Posts Tagged ‘Silver Rapids’

Exploring CVSR’s Silver Fleet: Part 1

October 15, 2018

The Fall Flyer with the Silver Solarium on the north end arrives in the station at Rockside Road.

Three-fifths of the CVSR’s Silver fleet is visible in this image made at Jaite. Shown (right to left) are Silver Bronco, Silver Lariat and Silver Solarium.

Sleeper Silver Rapids made its CVSR debut this month on the Fall Flyer. Passengers could book rooms, but only traveled for two hours and not overnight.

An air of mystery surrounds the world of private railroad cars. The phrase “private varnish” conjures images of opulent surroundings; gourmet dining on fine china; and all of the trappings of wealth, power and authority.

Traveling in a private car is far from the experience of a journey in an Amtrak Amfleet coach.

I was expecting to get a glimpse into that world as I boarded dome-observation car Silver Solarium on Saturday at the Rockside Road station of the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad.

Fellow Akron Railroad Club member Edward Ribinskas had purchased four tickets for the dome section of the Silver Solarium, which this month is operating on CVSR Fall Flyer.

I wasn’t expecting so much to travel like a king as I was seeking to see how kings traveled at one time.

Of course Silver Solarium wasn’t built to transport royalty. It began life in 1948 on the assembly line at Budd, which built it as Chicago, Burlington & Quincy No. 377.

The Q assigned the car to the fabled California Zephyr, where it was one of six dome-observation-sleepers used on the CZ.

The three railroads that hosted the CZ, the CB&Q, Denver & Rio Grande Western, and Western Pacific, described it as “the most talked about train in America.”

It traversed the heart of the Colorado Rocky Mountains and California’s Sierra Nevada Mountains, offering some of the best scenery in the West.

In short, it personified the best that the streamliner era had to offer along with such other headliners as Santa Fe’s Super Chief, Union Pacific’s City of Los Angeles, Northern Pacific’s North Coast Limited, and Great Northern’s Empire Builder.

Today the mere mention of those trains prompts a longing for a paradise lost.

The CZ also was known for its Zephyrettes, the young women who provided a variety of tasks ranging from welcoming passengers to providing first aid to serving as a liaison between passengers and crew members.

The CZ began its final trips on March 20, 1970, but the story of the Silver Solarium didn’t end there.

Until the coming of Amtrak in 1971, the successor of the Q, the Burlington Northern, operated a tri-weekly “California Service” that involved making a transfer at Ogden, Utah, to the City of San Francisco, which Southern Pacific operated between Ogden and Oakland, California.

The Silver Solarium joined the Amtrak fleet as No. 9252 where it operated until April 1978. Amtrak retired the car in October 1981 and sold it more than four years later.

After its retirement by Amtrak, the Silver Solarium transitioned to the private varnish world, most recently in the fleet of Rail Journeys West where it joined fellow CZ alumni Silver Lariat (a dome coach) and sleeper Silver Rapids in charter service on the back of scheduled Amtrak trains.

That often found the trio on the Amtrak version of the California Zephyr, which uses the route of the original CZ between Chicago and Salt Lake City.

For four months in 2002 the Silver Solarium brought up the rear of an American Orient Express train.

Rail Journeys West decided recently to sell its CZ class and the CVSR was a willing buyer.

The three cars along with baggage car Silver Peak made their final trips on Amtrak to Chicago where Nickel Plate Road 2-8-4 No. 765 picked them up to transport them to Cleveland and the CVSR.

Silver Solarium and Silver Lariat debuted on the CVSR last month in the consist of excursion trains pulled by NKP 765.

Silver Rapids made its CVSR debut on Oct. 6 in the consist of the Fall Flyer. Silver Peak has yet to operate in CVSR revenue service.

There was a lot of history to ponder as I boarded the Fall Flyer at Rockside Road station for trip that would be part nostalgia, part exploration of another world, and part consideration of the state of contemporary train travel.

Next: Inside the Silver Solarium

CVSR Fall Flyer to Feature Domes, Sleeping Car Rooms

August 28, 2018

When the Fall Flyer of the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad hits the rails this year it will be a facsimile of the famed California Zephyr.

The Fall Flyer will feature at least two of the CVSR’s three dome cars, all three of which once operated on the CZ. Passengers will also have the option of booking rooms in a sleeping car the railroad is in the process of acquiring.

The Fall Flyer will operate on Saturdays and Sundays in October, departing Rockside Road at 9:45 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. on Saturdays, and from Akron on Sundays at 11:30 a.m. and 3:30 p.m. Passengers will get a two-hour train ride.

Tickets will cost $25 per person for seating in a table car with seats sold individually from sections of four-top dining tables and chairs.

Tickets on the lower level of dome cars Silver Lariat and Silver Bronco are priced at $25 per passenger. The dome section of both cars is available for $30 per person.

In the Silver Rapids sleeping car, seating is available for $30 per person in a private suite that consists of two rooms together. The suite capacity is four passengers.

Seats in one of the eight roomettes of the Silver Rapids will cost $25 per person. Each roomette features a window and seating for two. Tickets must be purchased in sets of two.

