Posts Tagged ‘San Francisco Zephyr’

Scenic Passage Through the Sierra Nevada Mountains

May 8, 2020

Back in the 1970s Amtrak trains 5 and 6 were named the San Francisco Zephyr, an amalgamation of the names of two trains that were combined to create the route in 1971.

That would have been the City of San Francisco from Union Pacific and the Denver Zephyr from Burlington Northern.

Amtrak wanted to operate the California Zephyr, but by 1971 it’s Western Pacific segment had been discontinued.

That left a “California Service” remnant that used BN, the Denver & Rio Grande Western, and Southern Pacific.

Then the D&RGW declined to join Amtrak thus the amalgamation.

It is July 31, 1979, and I am riding Train No. 5 to Oakland. We’re twisting and turning our way through the Sierra Nevada Mountains of California and the crew doesn’t mind if you make photographs from open vestibule windows.

Winding Through the Mountains

February 15, 2020

It is July 31, 1979. I’m riding the westbound San Francisco Zephyr en route to Oakland, California, after having boarded in Denver the day before.

No. 5 is twisting and turning through the Sierra Nevada Mountains of California on the tracks of Southern Pacific.

Up front pulling the train is a pair of SDP40F locomotives.

It’s my first trip on this route and I’m not sure where I made this photograph.

But it was out an open vestibule door window. It was quite a warm day and by the time we got out of the mountains the air conditioning has ceased working in some cars.

Standing by an open vestibule window felt good.

Sunset in Rawlins

January 30, 2019

Amtrak’s westbound San Francisco Zephyr is making a service stop in Rawlins, Wyoming, which gave me time to get off the train and made a few images.

It is right before sunset on Oct. 25, 1981. I tried to work the sunset into a few angles with mixed results.

I was actually ticketed to Los Angeles via the Desert Wind, which ran combined with the SFZ east of Ogden, Utah.

The Wind is now long gone and the SFZ has been renamed California Zephyr and given a new route that bypasses Rawlins.

Although this trip was not my first experience with Superliner equipment, it was one of my earliest trips on the then-new cars.

Taking Out the Trash in Denver

January 7, 2017

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It’s late October 1981 at Denver Union Station. Amtrak’s westbound San Francisco Zephyr has backed into the station and servicing of the train has begun.

Superliner equipment has been a mainstay on the route for less than two years. The dining car crew has quite a bit of trash to discard that it has left on the platform.

Once the F40PH locomotives are refueled, the train cleaned and water put into the tanks, No. 6 will depart.

At the time that this image was made, Nos. 5/6 used the Union Pacific mainline through Wyoming. Through cars for Los Angeles will be detached at Ogden to be forwarded on the Desert Wind.

A Surprise the Next Morning

October 13, 2016

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I had booked a room aboard Amtrak train No. 5 to Denver on the second leg of an ambitious journey by Amtrak that would see me traveling nearly coast to coast by rail.

I left Chicago Union Station in late afternoon on Oct. 24, 1981, aboard what was then the San Francisco Zephyr. It was not my first trip aboard Amtrak’s new Superliner equipment, but would be my first time traveling in a Superliner sleeper.

Most of the initial trip out of Chicago occurred during darkness and I don’t remember seeing much, if anything in Iowa. My dominant memory of this trip is how comfortable and cozy I felt inside my room aboard the train.

Somewhere in Nebraska the next morning I was surprised to look out my window and see that the ground was covered with snow.

I grabbed my camera, went to a vestibule door, opened the window and made this image.

If you did that today Amtrak personnel would let you know that it is not allowed. Maybe they felt that way then, too, but I just opened the window long to get the image and go back to my room.

The original slide of this image has badly faded, but the wizardry of digital scanning combined with Photoshop enabled me to bring it back to life.

My recollection is that the original slide was overexposed, so this is as good as it could be.

There is something about this image that makes it one of favorites from this era. The red, white and silver of the two F40PH locomotives leading the train add a touch of color to an otherwise barren and white landscape.

I also like how the tracks snake through the snow, lending a sense of going somewhere.

It was the Burlington Northern back then and under BNSF ownership today these tracks probably are still busy.

By the time we reached Denver, the snow was gone and I would not see any more of it during my trip. It must have been a fairly localized storm.