Amtrak serves the Phoenix metro area with a stop in"> Amtrak's Texas Eagle | a converted dome car from streamliner days
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a converted dome car from streamliner days
Maricopa, roughly 25 miles south of downtown Phoenix on State Route 347.

But this is is no ordinary stop. The station itself is a dome car from the golden age of privately owned long-distance train travel--the Silver Horizon. We hope you enjoy the short history that follows.

On March 20, 1949, a train was inaugurated that was destined to become an American legend: the California Zephyr. The train was operated by three railroads--the Burlington, the Rio Grande and the Western Pacific--on its route between Chicago and Oakland, Calif.

This train was unique in that it was designed for sightseeing rather than basic transportation. The equipment was built by the Budd Company in 1948: gleaming stainless-steel streamliners that captured the imagination of the traveling public for 20 years.

The California Zephyr carried 3 dome coaches and a dome buffet lounge, along with a diner and sleepers, but the "signature car" for the entire train was car line CZ-10, the graceful dome observation lounge which carried the markers on each consist.

There were ultimately 7 of these unique cars: 4 owned by the Burlington, 2 by the Western Pacific, and 1 by the Rio Grande. Each car contained 3 double bedrooms, a drawing room with private shower, and dome and observation seating for 50 Pullman passengers. When the original Californa Zephyr completed its last run, on March 22, 1970, the silver fleet was dispersed to various owners and uses.

The Silver Horizon (CB&Q #375) was one of a number of California Zephyr cars that were sold to Amtrak, becoming Amtrak #9250. Later the car was sold to private owners and partially gutted in an unfortunate attempt to modify the car's interior. Subsequent owners found it cost-prohibitive to repair or restore these modifications to return the car to service, and it was eventually sold for static use as the station for Maricopa, Arizona.

One of the Silver Horizon's last rail moves was in November 1999, when the Texas Eagle carried the car west for restoration as a unique station. In its current use, the Silver Horizon continues one aspect of its former owner: capturing the imagination of the traveling public.