Amtrak California Zephyr

In April, 1983, the Rio Grande Railroad stopped running its three-day-a-week Rio Grande Zephyr and allowed Amtrak to run its Chicago-Oakland train over Rio Grande rails between Denver and Ogden. With that change, Amtrak renamed its San Francisco Zephyr to the more classic California Zephyr. Amtrak’s train didn’t have dome cars, but the new route was far more scenic than the previous route through southern Wyoming. This brochure, dated “effective April 24, 1983,” celebrates that change with major emphasis on the scenery and minor emphasis on the on-board amenities.

Click image to download a 3.8-MB PDF of this brochure.

The Rio Grande Zephyr was the last regularly scheduled Silver Age train, and for those of us who loved such trains April 24 was a day of mourning. I was on the last run of the Rio Grande Zephyr and reported on it in Passenger Train Journal. I recently rode the California Zephyr, and Amtrak employees are doing a decent job of hosting passengers. But the food is lousy and I still miss the dome cars.


Amtrak California Zephyr — 1 Comment

  1. Took this Amtrak “California Zephyr” on our honeymoon in early December of 1983. The food was a far cry from the Burlington-Rio Grande-Western Pacific days, the shower was constantly going cold in our Deluxe Bedroom and the best thing about the train, after the scenery which will always be glorious, was the microwave popcorn in the “Sightseer Lounge”.

    Budd probably never realized it, but those dome cars were a pinnacle in travel. I’d bet that Drawing Room shower in the observation car was as well. How far we have fallen.

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