Host Railroad: Burlington Northern (Chicago, Burlington & Quincy)
Amtrak Operated: May 1, 1971 to October 26, 1973
Named for: The Colorado city that was the western terminus of the train
Pre-Amtrak History: The Chicago, Burlington & Quincy launched the Denver Zephyr between Chicago and Denver on May 31, 1936, with a 10-car partly articulated streamlined passenger car set that had been built by Budd. At 1,034 miles it was the longest streamliner train operated by the Burlington. In response to the Union Pacific assigning new equipment to its City of Denver, which also operated between Chicago and Denver, the Burlington ordered new equipment for its Denver Zephyr in 1955. This made the Denver Zephyr the last passenger train to receive a complete set of new streamlined equipment.
Amtrak History: The Denver Zephyr was one of three pre-Amtrak trains that were consolidated to create a Chicago-Oakland, California, train. The DZ operated daily between Chicago and Denver. Starting with the timetable of Nov. 14, 1971, the DZ merited its own listing because it operated daily whereas the train west of Denver operated tri-weekly for much of the year.
In mid 1971, Amtrak began operating separate the Denver and Oakland sections on the days when the train was scheduled to run west of Denver. This ended in the fall. Amtrak for a time also published separate on-time performance and ridership reports for the Denver and Oakland sections.
Nos. 5 and 6 continued to have set-out cars for Denver in Amtrak’s early years. The Denver Zephyr name and numbers continued to be shown in Amtrak schedules until the timetable change of Oct. 26, 1973.