The Burlington Zephyrs
The Chicago, Burlington & Quincy introduced the three-car Zephyr, the first in a series of lightweight stainless steel streamliners, in 1934. The Zephyr (later called Pioneer Zephyr) captured national attention with an initial Denver-Chicago run of 13 hours, 4 minutes.
The first four Zephyrs (the Pioneer, Mark Twain, and the original pair of Twin Cities Zephyrs) were articulated with their power cars; later versions had separate locomotives. Equipment from the 1940's and later used individual, non-articulated stainless steel cars. The fleet of silver Zephyr streamliners was justly known for comfort, speed, and — later — amenities such as dome cars. The CB&Q built the first dome car in its own Aurora Shops in 1945. Within six months, forty more of the popular cars were ordered for use on the Zephyr fleet.
Zephyrs operated throughuot CB&Q's system. The best-known was perhaps the Chicago-Oakland California Zephyr, which also ran on Western Pacific and Denver & Rio Grande Western west of Denver.
Adjacent cars of an articulated train share a single supporting "truck," or set of wheels. The cars are semi-permanently coupled together, and cannot be added or removed without major work.
The first lightweight streamliners, appearing in 1934, were fully articulated. Chicago, Burlington & Quincy's Pioneer Zephyr and Union Pacific's M-10000 each had a power car articulated with two trailing passenger cars. Later articulateds were larger (up to 12 cars), and most had separate locomotives rather than integral power cars.
Articulateds have several disadvantages: If any one car needs repairs, the entire train must be taken out of service; Seating capacity is fixed, regardless of ridership; And at the end of the run, the entire train must be reversed on a wye or turning track. As a result, articulation lost favor by the 1940's. The idea reappeared (successfully this time) fifty years later on freight cars designed to carry truck trailers, cargo containers, and multi-level auto racks.
Nebraska Zephyr — "Train of the Goddesses"
In 1936, CB&Q replaced the original three-car Twin Cities Zephyrs between Chicago and Minneapolis-St. Paul with two six-car trains. Each articulated set had an auxiliary power/baggage car, a diner, two coaches, a parlor-drawing room car, and a parlor-lounge-observation car. The cars were named for ancient goddesses on one train and gods on the other. The trains each received new dinette-coach cars in 1937, and often ran with standard cars added at the front.
In 1947, both trains were overhauled for use on the Chicago-Lincoln (Nebraska) route as the Nebraska Zephyr. By 1964, the dinette and drawing room cars had been removed, leaving five-car sets. In 1966, the dining cars were downgraded to vending-machine cafeteria cars.
Both trains were retired in 1968. The Train of the Goddesses was purchased by an IRM member, along with the one remaining E5 locomotive, and has been restored to its 1965 form. It is the only operational Zephyr and the only operational articulated streamliner.