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The Pioneer Zephyr is a diesel-powered railroad train formed of railroad cars permanently articulated together with Jacobs bogies, built by the Budd Company in 1934 for the Chicago, Burlington and Quincy Railroad (CB&Q), commonly known as the Burlington. The train featured extensive use of stainless steel, was originally named the Zephyr, and was meant as a promotional tool to advertise passenger rail service in the United States. The construction included innovations such as shotwelding (a specialized type of spot welding) to join the stainless steel, and articulation to reduce its weight.
On May 26, 1934, it set a speed record for travel between Denver, Colorado, and Chicago, Illinois, when it made a 1,015-mile (1,633 km) non-stop "Dawn-to-Dusk" dash in 13 hours 5 minutes at an average speed of 77 mph (124 km/h). For one section of the run it reached a speed of 112.5 mph (181 km/h), just short of the then US land speed record of 115 mph (185 km/h). The historic dash inspired a 1934 film and the train's nickname, "The Silver Streak".
The train entered regular revenue service on November 11, 1934, between Kansas City, Missouri, Omaha, Nebraska, and Lincoln, Nebraska. It operated this and other routes until its retirement in 1960, when it was donated to Chicago's Museum of Science and Industry, where it remains on public display. The train is generally regarded as the first successful streamliner on American railroads.
Concept and construction
In the early 1930s, the US was in the depths of the Great Depression. Without the money to purchase new goods, freight trains were not hauling as much as they had in the previous decade. People who could not buy goods also could not afford to travel to the extent that they had before, so passenger revenues were also down. Automobile travel had increasingly cut into rail ridership since the mid-1920s, making faster, more efficient service imperative for railroads to compete. Railroads needed a way to re-energize the traveling public and offer a bit of hope for the days to come.
One of the railroad presidents who faced this challenge was Ralph Budd, formerly of the Great Northern Railway and now president of the Chicago, Burlington and Quincy Railroad (Burlington), who sought to develop a more efficient high speed train to replace conventional steam-powered heavyweight equipment to lower operating costs, attract more customers, and restore profitability to passenger service. The project hinged on two major elements: developing lighter railcars and developing an internal combustion driven power system adequate for high speed service.
In 1932 Ralph Budd met Edward G. Budd (no relation), an automotive steel pioneer who was founder and president of the Budd Company. Edward Budd was demonstrating his new Budd-Michelin rail motorcar built of stainless steel. Pneumatic-wheeled railcars never found popularity for actual service in the US — they tended to derail — but they demonstrated the successful construction of lightweight stainless steel unibody railcars.
Stainless steel provided many benefits over traditional wood and hardened steel for railroad carbodies; it was a lighter and stronger material, and its natural silver appearance and resistance to corrosion meant that it would not have to be painted to protect it from the weather. Since the carbody was much lighter than similar cars, it would be able to carry a higher revenue load for the same cost.
In developing the Budd-Michelin railcar, the Budd Company used the formed steel technology in which they were industry pioneers and solved the most difficult problem in using stainless steel for railcar construction: developing a welding technique that would not compromise the strength and corrosion resistance of the stainless steel. On August 20, 1932, Earl J. Ragsdale, an engineer at the Budd Company, filed a patent application for a "Method and product of electric welding"; on January 16, 1934, the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) granted US patent 1,944,106 to the Budd Company. Shotwelding, as Ragsdale termed his method, involved automatic control of the timing of individual spot welds. In spot welding, the two pieces of metal that are to be joined are pressed together with an electrode on each side of the joint. A very high electric current is passed through the joint and fuses the two pieces of metal together. If a spot weld is heated too long, heat will spread from the weld at a middling temperature that weakens the stainless steel and compromises its corrosion-resistant properties unacceptably; Ragsdale's precisely-timed welds solved the problem. With their patented welding process at the core of stainless steel railcar construction, the cars produced by Budd were a truly unique product.
