The California Zephyr
In July 1969, when I was twelve years old, our family took the California Zephyr from Green River, Utah, to Denver, Colorado. It was an amazing
experience, and I still remember almost every minute of it. I was transfixed by the view from the Vista Domes as the train crossed western Colorado,
climbed Glenwood and Ruby Canyons, passed through the Moffat Tunnel and descended into Denver.
In 1971 we took the train again from Provo to Denver. By then the original California Zephyr no longer ran, but the Denver & Rio Grande Western ran a
shorter version of the train to avoid joining Amtrak. I also rode many Amtrak trains with Vista Domes before they were converted to Superliners. The
current Amtrak trains have a Viewliner lounge car, but it will never compare to the experience of riding literally on top of the train, with a 360 degree view
of the train and the scenery.
After my second trip, I remember wishing that there was a Vista Dome simulator, so I could play back any portion of the trip over and over again. And
many decades and technologies later we are almost there, with computers, simulator software and most important, rail fans to make the route, scenery and
rolling stock possible.
The California Zephyr ran from 1949 to 1970 and the D&RGW Zephyr ran until Amtrak took over in 1983. The types and order of cars changed very little
over the years. I've tried to make the train look as it would have in 1969. There are many web pages on the Zephyr, including:
The California Zephyr Museum Online
The California Zephyr Virtual Museum
Wikipedia - California Zephyr
I used a Lenovo K320 desktop, with an Intel i5 processor and an NVIDIA Geforce 310 video card. I ran the Trainz 2010 train simulator software in
compatibility mode so that it will accept older routes and rolling stock.
The most amazing part of the project is the detailed route, by an Italian group called TrainzItalia. They somehow found out about the Moffat Road and
spent years recreating the Denver to Grandby section on Trainz. I don't know how they did it, but it is a true work of art. They even recreated the Rollins
Pass section over the summit that was used until the Moffat Tunnel was completed.
The California Zephyr cars also came from TrainzItalia, and the locomotives were downloaded from Trainz Pro Routes.
I would like to thank TrainzItalia for making my Vista Dome fantasy almost complete.
While I once drove a real F7 for a few miles, I have no railroad experience so please excuse any engine or operating mistakes, especially speed limits.
Enjoy the ride!