of mountain parks outside its city boundaries. It is a city of prosperous business and industry as well as a great vacation center. Westward from Denver our route is through some of the wildest and most rugged sections of the far-flung Rockies - an incomparable region where nature has expressed herself in unbounded beauty and grandeur.

Westbound: 0 9:26 A.M.
Eastbound: 0 6:15 P.M.
Altitude: 6,782 ft.
San Francisco: 1474 mi.
Chicago: 1063 mi.

From this vantage point almost one-fourth of Colorado's total area can be seen spreading eastward in a magnificent panorama. We pass through 28 tunnels from here to the Great Moffat Tunnel.

Westbound: 0 10:14-10:27 A.M.
Eastbound: 0 5:07 5:19 P.M.
San Francisco: 1448 mi.
Chicago: 1089 mi.

This 6.2 mile bore through the Continental Divide is 9,239 feet above sea level at its apex, 4,021 feet under the lofty crest of James Peak. At the west portal of the tunnel, the Winter Park ski area offers ideal winter snow conditions, six ski tows, large open slope, lodge and other facilities for skiers.

Westbound: 0 11:01 A.M.
Eastbound: 0 4:38 P.M.
Altitude: 7,937 ft.
San Francisco: 1423 mi.
Chicago: 1114 mi.

Granby is a central point in Middle Park, which ages ago, was the floor of an inland sea. West of Granby the railroad traverses a series of colorful gorges. First is winding Byers Canyon, then rugged Gore Canyon, one of the longest and deepest of all western chasms - once the strait through which ocean waters entered Middle Park.

Westbound: 0 12:26 P.M.
Eastbound: 0 3:16 P.M.
Altitude: 6,710 ft.
San Francisco: 1369 mi.
Chicago: 1168 mi.

Eastern terminus of the Dotsero Cutoff - the 40-mile link connecting the Moffat Tunnel and Royal Gorge routes of the Rio Grande. The name is the reverse spelling of Dotsero (see below). West of Orestod is Red Canyon, a brilliantly colored scenic favorite with travelers. The "pagodas," chiseled by the elements in the likeness of Bhuddist temples, are strange multicolored rock formations that have withstood the onslaught of time.

Westbound: 0 1:22 P.M.
Eastbound: 0 2:12 P.M.
Altitude: 6,155 ft.
San Francisco: 1331 mi.
Chicago: 1206 mi.

Here the Eagle River joins the Colorado. And here the railroad joins the Rio Grande's Royal Gorge route from Pueblo. From this point a survey was made of the Colorado River in 1885. As the initial point, it appears on the record as 11.01, (dot zero). Hence the name. West of Dotsero is color-splashed, 18-mile long Glenwood Canyon - one of the outstandingly beautiful regions of the entire trip. Sheer walls of red rock rise in rugged grandeur on both sides, blanketed in numerous places by myriad evergreens. Each turn brings a new and different series of grotesque and magnificent formations which only time and the elements can produce.

Westbound: 2:00 P.M.
Eastbound: 1:40 P.M.
Altitude: 5,745 ft.
San Francisco: 1313 mi.
Chicago: 1224 mi.
Apex of the Glenwood-Aspen-Redstone triangle - a vast recreation area favored by fishermen, hunters, skiers and other sportsmen - famous for its Yampah Springs which pour their therapeutic mineral waters into the world's largest warm water, open air swimming pool. The consistent warmth of the pool water permits year-round swimming.

Westbound: 0 2:30-2:59 P.M.
Eastbound: 0 12:41-1:08 P.M.

Between these two Colorado Valley towns the California Zephyr reaches the midpoint on its 2,537-mile journey. Primarily an agricultural and livestock producing area, the surrounding rock cliffs have a high oil content and are included in the 67,000 acre Naval Oil Reserve. A pilot plant at Rifle is carrying on experimental work for extracting the oil from shale.

Westbound: 3:40-3:50 P.M.
Eastbound: 11:51-11:58 A.M.
Altitude: 4,573 ft.
San Francisco: 1224 mi.
Chicago: 1313 mi.

Located at the junction of the Colorado and Gunnison Rivers, this city is the trading hub of a vast agricultural and scenic empire, including the famed Grand Valley peach region. It is the rail gateway to Mesa Verde National Park, Colorado National Monument and Grand Mesa.

