All Aboard the Silver Solarium

All Aboard the Silver Solarium

Silver Solarium was built in 1948 by the Budd Company for the Chicago, Burlington & Quincy Railroad. It was one of the 6 dome/sleeper/observation cars specifically built for the California Zephyr. Click here to download an original blueprint of the Vista Dome cars.

Conceived as ‘the last word’ in train travel, this magnificent car combines all the best features of luxury rail travel in one car. When passengers walk into the Silver Solarium they walk through the galley, then proceed down a hallway which has 5 bedrooms to its side. The spacious lounge area seats up to eleven guests comfortably and is perfect for watching the sun set. Guests can then head to the Silver Solarium dome where they can sit in booth-style seats and get a birds eye view of scenery.


Silver Solarium has a classic round end, or boat-tail observation lounge with comfortable seating for eleven guests (similar to CVSR’s St. Lucie). Twenty-four guests are accommodated for meals and sightseeing in Silver Solarium’s Vista-Dome. In addition to having three classic double bedrooms, Silver Solarium has a drawing room, which can accommodate up to three guests and a state room which can also accommodate guests.

Ownership of the car was transferred to Amtrak in 1970 after more than twenty years of service between Chicago and San Francisco. Amtrak retired the car in 1981. Silver Solarium was placed in storage for decades and fell into disrepair until Amtrak sold it to a private owner.

Mug and Vase on the Silver Solarium

In 2011 the Silver Solarium, along with Silver Lariat and Silver Rapids, participated in a 7 day concert series, The Railroad Revival Tour. The tour featured 3 bands, Mumford & Sons, Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeros and Old Crow Medicine Show. Starting in Oakland, California the three cars traveled across the country and ended in New Orleans. Watch the video here.

Today, Silver Solarium has been fully renovated and it continues to delight passengers with stunning views from its Vista Dome and observation lounge. 

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.

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Lynee Bixler