A Dedicated Stable Protected the Rio Grande Zephyr
Note: The pictures marked with “WW” were provided me by A.C. Woodward, who took them in Grand Junction during the last run of the RGZ. These images have all been re-scanned at a much higher quality as of 11/11/05.
The usual power for the train was a matched set of three EMD F9 locomotives. On occasion, if one of the units required maintenance, a freight unit would be substituted (and usually leading). Patrick/Loveman show GP9’s, GP30’s, and GP40/GP40-2’s being used.
Since the ex-CZ cars used steam heat, a steam generator car was employed during winter
(and later nearly year-round) to augment the steam provided by the two B units. Two cars had been rebuilt in the 1960s from the frames & bodies of Alco PB-1 locomotives (originally purchased to help pull the CZ).
Baggage was handled by one of the combines (half-baggage, half-coach) left over from the Rio Grande’s erstwhile overnight train, the Prospector. These cars also served as passenger overflow cars on trips with heavy booking. There were two of them, differentiated slightly by some additional small windows on one.
First, a note about the stainless-steel cars. These were all originally ordered as the Rio Grande’s contribution to the California Zephyr (plus six sleepers). After the CZ‘s demise, the large nameboards above the windows that had carried the California Zephyr lettering were removed. The sleepers were all sold off, and never used on the RGZ.
There were two flat-top chair cars. These were rebuilt from sleepers to 48-seat coaches in 1964.
|WW||SILVER PINE, car No. 1121.|
|WW||SILVER ASPEN, car No. 1120.|
Four Vista-Dome chair cars were available. These featured 24-seat domes for the sight-seeing pleasure of riders.
|WW||SILVER BRONCO, Car No. 1105.|
SILVER COLT, Car No. 1106. Note the small conductor’s window located next to the door.
|WW||SILVER MUSTANG, car No. 1107. Note the small conductor’s window
located next to the door.
|SILVER PONY, Car No. 1108.|
The Rio Grande Zephyr always ran with a dining car, wherein one could have steak and eggs for breakfast, or Rocky Mountain Trout for dinner. Truly, it was a magnificent experience to dine there.
The Vista-dome observation car SILVER SKY brought up the markers.
|WW||Symbol of elegance from a bygone era, the SILVER SKY served as the lounge car, and was truly a marvelous place from which to enjoy the ride.
Car No. 1145.
On occasion, the Vista-dome dormitory cafe car SILVER SHOP would put in an appearance.
|WW||SILVER SHOP, car No. 1140, usually only saw service as a substitute for the SKY or the BANQUET, or on special-occasion runs of the RGZ. It ran
quite a bit in early 1983.