New gallery planned to showcase historic train
Anaheim, Calif., Aug. 9, 2011 – The Disneyland Resort donated the California Zephyr train previously located in Disney California Adventure park to Western Pacific Railroad Museum in Portola, Calif. Plans for a gallery dedicated to sharing the legacy of the California Zephyr are underway.
The train and related artifacts, which were part of the entrance to the theme park, arrived at their new home August 6 and will become part of the museum’s Zephyr Project collection.
“Walt Disney’s love of trains made this donation perfectly fitting,” said Disneyland Resort President George A. Kalogridis. “The expansion of Disney California Adventure park provided the opportunity for us to make this meaningful donation and we are thrilled the train will offer museum visitors and train enthusiasts an immersive experience, much like it did here.”
Visitors to the museum will learn about the history of the famous 1950s passenger train through the donated artifacts, while the recreated locomotive will offer the chance to experience what it was like for engineers to guide the stainless steel Zephyr trains through California’s Feather River Canyon.
The cab once operated as a real locomotive. It is an authentic rendition of the Western Pacific Railroad – one of the three railroads that operated the California Zephyr between Chicago and San Francisco from 1949 to 1970. It wears the same number as the last locomotive to lead a westbound California Zephyr into Oakland, Calif. on March 20, 1970. The California Zephyr is one of the most celebrated “name trains” of the 1950s and 60s.
About the California Zephyr
The California Zephyr was introduced in 1949. It wasn’t the fastest train between Chicago and California, but it offered the best of western scenery. The train departed Denver early in the morning, then climbed up the Front Range of the Rockies and traveled the canyons of Colorado rivers. In California, the train crossed the Sierra Nevada, traveling along the amazing canyons of the Feather River on the line of the Western Pacific Railroad. A 1950s advertising slogan for the train promised “Beauty by Day, All the Way!”
Today, Amtrak operates its own California Zephyr over part of the original route. As one of the most popular long distance trains, it still offers the best scenery. The modern version crosses the Sierra Nevada using Donner Pass (formerly owned by a rival railroad to the Western Pacific) along Interstate 80 instead of following the Feather River route.
Most of the passenger cars built for “The Silver Lady,” as the California Zephyr was sometimes known, survived the end of the operation of the train. A surprising number still exist today in museums, as well as in charter service.
About Disneyland Resort
Located on approximately 500 acres in Anaheim, Calif., the Disneyland Resort features two spectacular theme parks – Disneyland (the original Disney theme park) and Disney California Adventure park – plus the Downtown Disney District composed of unique dining, entertainment and shopping experiences. The Resort’s three hotels are the 948-room Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa, the 969-room Disneyland Hotel and the 481-room Disney’s Paradise Pier Hotel. With 21,000 Cast Members, the Disneyland Resort is Orange County’s largest employer and generates $4.7 billion for the Southern California economy. The Resort has welcomed more than 600 million guests since opening on July 17, 1955. For detailed information about the Disneyland Resort, please visitwww.disneyland.com.
About the Western Pacific Railroad Museum
The Western Pacific Railroad Museum is located in Portola, California, north of Truckee and right off scenic California Highway 70. It is a hands-on museum dedicated to preserving the history of the Western Pacific and features over 130 items of historic railroad rolling stock as well as a significant photographic and paperwork archives. A popular feature is the Run-A-Locomotive program, which offers guests the opportunity to learn about train operations and then take the throttle of a real locomotive as they run on the Museum’s demonstration railway. For more information visit www.WPLives.org or call 530.832.4131. The museum is open 7 days a week, 10 AM – 5 PM, from the first Saturday in May through the first Sunday in October. Open weather permitting on weekends in April and October. Please call ahead for off-season times.
The museum owns the largest collection of California Zephyr equipment and archival material in the country. The Zephyr Project collection includes a complete and operational locomotive and several passenger cars, including a dome coach, dome buffet dormitory and the last intact dining car from the train.
A rare opportunity to travel the original route of the California Zephyr will occur August 19th through 21st as a special 12 car-passenger train heads from Oakland to Portola for the annual Railroad Days festival. For more information, visit www.portolarailroaddays.com.
Disneyland Resort Public Relations