The other major problem Ralph Budd faced in developing a practical high speed lightweight train was to find a powerplant adequate to drive a trainset at a speed competitive with the faster steam trains. The existing powerplants for motorized railcars were completely inadequate. Contemporary four-stroke marine and stationary diesel engines had low power-to-weight ratios and were only efficient under a narrow range of operating conditions, rendering them unsuitable for mobile use. Spark-ignited petroleum distillate engines also suffered from low power-to-weight ratios along with being maintenance-intensive and smokey, and gasoline engines showed limited potential for higher power hauling applications. The solution to Budd's problem presented itself in the new two-stroke diesel engines developed by the partnership of the Winton Engine Company and General Motors, which represented a factor-of-four improvement in power-to-weight ratio over the previous generation of diesel engines. Their efficient operating range was also improved, owing largely to improvements in fuel injection developed by GM and Winton. A diesel-electric system driven by the new engine was used to power General Motors' automotive assembly exhibit at the 1933 Century of Progress Chicago World's Fair. Budd saw the compact, efficient system in action, saw a major piece of his lightweight train puzzle fall into place, then approached GM about developing it into a system for rail propulsion. The result was a diesel-electric drive system developed by GM's subsidiary Electro-Motive Corporation, powered by an eight-cylinder, 600 hp Winton 201A diesel engine, installed in a new three car stainless steel streamliner within a year. In 1933 a Century of Progress exhibit inspired the Zephyr streamliner; the following year the new Zephyr streamliner inspired the Century of Progress fair and the rest of the country.
Another factor in making the Zephyr lighter than conventional trains was that the individual carbodies in the train share their trucks with adjacent cars. In this design by Budd engineer Walter B. Dean, the train was three articulated compartments. On conventional passenger cars, each carbody rode upon a pair of trucks (pivot-mounted wheel-axle assembly), with one truck at each end. The articulation not only reduced the number of trucks under the train, but it also dispensed with the need for couplers between each of the carbodies, further reducing the train's weight. It did, however, mean that train lengths could not be easily changed by switching out cars.
The exterior design of the train was left to aeronautical engineer Albert Gardner Dean (Walter Dean's younger brother) who designed the sloping nose shape, with architects Paul Philippe Cret and John Harbeson, devising a way to strengthen and beautify the sides with the train's horizontal fluting. On April 15, 1936, Colonel Ragsdale, Walter Dean and Albert Dean, filed patent applications for a "Rail Car Front End Construction". On September 23, 1941 the USPTO granted US patents 2,256,493 and 2,256,494 to the Budd Company. The streamlining extended to the undercarriage as well to reduce drag.
Naming the train was a task that was very seriously taken by Budd. He wanted a name that started with the letter Z because this train was intended to be the "last word" in passenger service; Budd and his coworkers looked up the last words in their dictionaries, but neither zymurgy nor zyzzle conveyed the meanings that Budd was looking for. The name of the new train came from The Canterbury Tales, which Budd had been reading. The story begins with pilgrims setting out on a journey, inspired by the budding springtime and by Zephyrus, the gentle and nurturing west wind. Budd thought that would be an excellent name for a sleek new traveling machine—Zephyr.
The first Zephyr (9900) was completed by the Budd Company on April 9, 1934, powered by an eight-cylinder, 600-horsepower (447 kW), 8-201-A model Winton engine. The diesel-electric drive system using generators, control, and traction-drive equipment from General Electric became the technological basis for later diesel locomotives that would replace steam.
The train's engineer sat in a small compartment in the nose of the train, directly in front of the prime mover. Behind the engine in the first carbody was a 30 ft (9.1 m) long railway post office section. The second carbody consisted of a small baggage section and a short buffet and 20-passenger coach section. The third and final carbody in the train, as originally built, was configured as half coach (40-passenger seats) and half observation car (12 passenger seats). As built, the train had 72 seats and could carry 50,000 pounds (22.7 tonnes) of baggage and express freight. This train's official christening occurred on April 18, 1934, at the Pennsylvania Railroad's Broad Street Station in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
Following the Zephyr Budd built an identical trainset, the Flying Yankee, for the Boston and Maine railroad, and went on to build a series of larger and more powerful Zephyr trainsets for Burlington.
Promotion: "Dawn-to-Dusk" dash
To catch the public's attention, this train was not simply rolled out of the factory; it made a dash from one end of the CB&Q, in Denver, to the other, in Chicago on May 26, 1934. The railroad spared no expense in planning the operations. All other trains along the Zephyr's route were diverted to sidings and the turnouts were spiked into the proper alignment for the Zephyr's run. Track and maintenance of way workers checked every spike and bolt along the train's route to ensure that there would not be any problems, and temporary speed signs were installed along the route to warn the Zephyr's crew of curves that would be dangerous at high speeds. On the day of the dash, every road grade crossing was manned by a flagman to stop automobile traffic ahead of the train and to ensure that the crossing was clear. Stations along the route were protected by local police officers and members of the American Legion and the Boy Scouts of America.
