There are many dome cars, but in my opinion there is only one true Vista Dome. That dome car was part of the California Zephyr train, the first train to run with a Vista Dome. The California Zephyr was a passenger train that ran between Chicago and San Francisco. It was operated by three different railroads: the CB&Q (Chicago, Burlington & Quincy -- The Burlington), the Denver & Rio Grand Western and the Western Pacific.
The Vista Dome car was conceived by Cyrus Osborn, a General Motors vice president, in 1944 as he rode in the diesel locomotive of a freight train in
the Glenwood Canyon. Overtaken with the views that were not obscured by the walls of a passenger car, he contemplated a method to provide passengers
with the same breathtaking views he was experiencing and started sketching a way to provide train passengers a means of viewing the scenery. The
president of the Burlington Railroad saw the early sketches done by Mr Osborn and converted one of the railroad's passenger cars into a dome car.
This prototype car was named Silver Dome and was put into service in 1945. It was such a hit that before the end of that year the Burlington
placed orders for 40 dome cars to be built. The Budd Company was the first company to deliver dome cars to the Burlington in 1947. The Burlington coined
the name Vista Dome for it's line of dome cars. Other railroads were soon running with dome cars built by the Budd Company, Pullman-Standard, and
American Car & Foundry. For more information about the California Zephyr train, the fist to have Vista Domes in regular service, visit the California Zephyr Virtual Museum
The operators of the California Zephyr used the VistaDome as a powerful marketing tool issuing advertisements and brochures featuring the VistaDome.
I've found some of the ads and other marketing literature used by the Burlington and other railroads in the United States and Canada and present them here.
©2004,2008 John Simakauskas
Last update October 27, 2009