Burlington Zephyrs Photo Archive America’s Distinctive trains by John Kelly SC
Burlington Zephyrs Photo Archive America’s Distinctive trains by John Kelly SC
Burlington Zephyrs Photo Archive America’s Distinctive trains by John Kelly SC
Burlington Zephyrs Photo Archive America’s Distinctive trains by John Kelly SC
Burlington Zephyrs Photo Archive America’s Distinctive trains by John Kelly SC

Burlington Zephyrs Photo Archive America’s Distinctive trains by John Kelly SC

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Burlington Zephyrs Photo Archive America’s Distinctive trains by John Kelly SC
Burlington Zephyrs Photo Archive Americas Distinctive trains by John Kelly
Soft Cover
126 pages
Copyright 2004
The Chicago, Burlington & Quincy (CB&Q), popularly known as the Burlington Route, suggests images of big-time railroading and the largest fleet of streamliners in the United States: the Burlington Zephyrs. The Zephyr idea originated in 1932 when Burlington President Ralph Budd noted declining passenger revenue on his railroad because of the Great Depression and the ascendance of automobiles and airplanes. He realized that something unique was needed to lure passengers back to train travel. Ralph Budd chose the name Zephyr for his new train after the "God of West Wind" in Greek mythology. On April 7, 1934, CB&Q introduced Zephyr 9900, built by the Budd Company (no relation to Ralph Budd) in Philadelphia. The train was assembled using Budd's "Shotweld" patented system of stainless all-steel construction. The rakish, shovelnose Zephyr 9900 and combination baggage-buffet-chair car 505, plus coach-parlor-observation car 570 were the vanguard of the Zephyr fleet. Burlington powered its ultramodern motor train with a Winton eight-cylinder 600-horsepower diesel engine. The aerodynamic, pocket streamliner was 197 feet long, carried 72 passengers, and was capable of speeds in excess of 100 mph.
On May 26, 1934, Burlington staged one of the greatest transportation events of the decade when Zephyr 9900 raced 1,015 miles in a record-breaking (13 hours 5 minutes) non-stop, dawn-to-dusk run at an average speed of 77.6 mph from Denver to Chicago's Century of Progress Transportation Fair. The Zephyr had set a world record for fast, long distance travel. Zephyr 9900 was later renamed Pioneer Zephyr and entered revenue service between Kansas City-Omaha-Lincoln on November 11, 1934. By the end of its first year of service, the Pioneer Zephyr had earned $95,000 in profits through increased ridership plus lower operating and maintenance costs compared to Burlington steam-powered trains. For CB&Q, the Pioneer Zephyr was the silver bullet that returned passengers to rail travel. By 1960, it had logged 3,222,898 miles when it was donated to Chicago's Museum of Science and Industry, where it is proudly displayed today. CB&Q management was so pleased with the success of the Pioneer Zephyr that soon fleets of Zephyr trains were added to the Burlington Route.
In 1935, one of the busiest passenger corridors in the Midwest was between Chicago and St. Paul-Minneapolis. It was here CB&Q chose to run its second and third Zephyr trains, in direct competition with Milwaukee Road's Hiawatha and Chicago & North Western's 400. The original, three-car Twin Zephyrs, 9901 and 9902, were inaugurated April 21, 1935. From Chicago Union Station, the Twin Zephyrs followed the Burlington commuter lines 38 miles west to Aurora, where the mainline diverged to Galesburg or Savanna, Illinois. From Savanna, it was a fast ride along the east bank of the Mississippi River to St. Paul, Minnesota. The Twin Zephyrs were so successful that CB&Q management recognized the need for bigger and better trains. In keeping with the Zephyr theme, locomotives and cars ordered for the second Twin Zephyrs, which premiered December 18, 1936, were again named after Greek mythology and known as "Train of the Gods and Goddesses." Led by locomotives 9904 Pegasus and 9905 Zephyrus, the car names included Apollo, Neptune, Mars, Vulcan, Mercury, Jupiter, Venus, Vesta, Minerva, Ceres, Diana, and Juno. The modern trains looked brilliant in silver and fluted stainless-steel finish. The name "Burlington" stood out in black sans serif lettering across the top letterboard of each car. Interior decor was art deco luxury with stainless-steel moldings, tubular lights, and pastel shades of blue, gray, and green. The sleek exterior design, including truck shrouds, of the updated Twin Zephyrs (later renamed Morning Zephyr and Afternoon Zephyr) contributed to the smooth, flowing streamlined style. The original Twin Zephyrs (9901 and 9902) eventually moved into service as the Sam Houston Zephyr (9901, Houston and Dallas-Ft. Worth), and Ozark State Zephyr (9902, Kansas City and St. Louis).
