Dining on the Denver Zephyr

The Denver Zephyr‘s dining cars were remarkably similar to those of the California Zephyr, from the Pierre Bourdelle linoleum carvings at the steward’s stations to the Mary Lawser sculptures of grapes and grape leaves above the entry ways. The dining rooms also had large etched glass mirrors by Hamilton Carved Glass.

Click the images to download larger versions of the covers of these menu. The interiors of my copies are blank so they aren’t included.

One difference was in the menus, which in the Denver Zephyr‘s case are based on paintings hung in each of the double-bedrooms and compartments on the train. The wildflower paintings on the menus and in the rooms were done by Kathryn Fligg, who has been incorrectly credited with doing murals in the Twin Zephyr and California Zephyr dome-coaches, but in fact did the murals in the Kansas City Zephyr domes.

Fligg received her degree in from the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts in 1951 and started working for Budd soon after, probably 1952. After working for Budd, she did murals for some buildings and later (after marrying and becoming Kathryn Fligg Lee) got into collages, some of which are posted on her web site.

I’ve identified six paintings from the menus/bedrooms:

  • Buttercup, anemone, and fringed gentian;
  • Wild rose and lupin;
  • Vetch, wild rose, and sand lily;
  • Butter and eggs, asters, and wild pink;
  • Columbine and deer vine;
  • Coneflower and daisies.

I suspect there were at least two more.

Update: I have corresponded with Kathryn Fligg Lee, who says she started working with Budd in 1952, doing murals for the Kansas City Zephyr. Murals for earlier zephyrs must have been done by another artist, probably Pierre Bourdelle.

Lee also says she did a total of 115 wildflower paintings, which were hung in sleeping car compartments of the Denver Zephyr. The paintings shown on these menus represent only a small sample of her work. I hope her original paintings have been preserved somewhere.


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