All Aboard the Silver Lariat

All Aboard the Silver Lariat

Silver Lariat was built in 1948 by the Budd Company for the Burlington Railroad as a dome coach for service on the California Zephyr. When the California Zephyr route was first introduced, the Silver Lariat’s priority was for woman and children meaning that unescorted ladies and mothers with young children occupied the forward end of the car where the mural is located. The mural was painted by Mary Louise Lawser in 1948. Titled Pony Express, it is one of the very few original California Zephyr murals extant. The mural is oil on canvas and in 1989 it was cleaned by a professional art conservator to preserve the piece. The car was placed directly behind the baggage car, making it the first Vista-dome in the train.

The Silver Lariat ran in service for the original California Zephyr for 22 years until the train was discontinued in 1970. Following the discontinuation, Amtrak purchased the Vista-dome in 1971 and used it for long-distance service until 1980, when the Silver Lariat was retired by the arrival of the Superliners.

Herb butter served in a Silver Lariat dish. 2018

The Silver Lariat was then purchased from Amtrak by private owners in 1985. The owners worked diligently to provide maintenance to the car and keep it in pristine condition. The car is equipped with a modern climate-control system, diesel generator, couplers and draft gear. The Silver Lariat is one of the most extensively rebuilt and well-maintained private cars in service today.

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A large dining/lounge area seats 42 passengers (36 at tables) and is equipped with a full bar with a freezer. From this room, passengers can access the Vista Dome above, which provides panoramic views and seating for an additional 24 passengers at tables. Silver Lariat also features restrooms; a full commercial kitchen with two ranges and two half-size convection ovens.

Today, the Silver Lariat oozes elegance in every corner. From the plates, to napkins, and even the vases on the tables—everything is branded Silver Lariat or California Zephyr. The stairs leading up to the dome feature a lighted handrail and a similar look to its sister car, the Silver Bronco. Silver Lariat will take you back in time, and truly make you feel as if you are traveling on a 1950’s passenger train.

In its lifetime of regular service, the Silver Lariat has traveled over 9 million miles. Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad is looking forward to having the Silver Lariat travel the length of Cuyahoga Valley National Park along with its two sister Vista-Dome cars.

CVSR’s group traveling aboard the Zephyr’s on their last journey east will be taking the Southwest Chief Route on train number 4. You can track the train here. Although it does not follow the same route as the California Zephyr, it still shows the beauty of the west from Los Angeles to Chicago. Follow our Facebook, Twitter and Instagram for updates on where the cars are, tours of the train cars, live videos, and Q&A opportunities. Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad is thrilled to be taking this step in our first-ever capital campaign! Learn more about our inaugural capital campaign here.

The first opportunity for guests to ride CVSR’s recently acquired Zephyr cars is at Steam in the Valley. More information and tickets here.

Katie Brewer

Katie Brewer