Aboard the Denver Zephyr

The overnight Denver Zephyr left Chicago at 5:30 pm and arrived in Denver at 8:30 am, in time for a full business day. The City of Denver left Chicago at, perhaps, a slightly more convenient 6:20 pm but arrived in Denver at 9:20 am, causing business travelers to lose about an hour of the business day. The Zephyr served Lincoln, Nebraska, while the City served Cedar Rapids and Ames, Iowa.

On board the Zephyr, you might want to use a postcard to dash off a note to a friend. The postcards, naturally, advertised the train and were likely to mention the 1936 record run made from Chicago to Denver in 12 hours and 12 minutes for an average speed of 83.3 mph. Both the Zephyr and the City were scheduled to take exactly 16 hours westbound and 16 hours and 38 minutes eastbound (why does downhill take longer than uphill?), for an average speed of about 65 mph–the City was slightly faster because of a slightly longer route.

Click to download a PDF of the front and back of this postcard.

Then you might head to the diner. Unfortunately, the only menus I have for the Denver Zephyr are from a Shriner’s convention, so they don’t show the full range of food available to most riders. But this is a typical table d’hôte menu found on my dining cars in which patrons could choose from two appetizers, three entrées, two vegetables, a salad, and three desserts. Note that the cover subtle connects the skyscrapers of Chicago with the cool forests of Colorado.

Click to download a PDF of this Denver Zephyr dinner menu.

After dinner, you might go to the lounge car to write a longer letter on stationery thoughtfully provided by the railroad. This stationery was typically folded once to be four pages long, with a discrete logo or other reference to the train. My PDFs of such stationery only show the first page as the rest are blank. Unfortunately, the only example I have of stationery for the early Denver Zephyr was folded a couple of times.

Click to download a PDF of this Denver Zephyr stationery.

After a comfortable night in your berth, or slightly less comfortable night in a coach seat, you may want to have breakfast aboard the train. This menu, featuring Colorado dude ranches, came from the same Shriner’s convention, and features a table d’hote choice of seven appetizers, four entrées, two breads, and six beverages.

Click to download a PDF of this Denver Zephyr breakfast menu.

While you are eating, you should be able to see the Rocky Mountains growing out of the horizon from the Colorado plains. If your destination in Colorado is somewhere outside of Denver, you might take the Denver & Rio Grande Western’s Royal Gorge, which conveniently leaves Denver just a half hour after the Zephyr arrives, to Colorado Springs, Pueblo, Glenwood Springs, Grand Junction, or any of numerous points between.

Click to download a PDF of this Rio Grande postcard.

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