California Zephyr Baggage Cars

Head-end equipment on passenger trains usually were coupled onto the train directly behind the locomotives and were not used or occupied by paying passengers. This type of equipment could include baggage/combine and express cars, such as a RPO (Railway Post Office) and Railway Express Agency equipment, and as used by WP in the later years of the Zephyrs existence, heater cars. The CZ did not use a RPO or Railway Express Agency equipment, they did have baggage cars. Although these cars were utilitarian in nature and use that did not mean they could not be stylish.

Baggage cars for the CZ were built to match the rest of the train complete with full length skirting. They were also the shortest car of the train measuring just 72 feet 8 inches. Unlike the rest of the train the baggage car was not open for the passengers so did not have the passenger pleasing appointments as found in the rest of the train.

These cars were named after wild animals that were native to the areas the train passed through. CB&Q cars numbered 903-905 carried the names Silver Bear, Buffalo and Coyote were the D&RGW 1100 was the Silver Antelope. WP laid claim to the names Silver Beaver and Stag for cars 801 and 802.

With two doors on each side, located 17 feet from the end of the car the doors on the “B” end were double doors 9 feet wide while those at the “A” end were single 5-foot doors. Thirty-five feet of the car was reserved for the transport of express freight, until 1966 when Railway Express Agency canceled the contract, with the rest of the car for passenger luggage and special movement items. They were equipped with two folding baggage shelves as well as wet racks, a letter case and a folding desk. In an alcove on the right side at the “A” end was a toilet, folding wash basin and a water cooler.

Each car received two 1000-gallon water tanks as a supplemental supply for the steam generators carried in the motive power. A glad hand coupling was installed inside the diaphragm area of the car and would be connected to the existing water transfer system piping on the locomotives. A switch was installed on the collision post of the baggage car and when closed would transfer the water from the two belly tanks to the tanks in the locomotives thus assuring that a shortage of boiler water would not occur. Occasionally the water supply pipe from the baggage car would freeze. In 1949 a copper pipe from the steam line to the water supply line was installed which alleviated this problem. These tanks were generally not in use by early 1952 and totally out of service by the end of 1954. These were also the only cars on the train without a porter assigned.

Baggage Car Small Door Right
Baggage Car Small Door Left