The train left Denver at 07:04 Central Daylight Time and arrived in Chicago at 20:09, 13 hours 5 minutes later, at an average speed of 77 mph (124 km/h). For one section of the run, the train reached a speed of 112.5 mph (181 km/h), close to the world land speed record of 130.6 mph (210.2 km/h) of 1903, which had been achieved in repeated runs on dedicated test track. The non-stop 1,015 mile (1,633 km) trip exceeded the railroad's expectations in being 1 hour 55 minutes faster than was scheduled. Reporters along the route told of the "silver streak" that ran by faster than any other train that normally rode American rails at the time. The Burlington's contemporary passenger trains plied the same distance in around 25 hours.
Riding the train were Ralph Budd, Edward G. Budd, Harold L. Hamilton, president of the Electro-Motive Corporation, a number of reporters, some Burlington employees, members of the public, and Zeph, a burro that was contributed by a Colorado newspaper, the Rocky Mountain News, as a mascot for the train. The newspaper had described Zeph to the railroad as a "Rocky Mountain canary" so the train's crew had originally planned only enough space for a birdcage; when they found out it was not a bird, the railroad hastily built a pen in the baggage section and bought some hay for it. When asked about the burro, Ralph Budd replied "why not? One more jackass on this trip won't make a difference."
After the train arrived in Chicago, it traveled a little farther to the 1934 Century of Progress fair (noted in some press articles about the dash as the "Chicago World's Fair") where it was put on public display on opening day. After its display on the Wings of a Century stage, the train was taken on a 31-state, 222-city publicity tour. More than 2 million people saw the train before it entered revenue service.
Part of the tour included a test run between Chicago and Minneapolis–St. Paul a full five hours faster than the Burlington's fastest steam-powered train. Due to the Zephyr's success on this test run, the Burlington immediately ordered two more Zephyr trainsets that were dubbed, the "Twin Zephyrs", starting the spread of the Zephyr brand.
The early Zephyr series trains
Following the Pioneer Zephyr 9900, two identical trainsets, 9901 and 9902, were built and put into service as the Twin Cities Zephyr between Chicago and Minneapolis - St. Paul in April 1935. The four car set 9903 entered service as the Mark Twain Zephyr between St. Louis and Burlington, Iowa in October 1935. The six car sets 9904 and 9905 began service as the Denver Zephyr in May 1936, then replaced 9901 and 9902 on the Twin Cities run in December 1936. At that time, the 9901 was reassigned to a new service, the Sam Houston Zephyr, running between Ft. Worth and Houston via Dallas on trackage jointly owned by the Chicago, Rock Island and Pacific. This was the first streamlined train in Texas, and was joined about a year later by the Texas Rocket on alternate timing. The 9902 inaugurated the Ozark State Zephyr, a joint operation with the Alton Railroad between St. Louis and Kansas City, where it was joined by the 9904 on alternate timing about a year later. Two new ten car trains, 9906 and 9907, replaced 9904 and 9905 as the Denver Zephyr in November 1936, freeing them up for the Twin Zephyr service. The last of the classic Zephyrs, 9908, entered service as the General Pershing Zephyr between Kansas City and St. Louis in 1939, replacing the less commodious 9902 set. The 9904 set continued to provide alternate timing on this route across the Show Me State, but had its original name of Mark Twain Zephyr restored (despite no longer operating through Samuel Clemens' hometown of Hannibal).
While 9900-9903 were power cars, only one more, the unique 9908, was built. 9904-9907 were locomotives with the twin 900 hp 12-cylinder engine layout that the early E-units would use. 9906 and 9907, built for the ten car Denver Zephyr sets in 1936, included booster units. 9908 used the new 1000 hp EMD 567 motor in a single motor configuration. After 9908, all Burlington passenger engines were standard production locomotives, except for the cosmetic stainless steel bodywork of the E5s.
9900, and sisters, 9901-9903, were successful as streamliners, but had the drawbacks of articulated trainsets and early two-stroke diesel motors. However, despite their shortcomings, 9900 and 9902-9908 were all in service until at least 1954. 9900 remained in service until 1960. The 9908 power car remained in service until 1966. As of 2016, 9908 is undergoing restoration to operational condition.