Westbound: 0 4:25 P.M.
Eastbound: 0 11:15 A.M.
Altitude: 4,343 ft.
San Francisco: 1190 mi.
Chicago: 1347 mi.

Located directly on the line dividing Utah and Colorado, in Ruby Canyon, an aptly named gorge where nature presents a riot of reds from pink to russet. A boundary marker is on the canyon wall.

Westbound: 0 4:30 P.M.
Eastbound: 0 11:10 A.M.
Altitude: 4,340 ft.
San Francisco: 1185 mi.
Chicago: 1352 mi.

Here the railroad leaves the Colorado River after following it for 238 miles. In that distance is seen the dramatic developing of a small mountain stream into a great and mighty river.

THOMPSON, UTAH (conditional stop)
Westbound: 5:15 P.M.
Eastbound: 10:28 A.M.
Altitude: 5,160 ft.
San Francisco: 1145 mi.
Chicago: 1392 mi.

Located on the north flank of the uranium-rich Colorado Plateau, Thompson is the rail stop for the booming desert city of Moab, 30 miles to the South, "capital" of the vast region which is the nation's atomic storehouse.

Westbound: 0 5:42 P.M.
Eastbound: 0 10:01 A.M.
Altitude: 4,080 ft.
San Francisco: 1118 mi.
Chicago: 1419 mi.

Center of a rapidly developing dry farming area. At this point, the lowest on the railway route between Denver and Salt Lake City, the California Zephyr crosses the historical Green River.

Westbound: 0 7:16 P.M.
Eastbound: 0 8:34 A.M.
Altitude: 6,120 ft.
San Francisco: 1043 mi.
Chicago: 1494 mi.

Here the Price River has carved a narrow passageway thru solid gray sandstone. The imposing portals resemble a realistic gateway in the towering walls of an ancient castle.

Westbound: 0 7:51 P.M.
Eastbound: 0 8:01 A.M.
Altitude: 7,455 ft.
San Francisco: 1022 mi.
Chicago: 1515 mi.

Crest of Utah's Wasatch range, named to commemorate the resting place of soldiers buried here in 1860. Leaving Soldier Summit, the line drops down the western side of the range, thru colorful Spanish Fork Canyon and into the Great Salt Lake Valley.

Westbound: 9:05 P.M.
Eastbound: 6:52 A.M.
Altitude: 4,549
San Francisco: 972 mi.
Chicago: 1565 mi.

Third largest city in Utah and hub of a vast area rich in agricultural and mineral wealth. In nearby freshwater Utah Lake the Jordan River - named for its biblical prototype - has its source, flowing northward into Great Salt Lake.

Westbound: 0 9:12 P.M.
Eastbound: 0 6:45 A.M.
Altitude: 4,544 ft.
San Francisco: 966 mi.
Chicago: 1571 mi.

In an incomparable setting at the foot of lofty Mt. Timpanogos - "sleeping princess" - is the modern plant of the Geneva Works of the United States Steel Corporation - symbol of Utah's industrial progress.

Westbound: 10:00-10:15 P.M. (M.T.)
Eastbound: 5:40-6:00 A.M. (M.T.)
Altitude: 4,390 ft.
San Francisco: 928 mi.
Chicago: 1609 mi.

A city of unusually wide streets, beautiful parks, imposing public and business buildings, and fine homes. Temple Square is the impressive setting for the magnificent, six-towered Mormon Temple and the celebrated Tabernacle. The city was founded on July 24, 1847, by a little band of 148 Mormons, led by Brigham Young. Then began the transformation of a desert into the great and rich agricultural and industrial empire it now is. Salt Lake City marks the boundary between the Mountain and Pacific Time Zones; watches should be reset at this point.

Westbound: 0 9:40 P.M. (P.T.)
Eastbound: 0 3:55 A.M. (P.T.)

Largest inland body of salt water in the western world, Great Salt Lake is but a remnant of a sea which long ago covered a portion of Utah's Great Basin.

Westbound: 1:40 A.M.
Eastbound: 11:35 P.M.
Altitude: 5,060 ft.
San Francisco: 665 mi.
Chicago: 1872 mi.

Elko is the largest city on the Western Pacific line in Northeastern Nevada and is an important mining, agricultural and stock raising center. Elko is located on the shores of the amazing Humboldt River which flows for 1,000 miles within the state. It rises in the hills and disappears into the floor of the desert, seemingly having no beginning and no ending.

