The car which could justifiably be called the mainstay of the entire train was the Vista-Dome Coach. With forty-six reserved seats on the main level and another twenty-four (non-reserved) seats in the dome level, these cars provided seating for the majority of Zephyr passengers. Normally three Vista-Dome Coaches were provided in each train and located directly behind the baggage car. Due to the dome being "off center", as viewed the car was placed "dome forward". Each car was named after a characteristic of the West.
Three separate "varieties" of the Vista-Dome coach initially existed. The first of these in the consist was numbered CZ-22 and was referred to as the "women and children's" car. This was due to the forward section of the main floor being reserved for women and children. To accommodate this "segregation" a swinging door was located in the hallway under the dome, behind the entrance to the ladies restroom. This feature was short-lived and the door was removed. Railroad car drawing notations indicate a removal date of approximately July or August of 1950. Upon removal of the door, these cars were identical in configuration to the CZ-20 cars described below.
The next variation was placed behind the above mentioned car. Numbered CZ-21, it was commonly referred to as the "Conductors Coach". This was due to having a small room at the right rear of the train for use by the conductor as his office. This office contained a small locker, writing desk and a handset tied into the public address system. The office resulted in the placement of a small window at the right rear side of the train. This extra window changed the side profile of the car thereby making this unique car recognizable from outside views.
The final "variation", numbered CZ-20, was actually the standard car.
It contained no segregated sections nor conductors office. The space utilized
in the previous car as the conductors office was occupied by baggage racks,
this storage area configuration was repeated in the "women and children's"
A view from the Dome! The unparalleled view offered by a Vista-Dome can well be imagined by viewing this photo. The model ascending the stairs appears to be Barbara Billingsley of "Leave it to Beaver" fame.
As described in an issue of Vista-Dome Views, each coach featured the
- Individually assigned (main level) deep cushioned reclining seats with folding foot and leg rests
- Individual reading lights for each seat (mounted under the overhead luggage racks)
- Spacious restrooms with ample toilet and lavatory facilities (the ladies facilities also included an
adjustable table for changing baby's dirty diapers and a bottle warmer).
- Circulating iced water
- Wall-to-wall carpeting, venetian blinds, curtains and fluorescent lighting
- Murals depicting scenic and historic highlights enroute (these murals were by artist, Mary Lawser)
- Radio and wire recorder for music, a public address system for announcements (although one
selector chose the broadcast selection for the entire car, volume controls were seperate for the
dome and main floor)
- Two separate air conditioning systems, one for the main level and a second for the dome area
- Hostess service by a uniformed Zephyrette
|From a Decemeber, 1949 timetable, a view of the coach reclining seats.|
Ceiling lighting in the coaches had a unique arrangement. Each ceiling unit had a magnifying lens formed in the bottom of the fixture. This directed lighting to the isle areas only. The design also allowed a soft illumination for the seating area, but without causing glare.
Each of the three cars had it's own interior color scheme and mural.
The various color schemes included a mixture of nut-pine, rust, shades
of mocha-gray, henna and brown; a second employing soft turquoise, brown,
beige and green; with a third utilizing Indian red, orchid-gray, woodtone
and burgundy. Carpeting, drapery, blinds and upholstery reflected the basic
In this view, looking towards the rear, one of the wall murals
by Mary Lawser may be seen. Also take note of the headrest cover on the
left. It is a different style than those commonly seen in later years.
Plans and Diagrams
Roster of all Dome Coaches
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