Winton diesel engines were used in early EMC designs, and 9900 had an eight-cylinder 201A model developing 600 hp at 750 rpm. Two-stroke diesel motors, while a breakthrough in locomotive power, were an immature technology. Some of their early reliability problems were mitigated with changes to individual parts such as pistons; other solutions had to wait for a differently designed motor. For example, the first generation of pistons in the Winton motor only had about 50,000 miles of useful life, later extended to about 100,000 miles. EMC's next generation diesel motor had pistons with a useful life of over 500,000 miles. The problems were most acute under the operating conditions of locomotive, rather than stationary or marine, use. Even with the problems of the 201A, their maintenance regime was significantly lower than for steam locomotives.
9900 and 9901-9903 were articulated trainsets, with common trucks (Jacobs bogies) between each car. This caused operating problems, as train lengths could not be changed for demand and any single failure affected the entire train. All following power units were separate from their train, although four more articulated and semi-articulated carsets were built.
Regular revenue service
The Zephyr's power (leading) car was numbered 9900, the baggage-coach combine car 505, and the coach-observation 570. The train was placed in regular service between Kansas City, Missouri, Omaha and Lincoln, Nebraska, on November 11, 1934, replacing a pair of steam locomotives and six heavyweight passenger cars, weighing up to eight times as much as the Zephyr. By June 1935, it proved popular enough to add a fourth car, providing additional coach seating. The fourth car was originally a 40-seat coach number 525, but the following June it was switched to Twin Cities service, then back to the Pioneer Zephyr in December. Car 525 remained on the train until June 1938. Just over five years after it was introduced, the Pioneer Zephyr crossed the one million mile mark in regular service on December 29, 1939, near Council Bluffs, Iowa.
Ralph Budd and the Burlington capitalized on the Zephyr's success. However, most passenger trains needed larger capacity. Thus, as the Burlington made a transition to larger diesel-electric locomotives pulling individual passenger cars, new streamlined cars of standard size were ordered, which quickly became the standard of many railroads. However, Burlington was determined to be the leader, and ordered its large "E" series passenger diesels to also be equipped with matching stainless-steel fluting. Many of the Burlington's long distance named passenger trains began operating under the Zephyr banner, including the Nebraska Zephyr, Twin Cities Zephyr, and perhaps the most famous of the namesake, the California Zephyr.
On the second anniversary of the train's famous dash, the original Zephyr was rechristened the Pioneer Zephyr to distinguish it as the first of the Burlington's growing Zephyr fleet. In 1938, car 525 was replaced by car number 500, a 40-seat buffet/lounge car, to provide light meals. Car number 505, the baggage-coach combine, was rebuilt at this time into a full baggage car, but it kept its original windows.
In regular service, the Pioneer Zephyr had its share of accidents. In 1939 it was involved in a head-on collision with a freight train that completely destroyed the cab. The train was rebuilt and re-entered revenue service soon afterward, but the accident strengthened the desire of locomotive designers to move the cab back from the front of the locomotive to above a large nose, as on EMD F-unit and EMD E-unit locomotives.
Since the Pioneer Zephyr was built of stainless steel, which is not as recyclable as aluminum, the train was spared from the metal recycling drives of World War II. By contrast, Union Pacific's M-10000, built of aluminum, was scrapped in 1942 for the war effort, among other reasons.
In 1948 and 1949, the Pioneer Zephyr was temporarily removed from service to participate in the Chicago Railroad Fair's "Wheels A-Rolling" pageant. The fair's purpose was to celebrate 100 years of railroad history west of Chicago, and the Pioneer Zephyr's role in the pageant was to highlight the latest strides in railroad technology. It resumed regular passenger operations when the fair ended on October 2, 1949. By 1955 the Pioneer Zephyr's route had been updated to run between Galesburg, Illinois, and Saint Joseph, Missouri; the trainset had been in continual service since 1934, operating over nearly 3 million miles (4.8 million kilometres). The Pioneer Zephyr's last revenue run was a trip from Lincoln, Nebraska, to Kansas City, Missouri, (along the train's regular revenue route) that then continued to Chicago on March 20, 1960. When Amtrak took over passenger rail services in 1971, the legendary Zephyr name was preserved, and the California Zephyr is an Amtrak route in the 21st century.
