California Zephyr Dome Buffet Lounge Observations
Featuring rear-end platforms with overhanging roofs featuring
an open view rearward, the Observation car became a fixture on
passenger trains in the late 20th century. With the advent of
the streamliner the design of the observation car changed from
an open air porch to a fully enclosed area with a rounded end.
Located at the end of the train they offered the passengers an
unobstructed view from the rear of the train to make the trip
more enjoyable and usually featured a lounge area with many also
having sleeping compartments.
Spacious and Luxurious!
That described the Vista-Domed-Buffet-Lounge-Observation car at
the rear of the train. This car boasted four separate and
distinct accommodations and provided lounging facilities for as
many as fifty passengers on three different levels.
Located at the rear of the train immediately behind the sleeping
cars the main attraction was the Vista-Dome for use by the
Pullman sleeping car passengers. Accessible from the lounge area
via carpeted and individually lighted steps the dome area was
decorated in sandalwood tones. The handrails for the stairway
were made of solid Lucite plastic with light from the top and
bottom of the stairway transmitted through the plastic to
produce a soft amber glow during the evening hours. From any of
the twenty-four comfortable dome seats passengers could ride in
almost unbelievably quiet air-conditioned comfort and enjoy to
the fullest a complete view of the magnificent scenery which the
California Zephyr route traversed in any direction through the
shatterproof glare-resistant glass.
observation lounge in shades of petal beige and rose-tan, with
settees and deeply cushioned occasional chairs in shades of
sandalwood and brown grouped to suit the convenience of the
passengers invited relaxation. Also, in this area was a writing
desk with mail drop as well as a magazine library.
lowered section beneath the dome was nestled a sophisticated
buffet area. Although food service was not available in the
buffet area twelve passengers could enjoy cool refreshing
beverages while socializing and enjoying their trip. Decorated
in rose and gray-green this area provided a comfortable
rendezvous to help passenger’s speed the time and miles
Located immediately forward of the buffet were
a drawing room, with its own enclosed shower/bath/toilet
facilities and three bedrooms each having its own toilet
facilities. Drawing Room D contained the only shower on the
whole train! Each room was tastefully decorated in shades of
rose-tan, taupe, petal beige, and ashes of roses. The car was
completely carpeted, and all side windows were equipped with
venetian blinds with those in the observation area having drapes
of gold and white.
A red Mars signal light provided
protection for the rear of the train which operated in a
horizontal figure eight pattern. This light could also be
rotated to become a solid white light and used as a headlight
when backing the train. The brakeman had full signaling, and
braking controls located at the rear of the car for these backup
movements. A hand operated windshield wiper was also mounted on
the rear window if needed during inclement weather.
to BUDD plan 9511 the cars were equipped with a 10-ton air
conditioning system, 25,000-watt 32-volt axle driven generator
and carried 500 gallons of potable water as well as 150 gallons
for the air conditioning system. 110-volt power was provided
with two motor generators. Cars from the original order built in
1948 and 1949 were built to plan 9511 and include CB&Q’s 375-377
named Silver Horizon, Penthouse and Solarium. D&RGW car 1145 was
the Silver Sky and WP’s two cars, 881 and 882 the Silver
Crescent and Planet. CB&Q added to the fleet in 1952 with car
378 the Silver Lookout built to plan 9533.
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