Vintage dome rail car headed to Oregon as part of its restoration journey

Silver View was part of the Twin Cities Zephyr

OREGON — A conversation on a rail tour started the wheels turning for a vintage rail car’s move to the Oregon Depot for its next restoration phase.

And next week, the sleek parlor car should arrive at its new home.

“It is on the way,” said Roger Cain, one of the Oregon Depot volunteers helping with the project.

So how does one of the signature Vista Dome cars for Burlington’s famed Twin Cities Zephyrs make it to Oregon?

Well, the journey began when former Oregon resident Peter Medins, now of Woodstock, met Mike Abernethy, of St. Charles, the owner of the Silver View. The two were on a rail tour when they started talking about Abernethy’s ongoing restoration work on the sleek rail car that was sitting in Charles City, Iowa.

Medins, who remembers taking a trip from Oregon to Minneapolis on the Twin Cities Zephyr as a child, suggested Abernethy move the Silver View closer to St. Charles and proposed the Oregon Depot.

Earlier this year, officials from the Burlington Northern-Santa Fe (BNSF) agreed to replace and upgrade the “house” track — the track that once served the freighthouse — just west of the Oregon Depot for the Silver View to sit on.

That track, located north of the active BNSF freight line, will be the Silver View’s new home during its next restoration phase.

The Oregon Depot Museum Board was offered a $5,000 matching donation from Medins for costs associated moving with the Silver View. The Oregon Depot Board matched his donation with funds given by local donors.

On Tuesday, Medins handed his check to Cain.

“I remember when R.L. Sharick took kids on one of the last trips the Twin Cities Zephyr made from Chicago to Minneapolis,” said Medins. “He had a ‘Golden Pass’ since he had been with the railroad for 50 years, so we got on at 6 a.m., went to Minneapolis, had lunch and came back home.”

The Twin Cities Zephyr stopped running through Oregon in 1971, Medins said.

“Oregon was a stop on the Twin Cities route and Mike remembered Oregon with the Black Hawk Statue and the bridge. It was kind of like ‘old home week’ when I met him,” Medins said.

Abernethy is president and tour operator of Zephyr Route, a small privately owned business he launched to fund the restoration of the Silver View. His website is: www.zephyrroute.com.

“We are dedicated to offering high quality rail tours reminiscent of the way rail travel was operated in the past,” Abernethy’s website reads.

Earlier this week, the Canadian National Railway transported the Silver View to East Dubuque, and then to Savanna. After a unscheduled detour to Prairie du Chien, Wisconsin and a layover in Lacrosse, the car was expected to arrive in Oregon Aug. 4.

The Oregon Depot has been restored by local volunteers and houses a museum that reflects the history of train travel to and from the town of 3,800, located 40 miles west of DeKalb. For more information about the Oregon Depot visit http://oregonil.com/oregon-depot-museum/.

Silver View Facts

The following information was provided by the Oregon Depot.

Silver View was built by the Budd Co. and delivered to the Burlington on Nov. 29, 1947. It immediately became one of the signature Vista Dome cars for the Burlington’s famed Twin Cities Zephyrs. The Twin Cities Zephyrs operated between Chicago and its names’ sake cities. It was marketed as “where natures smiles for 300 miles.”

Silver View and its sister car, Silver Vista, both operated as daytime parlor cars with one drawing room.

Their domes were configured with the customary 24 seats. The “main floor” of the cars had 26 parlor seats in the tail/observation end.

Earleen Hinton

Earleen oversees production and content of 9 community weeklies and has worked for Shaw Newspapers since 1985.