Use in film
Press publicity had apparently first coined the term "Silver Streak". The Pioneer Zephyr's famous Denver-Chicago dash served as the inspiration for the 1934 film The Silver Streak starring Charles Starrett. In that story, the crew was racing to the Boulder Dam construction site with an iron lung, with only moments to spare. The original Zephyr trainset was used for the exterior shots in the film, while interior scenes were filmed on a soundstage in Hollywood. For the film, the "Burlington Route" nameplate on the train's nose was replaced with one that read "Silver Streak".
Influence on trains
The sensation caused by the new Zephyr trainsets sparked intense competition centered on speed and styling in the region served by the CB&Q. In May 1935 the Milwaukee Road introduced the Class A steam-powered high speed streamliner locomotive on its Chicago-Twin Cities Hiawatha run, in direct competition with the CB&Q Twin Cities Zephyr. The styling of the Class A was directly evocative of the Zephyr, with a "shovel-nose" front end featuring a high-mounted headlamp ensconced in grillework. Another early adopter of streamline styling was the New York Central railway with its Commodore Vanderbilt steam locomotive, showing styling elements borrowed from the Zephyr, unveiled in December 1934. A Zephyr-type trainset, the Flying Yankee, started service between Boston and Portland, Maine in April 1935, signaling new competition for steam-powered passenger service on the east coast. The Gulf, Mobile, and Northern Rebel featured styling similar to that of the Zephyr, entering service on July 10, 1935 between New Orleans and Jackson, Tennessee. The race was on nationally to develop faster and more stylish locomotives for passenger service, boosting the streamliner trend.
Style and structural elements of the Zephyr were incorporated into the EMC "E" series diesel locomotives introduced in 1937, featuring "shovel-nose" front ends beneath their elevated cabs. The E5 units produced for CB&Q paid homage to the original Zephyr trainsets with a stainless steel body, fluted lower bodywork, horizontal black stripes across the front, and faux grillework flanking the upper headlamp. The lightweight construction introduced to mainline service by the Zephyr trainsets became the standard for new railcars used with the new EMC-powered diesel streamliners such as the AT&SF Super Chief.
With Zephyr-mania sweeping the country, tributes turned up in the names of everything from sports teams to commercial products. In 1934, Father Becker, principal of the newly built St. Mary High School in Menasha, Wisconsin, was so inspired by the dawn-to-dusk run that he chose "Zephyrs" as the mascot for the new school. In Galesburg, Illinois, which is 162 rail miles from Chicago, the local high school named all its athletic teams the "Galesburg Silver Streaks" in honor of the train. In 1935, the H. N. White Company changed the name of its top-line saxophones to "King Zephyr." Ford Motor Company introduced the "Lincoln-Zephyr" with the 1936 model year. If advertisers could find a way to cash in on Zephyr-mania, they did.
On May 26, 1960, the 26th anniversary of the "Dawn-to-Dusk" dash, the original Pioneer Zephyr train (car numbers 9900, 505 and 570) was donated to Chicago's Museum of Science and Industry (MSI). Car number 500, which operated with the train from 1938, went along with Mark Twain Zephyr trainset 9903 to a party in Mount Pleasant, Iowa, for static display in a town park, but plans for the train's display did not work out; car 500 and the Mark Twain Zephyr are currently stored in Granite City, Illinois and plans are currently underway to display it in Fairfield, Iowa.
MSI displayed the Pioneer Zephyr outdoors, with no protection from the weather, until 1994. At that time, the steam locomotive that shared the display space with the Zephyr, Santa Fe #2903, was donated to the Illinois Railway Museum (IRM) at Union, west of Chicago, while MSI prepared a new display location for the Zephyr.
MSI dug a pit in front of the building and built a new display area for the Zephyr, where it could be displayed year-round. In 1998, after the train received a cosmetic restoration by Northern Rail Car in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, the pit was finally ready to receive the train. Rohn Metal Fabricating, Inc., known for its expertise in stainless steel fabrication, played a part in the interior restoration of the Zephyr. The Pioneer Zephyr train is still on display at MSI just outside the main entrance from the museum's underground parking area, where it is one of the more popular exhibits. Thomas Rohn, owner of Rohn Metal Fabricating, Inc., was "happy to lend his company's expertise" in the train's restoration.