Westbound: 3:50 A.M.
Eastbound: 9:32 P.M.
Altitude: 4,325 ft.
San Francisco: 532 mi.
Chicago: 2005 mi.

One of Nevada's leading cities, situated between the Santa Rosa and Humboldt Ranges, Winnemucca is a distributing and shipping point for farm products and stock. Nearby mines produce gold, silver and copper.

Westbound: 0 6:02 A.M.
Eastbound: 0 7:15 P.M.
San Francisco: 378 mi.
Chicago: 2159 mi.

Skirting this range on the east, and to the south of the railroad is Pyramid Lake - a vast prehistoric lake. The Nevada-California line is crossed at Calneva, the northern tip of the Virginia Range.

Westbound: 0 6:45 A.M.
Eastbound: 0 6:33 P.M.
Altitude: 4,544 ft.
San Francisco: 966 mi.
Chicago: 1571 mi.

From here a branch line extends southeast to Reno - "Biggest Little City in the World," and beyond to Carson City, state capital, and the mining town of Virginia City.

Westbound: 0 6:48 A.M.
Eastbound: 0 6:27 P.M.
Altitude: 5,001 ft.
San Francisco: 327 mi.
Chicago: 2210 mi.

The California Zephyr crosses the summit of the Sierra Nevada through Beckwourth Pass. Although the surrounding mountain peaks are over 9000 feet high, the Pass here is of such a low altitude that it permits an easy grade to be maintained.

Westbound: 7:10 A.M.
Eastbound: 6:05 P.M.
Altitude: 4,834 ft.
San Francisco: 321 mi.
Chicago: 2216 mi.

Portola is at the headwaters of the Feather River and also the eastern entrance to beautiful Feather River Canyon, through which we pass. Largest community in Plumas County, railroad division point and lumbering center.

Westbound: 0 7:10-10:28 A.M.
Eastbound: 0 2:45-6:05 P.M.

For 118 miles the California Zephyr follows the serpentine path of the Feather River through the Sierra Nevada. The canyon is an unending source of breathtaking beauty. Its rugged sides are covered with forests of pine and spruce. In the clear, deep blue pools of quiet waters between foaming rapids, the ever-changing colors of the canyon are reflected. In 1849, there were many dramatic gold strikes along the Feather River.

Westbound: 0 7:53 A.M.
Eastbound: 0 5:20 P.M.
Altitude: 3,949 ft.
San Francisco: 295 mi.
Chicago: 2242 mi.

Williams Loop is so named because the rails form a circle of approximately one mile. The railroad was constructed in this manner so as to maintain the maximum of one percent grade, thereby insuring smooth comfortable travel for passengers.

Westbound: 8:20 A.M.
Eastbound: 5:00 P.M.
Altitude: 3,227 ft.
San Francisco: 281 mi.
Chicago: 2256 mi.

Keddie is the starting point for Lake Almanor, also the trip to Lassen Volcanic National Park, site of Mount Lassen, the only live volcano on the North American Continent.

Westbound: 0 8:47 A.M.
Eastbound: 0 4:30 P.M.
Altitude 2,502 ft.
San Francisco: 265 mi.
Chicago: 2272 mi.

Rich Bar derived its name from the fabulous amount of twenty three million dollars in gold taken from the Feather River by early miners during the Gold Rush days.

Westbound: 0 10:17 A.M.
Eastbound: 0 3:02 P.M.
Altitude: 332 ft.
San Francisco: 213 mi.
Chicago: 2324 mi.

General John Bidwell discovered gold here on July 4, 1848, precipitating the gold rush to the Feather River country. Bidwell Bar suspension bridge was built in 1854 with cables brought around Cape Horn.

Westbound: 10:28 A.M.
Eastbound: 2:43 P.M.
Altitude: 205 ft.
San Francisco: 205 mi.
Chicago: 2332 mi.

Oroville (Spanish for "Gold City") is at the western entrance to Feather River Canyon. The site of rich placer mining, it was also the scene of the older gold "dredging" method of mining. One may see remnants of the old "dredging" operations along the banks of the Feather River. It is a center of great agricultural production. Standing today, is the "Mother Orange Tree," which grew from three orange seeds planted here in 1856.

Westbound: 11:05 A.M.
Eastbound: 2:15 P.M.
Altitude: 60 ft.
San Francisco: 179 mi.
Chicago: 2358 mi.

