After the Southern Crescent was taken over by Amtrak in 1978, the last private long-distance train in America was the Rio Grande Zephyr. This was a remnant of the California Zephyr, using cars from the Rio Grande’s share of the California Zephyr plus a baggage-combine from the Prospector. With just one train set, the train operated three days a week from Denver to Salt Lake, three days in the other direction, and rested on Wednesdays.
Meals in the dining car remained a step above Amtrak. Even this 1978 lunch menu had three table d’hôte items: fillet of fish, chopped sirloin steak, or omelet, plus five other sandwiches (each with a cup of soup). Multiply prices by three to get today’s dollars.
With four former California Zephyr dome coaches–Silver Bronco, Colt, Mustang, and Pony–plus the Silver Sky dome observation car, the Rio Grande Zephyr normally ran with up to five domes. Silver Banquet served as the dining car. When demand was especially high one of two former sleeping cars–Silver Aspen and Silver Pine–that had been converted to coaches carried any coach passengers who couldn’t fit into the four dome coaches.