In addition to the Pioneer Zephyr, two other legacies remain. An operable Nebraska Zephyr train was donated to IRM. There, powered by one of the large "E" series passenger diesels (an EMC E5) with the distinctive and durable stainless-steel fluting, it is still operated on short runs on the museum's substantial trackage, providing train enthusiasts and tourists with an experience reminiscent of the heyday of the Burlington's Zephyr service. The Silver Charger, power car of the General Pershing Zephyr, is on display at the Museum of Transportation in St. Louis, and the same train's "diner-parlour and observation car" is now the Silver Star Cafe in Port Hedland, Australia.
Also utilizing the name, the Minnesota Zephyr was a dinner train located in the historic city of Stillwater, Minnesota, although it was not directly associated with the historic Burlington Zephyr fleet.
Due to the Zephyr's place in American railroad history, many model railroaders have built their own versions of the Pioneer Zephyr in miniature. Several model manufacturers are now producing commercial ready-to-run models or kits of the train for modelers to build. This list is ordered by the manufacturer's release date:
- American Flyer introduced one of the earliest versions of the Zephyr in 1934. Originally sold as a three-car set, the body shells were produced in sand-cast aluminum and hand-polished to represent the stainless steel-skinned prototype. Additional cars became available and the locomotive or "power unit" underwent some refinements during production; and a less expensive stamped lithographed steel version was also produced. The Zephyr set appeared in the 1934-1938 American Flyer catalogs. With the purchase of the American Flyer line in 1937 by the A. C. Gilbert Company, a new line of O scale (1:48) trains moved into production phasing out the Zephyrs and previous O-scale products collectively known as "Chicago Flyer".
- Challenger Imports imported limited production ready-to-run brass models in HO scale (1:87) of the four-car Pioneer Zephyr, Mark Twain Zephyr and the Boston and Maine Railroad's Maine Cheshire and Maine Minuteman in 1993.
- Fine N-Scale Products released a kit in 1996 in N scale (1:160) that includes an option for car number 500.
- Con-Cor made limited-run models available in both HO scale and N scale that were released in 2005, and then again in 2012.
- River Raisin Models released a ready-to-run model in S scale (1:64) of both the Pioneer Zephyr (in three- and four-car configurations) and the similar Flying Yankee, in 2005.
- MTH Electric Trains released a limited production ready-to-run model of the three-car Pioneer Zephyr in O scale in 2005.
- In 2007, Fisher-Price released an engine called "Knight" for their GeoTrax Rail & Road System that is clearly inspired by the Zephyr.
- Flying Yankee—A very similar streamlined trainset that operated on the Boston and Maine Railroad; it is undergoing restoration to operating condition as of 2006.
- Nebraska Zephyr—Another of Burlington's Zephyr fleet, one example of which is preserved at the Illinois Railway Museum.
- "Fliegender Hamburger" ("Flying Hamburger")—a German diesel trainset that entered service in 1933, regularly achieving speeds of up to 100 mph (160 km/h).
- ETR 200—Italian high-speed electric train.
- Asia Express-high-speed train started operation in 1933 in Manchukuo.
- High-speed train
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- Gordon-Gilmore, Randy (2002). "Pioneer Zephyr". ProtoTrains. Retrieved February 24, 2005.
- Johnston and Welsh, p 15.
- Zimmerman, p. 16.
- Zimmerman, p. 26.
- "American Experience / Streamliners / People & Events / Ralph Budd". PBS Online / WGBH. 2000. Archived from the original on March 9, 2005. Retrieved February 22, 2005.
- "The Burlington Zephyr stainless steel train". Advanced Materials & Processes, June 2009. American Society for Materials.
- US patent 1944106, Earl J. W. Ragsdale, "Method and product of electric welding", issued 1934-01-15, assigned to Edward G. Budd Manufacturing Company
- Zimmerman, p. 19.
- "Pioneer without Profit" (profile of Budd), Fortune magazine, February 1937, page 130.
- "Adding Wings to the Iron Horse".
- Johnston and Welsh, p. 20.
- Zimmerman, p. 25.
- Johnston and Welsh, p. 16.
- Zimmerman, p. 24.
- US patent 2256493, Earl J. W. Ragsdale & Albert G. and Walter P. Dean, "Rail car front end construction", issued 1941-09-23, assigned to Budd Manufacturing Company
- US patent 2256494, Earl J. W. Ragsdale & Albert G. Dean, "Rail car front end construction", issued 1941-09-23, assigned to Budd Manufacturing Company
- Kisor, p. 16
- Zimmerman, p. 29.
- Zimmerman, p. 32.
- Zimmerman, p. 37.