Snacks, drinks and merchandise will be available for purchase in the concession car. All children age 3 or older must have a ticket. Children age 2 or younger do not require a ticket if they are to sit on a parent or guardian’s lap.

Tickets can be purchased online or at the station 30 minutes prior to departure time. For more information, contact CVSR customer service at 800-468-4070, extension 1.

CVSR Acquires 4 Ex-California Zephyr Cars

August 16, 2018

The CVSR dome car fleet will soon expand to three. Shown is Silver Bronco, the current dome car in the fleet.

The Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad announced this week that it has acquired four former California Zephyr cars for $1.5 million.

The acquisition includes two dome cars, including a dome-observation car.

All four rail cars are now currently located in Los Angeles and will be ferried to Chicago by Amtrak.

They include dome cars Silver Lariat and Silver Solarium, sleeping car Silver Rapids, and baggage car Silver Peak.

Both dome cars have full kitchens that the CVSR plans to use to expand special dinning excursions.

Also included on the dome cars is a supply of linens and china.

The cars were owned by a private collector and have been used for excursions through the country.

They are expected to arrive on the CVSR in September in time for the visit of Nickel Plate Road steam locomotive No. 765, which is slated to pull excursions over two weekends between Sept. 21 and 30.

CVSR purchased the cars with a $700,000 loan that it is financing through an overall capital campaign that began in 2016 and is seeking donations from individual, corporations and foundations.

“The acquisition of the Zephyr railcars was a once in a lifetime opportunity,” CVSR CEO Joe Mazur said in a statement. “We not only are preserving history, but giving hundreds of thousands of people the opportunity to have one more way to travel through and experience Cuyahoga Valley National Park.”

The CVSR already owns another former CZ dome car, the Silver Bronco.

The four cars will arrive on the CVSR in a ferry move of NKP 765 from Chicago.

Mazur said the cars are in good condition and that he will be riding in them during the Amtrak ferry move, which begins Sept. 10.

He noted that the cars were being offered for sale on the open market and the CVSR didn’t want to lose out to another buyer.

“We’re in the preservation business. We’re preserving a fleet of cars that were in service in the 1940s and 1950s,” Mazur said.

The Silver Lariat has a full bar and lounge area while the Silver Solarium has five suites and a full bar.

Each car can accommodate 24 diners in the dome sections. CVSR plans to invite chefs aboard for custom dinners.

The Silver Rapids car has six double bedrooms and eight roomettes. CVSR won’t be operating any overnight excursions, but plans to maintain the rooms as a museum piece.

Aside from being assigned to steam in the valley excursions, the new cars also will be used for Fall Flyer fall foliage events in October and Polar Express outings in November and December.

CVSR said that aside from buying the ex-CZ cars, it is also using money raised in its capital campaign to create an Edu-trainment Car that will provide interactive exhibits, programming, and activities for children ages birth to 12 years of age, and upgrade to an existing dining car to ensure ADA accessibility.

Silver Lariat was built in 1948 by the Budd Company for the Chicago, Burlington & Quincy.

It came with a dining and lounge area seating 42 passengers (36 at tables) and is equipped with a full bar with a freezer capable of storing 200 pounds of ice.

From this room, passengers can access the Vista Dome above, which includes an 24 passenger seats at tables.

A unique feature of this car is The Pony Express, a restored mural created by Mary Louise Lawser that was commissioned by the Burlington when the car was built.

The kitchen includes two ranges and two half-size convection ovens; registered monogrammed china service; original white damask California Zephyr table linens; and a full sound system with CD, iPod, and PA.

Silver Solarium also was built in 1948 by Budd for the Burlington. Ownership of the car was conveyed by Burlington Northern to Amtrak, which gave the car roster number 9251.

The car was retired by Amtrak in October 1981. More recently, the dome-sleeper-observation  car was operated by California Zephyr Railcar Charters.

The Silver Solarium has been fully renovated and features three double bedrooms, a drawing room, and a stateroom.

The observation lounge seats 11 in chairs upholstered in frieze fabric while the Vista Dome car seats 24 in booth seating at tables.

The car also features a full commercial kitchen with a range that includes a half-size convection oven, an original bar with a carved linoleum façade, and a sound system with CD and iPod.

Silver Peak was built in 1940 by Budd the Burlington and and assigned to the Denver‐Ft. Worth Texas Zephyr.

Originally built as a coach/dormitory/baggage car, the coach area was used as the Jim Crow section of the train.  It was later converted to a full baggage car.

The car comes with a workshop section that has an 8‐foot work bench with a drill press, bench grinder, band‐type cutoff saw, table saw, and a variety of power and hand tools; and a commercial refrigerator and chest freezer.

Silver Rapids was built by Budd in 1948 for the Pennsylvania Railroad, which intended to use it

as an interchange car to the California Zephyr as part of a short-lived transcontinental sleeping car service.

It was conveyed by Penn Central to Amtrak, which retired it in October 1983.

The car was built as a 10-6 sleeper, but now has eight roomettes and six double bedrooms.