Way of the Zephyrs

  • Model: BK-20-970

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Way of the Zephyrs
by Geoffrey H. Doughty

Hardbound, 160 pages, 100-lb glossy paper; hundreds of illustrations; first published 2005.

This is one of the best, if not the best and most well-researched and cogently presented history of the CB&Q (Burlington Route) Zephyr streamliner trains ever published. However, it received little real attention when first issued 15 years ago. We have a couple of boxes of these left over from that time.

 Author Geoffrey H. Doughty did a simply masterful job in pulling together detailed historical data about each of the Burlington's Zephyr streamliners. He organizes this history around major periods in the evolution of these trains, starting with the Pioneer Zephyr of 1934 which helped introduce the streamliner trend in American railroading.

 He tells of the introduction of the Vista-Dome cars and Burlington's expansion of its fleet. Of course, the key train in the whole fleet was the California Zephyr, which has had several books published just about it. Doughty weaves its story into the overall fabric of his treatment so that one can see how, though it was by far the most famous train of the line, it was part of a cohesive system of very high-class trains.

The Denver Zephyr gets a chapter to itself as perhaps the second most important train in the fleet. A chapter toward the end tells the story of the "sumbercoach" sleeping car when efforts were being made to offer budget-minded passengers a new alternative and to help stem the flow of traffic to airlines.

 The success of these trains was mimicked by numerous railroads throughout the 1930s, but C&O didn't participate. Yet, Robert Young patterned much of his postwar passenger progress ideas for C&O on these very trains. He carried it a step beyond Burlington's cars with the built-but-never-operated luxury coach streamliner The Chessie.

Photos come from the Burlington archives and many other sources present some of the best inside-the-train scenes ever. The illustrations are superb, and the writing is excellent in every regard.

This is, in this reviewer's mind, the best book ever on these important, epoch-making trains, especially with regard to the historical context. -  Tom Dixon

Originally published at $34.95 -- Buy it today for $19.95!

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