- "Pioneer Zephyr, a legendary history - The Dawn To Dusk Club". Chicago Museum of Science and Industry. 2002. Archived from the original on February 9, 2005. Retrieved March 1, 2005.
- Zimmerman, p. 40.
- Pinkpank, Jerry A (1973). The Second Diesel Spotter’s Guide. Kalmbach Books. pp. 106, 112–113, 117, 121–122,. LCCN 66-22894.
- Kettering, E.W. (1951). "History and Development of the 567 Series General Motors Locomotive Engine" (PDF).
- Zimmerman, p. 43.
- Chicago Railroad Fair Official Guide Book (1949).
- Lotz, David (Spring 2002). "History of the Mark Twain Zephyr". Rail Merchants International. Retrieved February 27, 2005.
- "The Pioneer Zephyr comes home". Trackside. Retrieved February 25, 2005.
- "History of the IRM: Collections". Illinois Railway Museum. November 25, 2005. Archived from the original on April 29, 1998. Retrieved May 24, 2007.
- "History of the IRM: Restoration". Illinois Railway Museum. November 25, 2005. Archived from the original on April 29, 1998. Retrieved May 24, 2007.
- Dorney Park & Wildwater Kingdom (2006). "Rides: Zephyr". Cedar Fair Entertainment Company. Archived from the original on June 18, 2006. Retrieved June 15, 2006.
- American Flyer Trains consumer catalogs 1934 - 1938
- "Shovelnoses". BPL Brassworks. Archived from the original on September 30, 2007. Retrieved July 13, 2007.
- "Burlington Zephyr". Fine N-Scale Products. 2002. Retrieved July 13, 2007.
- ""HO" and "N" Scale Con-Cor 1934 Pioneer Zephyr". Con-Cor. 2007. Archived from the original on June 21, 2007. Retrieved July 13, 2007.
- "Budd "Shovelnose" Trainsets Delivered!". River Raisin Models. 2007. Archived from the original on May 15, 2007. Retrieved July 13, 2007.
- "Pioneer Zephyr Diesel Passenger Set w/Proto-Soundr 2.0". MTH Electric Trains. Retrieved July 13, 2007.
- "Knight & Sir John". Fisher-Price Inc. 2008. Archived from the original on June 10, 2011. Retrieved March 16, 2008.
- American Society of Mechanical Engineers (November 18, 1980), The Pioneer Zephyr (PDF). Retrieved February 24, 2005.
- Johnston, Bob; Joe Welsh; Mike Schafer (2001). The Art of the Streamliner. New York: Metro Books. ISBN 1-58663-146-2.
- Kisor, Henry (1994). Zephyr: Tracking a Dream Across America. Holbrook, Massachusetts: Adams Publishing. ISBN 1-55850-477-X.
- (February 2005) Trains Timeline, Trains Magazine, Kalmbach Publishing, p. 9.
- Wayner, Robert J., ed. (1972). Car Names, Numbers and Consists. New York: Wayner Publications. OCLC 8848690.
- Zimmermann, Karl (2004). Burlington's Zephyrs. Saint Paul, MN: MBI Publishing Company. ISBN 978-0-7603-1856-0.
- Byron, Carl R. (January 2006). Pioneer Zephyr : America’s First Diesel-Electric Stainless Steel Streamliner. Heimburger House Publishing. ISBN 0-911581-58-8.
- Morgan, David P. (1963). Diesels West. Milwaukee, Wisconsin: Kalmbach Publishing. LCCN 62019987.
- Chronicle of the rise of diesel power on the Burlington with specific emphasis on the Pioneer Zephyr, its record-setting run, and its descendants.
- "The Burlington Zephyr". Rail Enthusiast. EMAP National Publications. January 1983. pp. 10–13. ISSN 0262-561X. OCLC 49957965.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Pioneer Zephyr.|
- All Aboard the Silver Streak: Pioneer Zephyr, image and exhibit of the Pioneer Zephyr at the Chicago Museum of Science and Industry
- Zephyr Patents—PDF reproductions of the patents developed for construction of the Pioneer Zephyr.
- Illinois Railway Museum official website—Home of many more Burlington artifacts, including the Nebraska Zephyr trainset.
- Pioneer Zephyr images[permanent dead link], Denver Public Library, Western History Collection
- "New Streamline Train Has Hit 125-Mile Speed", Popular Science, July 1934