An early distributing point for the gold "diggins", now a brisk city - the center of farming and orchards, and commonly known as the "Peach Bowl" of the world. Numerous fruit canning and drying plants are located here.

Westbound: 0 11:45 A.M.
Eastbound: 0 1:35 P.M.
Altitude: 23 ft.
San Francisco: 140 mi.
Chicago: 2397 mi.

Gold was discovered near here on January 24, 1848, by James W. Marshall. The discovery marked the beginning of a great Empire now the State of California. Mining is still carried on in this area.

Westbound: 11:50 A.M.
Eastbound: 1:30 P.M.
Altitude 30 ft.
San Francisco: 139 mi.
Chicago: 2398 mi.

Sacramento, founded in 1839, was the western terminus for the Pony Express and "the store" for miners during the Gold Rush Era. Today, it is the Capital of California and the center of a fertile agricultural region. It is also the site of Sutter's Fort, erected in 1839 by Captain John Sutter, discoverer of gold in California.

Westbound: 12:52 P.M.
Eastbound: 12:32 P.M.
Altitude: 20 ft.
San Francisco: 94 mi.
Chicago: 2443 mi.

Stockton is the principal city in the San Joaquin Valley . . . a region noted for its food canning operations and for its wine and flowers. Stockton is an important inland seaport of the San Joaquin River.

Westbound: 0 1:47 P.M.
Eastbound: 0 11:42 A.M.
Altitude: 485 ft.
San Francisco: 48 mi.
Chicago: 2489 mi.

The delightful agricultural community nestled in a lovely valley in Alameda County was named for Robert Livermore, who, following the early Mission Fathers, was the first to engage in fruit, grape and grain culture.

Westbound: 2:15 P.M.
Eastbound: 11:20 A.M.
Altitude: 45 ft.
San Francisco: 30 mi.
Chicago: 2,507 mi.

At Fremont a branch line of the Western Pacific extends to San Jose, serving Milpitas where the Ford Assembly Plant, the largest of its kind on the Pacific Coast, is located.

Westbound: 3:00 P.M.
Eastbound: 10:40 A.M.
Altitude: 25 ft.
San Francisco: 7 mi.
Chicago: 2530 mi.

Oakland, on the east shore of the San Francisco Bay, third largest city in California, is an important shipping center. Located here is Mills College. In nearby Berkeley is the University of California (world's largest university).

Westbound: 3:15 P.M.
Eastbound: 10:28 A.M.
Altitude: 14 ft.
San Francisco: 4 mi.
Chicago: 2533 mi.

The California Zephyr terminates at the shores of the East Bay. Passengers embark for a thrilling ferryboat ride of three and a half miles across the Bay to San Francisco.


San Francisco Bay is seventy miles in length and from three to ten miles in width. Here is the Gateway to the Pacific through which ships have for generations carried products of America to the Orient and brought back goods from faraway countries.

Paralleling the route of the ferryboat is the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge, longest bridge in the world. Two huge suspension spans connect San Francisco with Yerba Buena Island, and a cantilever suspension from the island to the East shore. While passing under the Bridge, one may see the famed Golden Gate Bridge, the longest suspension bridge in the world, which connects San Francisco with the Northern Coast. Also visible from the ferryboat is the Federal Penitentiary on Alcatraz Island, as well as Treasure Island, where San Francisco held its last great International Exposition, and which today is an important United States Naval Base.

Westbound: 3:50 P.M. (P.T.)
Eastbound: 10:00 A.M. (P.T.)
Altitude: 65 ft.
Chicago: 2537 mi.

"The city loved around the world" is a great and gay metropolis, with a golden background of industry, trade and finance, and a character and charm found nowhere else. There is fascination in its hill - its ocean and bay shores along the thumb-like peninsula - its thrilling boulevards and parks which link many foreign quarters, each with its own quaint customs - its unusually fine hostelries and world-famous eating places – its versatility of manufacture and import-export trade. A monument to "The days of gold, the days of old, the days of '49", San Francisco offers to the traveler and visitor beauty, culture, gay amusement - rare gifts from a cosmopolitan community that is known as "The City that Knows How."

C.T. - Central Time . . . M.T. - Mountain Time . . . P.T. - Pacific Time

This route description is prior to July 1958.