America's most talked-about train, the California Zephyr was inaugurated March 20, 1949, book-ended by the world-class skylines of Chicago and San Francisco. Operated in partnership over three railroads; Chicago, Burlington & Quincy, Denver & Rio Grande, and Western Pacific, the train was designed in Art Deco style and built of Shotwelded stainless-steel by the Budd Company. The California Zephyr incorporated the best of the Zephyr fleet including Vista-Dome coaches and Vista-Dome observation cars. Powered by General Motors diesel locomotives the western themed "land-cruise" train traveled 2,532 miles on its journey from Chicago traversing the spectacular Colorado Rockies via the 6.2-mile Moffat Tunnel and California's magnificent Feather River Canyon - by daylight in both directions. Vintage equipment diagrams include California Zephyr baggage car, Vista-Dome coach, Vista-Dome buffet-dormitory car, dining car, bedroom-cabin car and Vista-Dome bedroom-buffet-lounge-observation car. Other highlights feature original trip reports by "Zephyrette" hostesses, travel brochures, timetables, dining car menus and full-color photo gallery of the stunning California Zephyr.
John Kelly grew up in Eau Claire, Wisconsin, where his dad's best friend, an engineer on the Chicago & NorthWestern, gave him and his brother occasional midnight cab rides on C&NW freight trains from Altoona to Elroy, Wisconsin. As a teenager, he enjoyed watching C&NW, Milwaukee Road and Soo Line trains come through his home town. Given his hobby of railroad history, John has written articles for Trains magazine, Trains.com, and Vintage Rails and has also authored a number of books on streamlined passenger trains, including Streamliners to the Twin Cities, Interurban Trains to Chicago, and Chicago Stations & Trains. In 2009, John co-authored Trains to Victory--America's Railroads in World War II--with Don Heimburger. Railroads of Milwaukee continues John's interest in Midwestern cities that offered passenger train service. His memories of the Milwaukee Road include photo outings to the Milwaukee Shops--in 1922 it was one of the largest rail car complexes in the United States--and diesel service facilities in the late 1970's. It was exciting to stand near the 35th Street Viaduct, he says, and take photos of the various locomotives and sprawling railroad yards. John is also a volunteer-docent for the innovative National Park Service-Amtrak partnership Trails & Rails program during the summer travel season. This program provides rail passengers with the educational opportunities that foster an appreciation of a selected region's natural and cultural heritage. He joined Trails & Rails in 2007, completing four years as a docent on Amtrak's famed Empire Builder between Chicago and Winona, Minnesota. In addition, he volunteers with the Center for Railroad Photography & Art in Madison, Wisconsin, archiving historic railroad images.