The Mark Twain Zephyr was the fourth Zephyr delivered to the CB&Q. Locomotive 9903 entered service October 28, 1935, from St. Louis, Missouri to Burlington, Iowa. The Mark Twain Zephyr was a four-car articulated train, similar in style to the original Twin Zephyrs. On May 31, 1936, CB&Q hastily transferred the Pioneer Zephyr and Mark Twain Zephyr to Chicago-Denver service. The trains were billed as Advance Denver Zephyrs, christened with new names, to beat Union Pacific's new City of Denver train, which was scheduled to begin service June 18, 1936. Meanwhile, the Budd Company was building new, overnight trains for the CB&Q, to be called Denver Zephyrs. The stainless-steel coaches and sleeping cars were not fully articulated into a single unit, but partially articulated in groups of three; the motive power was a separate unit. The larger, Denver Zephyrs required additional power, so CB&Q asked Electro-Motive Corporation in La Grange, Illinois, to design a shovelnose A-unit housing a pair of V-12 1,800-horsepower engines, coupled to a cabless booster B-unit, containing a single V-16 1,200-horsepower-rated engine. Both units rode on standard four-wheel trucks with a longer wheelbase. The Denver Zephyr locomotives were the first multiple-units on the Burlington roster. Beginning a CB&Q tradition, Denver Zephyr locomotives and cars were prefixed with the name Silver. Locomotive 9906A was "Silver King" and 9906B was "Silver Queen," while 9907A was "Silver Knight" and 9907B was "Silver Princess." On November 8, 1936, the trademark Burlington shovelnose locomotives were in vogue when they premiered as the Denver Zephyrs, on a fast 15-hour 50-minute, 1,034-mile overnight run from Chicago to Denver.
On April 20, 1939, the first non-articulated Zephyr made its debut with service between Kansas City and St. Louis, Missouri. The small, three-car train was named "General Pershing" Zephyr in honor of World War I General John Pershing. Shovelnose 9908, a combination locomotive-baggage car, was named "Silver Charger" after Pershing's horse. Locomotive 9908 was the most advanced of the shovelnose units and the last built. "Silver Charger" powered other Zephyr trains and remained on the Burlington roster until 1966, when it was donated to the St. Louis Museum of Transport for permanent display. The 11 shovelnose A-B units served the Burlington for 32 years, from 1934 to 1966. In 1940 and 1941, Burlington ordered 12 custom built diesels from Electro-Motive. Of these, nine were slant-nosed E5 cab units and three were booster units, all stainless steel to match the distinctive trains they intended to pull. Two of the last prewar additions to the Zephyr fleet were the Texas Zephyr (Denver-Dallas-Ft. Worth) in August 1940, and the Silver Streak Zephyr in April 1940. The Silver Streak replaced the original Pioneer Zephyr on the Kansas City-Omaha-Lincoln route. Another unique train was the Zephyr-Rocket, a partnership between Burlington and the Rock Island Railroad inaugurated in January 1941. The new train provided service from Minneapolis to Burlington, Iowa (via Rock Island) and from Burlington, Iowa, to St. Louis, Missouri (via Burlington Route).
In 1945, the innovative CB&Q introduced glass-topped Vista-Dome coaches. The first dome coach was built in Burlington's Aurora Shops and named "Silver Dome." The new dome car proved so popular that Burlington, in cooperation with Denver & Rio Grande Western, and Western Pacific, had 53 of them built by the Budd Company. The Vista-Domes debuted December 19, 1947, on the third and final set of Twin Zephyrs. The dome cars offered Burlington passengers' dramatic views of the upper Mississippi Valley's natural beauty. CB&Q route guides touted cliff-high palisades and abundant wildlife as the Mississippi River Scenic Line, "Where nature smiles 300 miles." The Twin Zephyrs were the first streamliners in the United States to feature regularly scheduled dome cars. These new trains were rated the finest in the Zephyr fleet and they were fast. The sleek trains sped the distance between Chicago and the Twin Cities in 6 hours 45 minutes. For many years, the Morning Zephyr-Train 21 had the fastest overall running time in the world, 84 mph between East Dubuque, Illinois, and Prairie du Chien, Wisconsin. Burlington was also a forwarder of passenger traffic for parent Hill Lines (Great Northern/Northern Pacific) in the busy Chicago-Twin Cities corridor. In later years, Great Northern's Empire Builder and Northern Pacific's North Coast Limited were often combined with the Twin Zephyrs on the St. Paul-Chicago portion of their transcontinental runs. Both flagship trains looked superb behind pairs of CB&Q silver E-units.

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