Celebrate the Rich History


Trainfest proudly honors the contribution railroads have made to history. Each year the Celebrate-a-Railroad program turns the spotlight on one railroad by offering special issue collectibles and by creating an original high-quality historical exhibit with plenty of photos. 

Trainfest 2019

What's in a Name


Throughout its history, the CB&Q has been known by several names and nicknames – often used interchangeably.

While officially the railroad was named the Chicago, Burlington, & Quincy, a few of its common nicknames were … CB&Q, the Q, Burlington Route, and the Burlington.

Here's a Sneak Peek of the CB&Q Display

Many thanks to the BNSF Foundation for sponsoring the CB&Q display and the members of the Burlington Route Historical Society who combed their archives to create it.

This year’s 32 panel Celebrate-a-Railroad Display is spectacular!

Parade of Progress

In just over a century, the Burlington went from a 12-mile route using the borrowed Galena & Chicago Union 4-2-0 Pioneer to traversing over 8,000 route-miles and introducing the massive EMD SD45.

The Burlington was known to be a driving force in the development of better, more powerful, and more efficient motive power. In 1965, the Burlington calendar illustrated its locomotion milestones in the “Parade of Progress” when posing five landmark locomotives on the Galesburg roundhouse leads.

01 - Brochure Title Collage

A 3-Way Race to Chicago and the Twin Cities

To say that railroads were extremely competitive, is an understatement. To be the first, fastest and best perceived was a daily operating mantra. Railroad execs would meet on holidays. Nothing stood in their way.

The CB&Q was no different. There was a fierce competition between the Burlington and both the Chicago & North Western and Milwaukee Road for passenger traffic between Chicago and the Twin Cities.

On January 2, 1935, the C&NW fired the first shot with the introduction of their famous “400” trains. The Burlington followed a short three months later with the diesel-powered, streamlined Twin Cities Zephyr. Not to be left in the dust, the Milwaukee inaugurated their steam-powered, streamlined Hiawatha trains only a month after the Zephyrs.

Burlington Twin Cities Zephyrs

The Twin Zephyrs were christened on April 14, 1935. Forty-four pairs of biological twins were divided between the two trains, one twin in each train set. The two trains then proceeded side-by-side from Aurora, IL, to Chicago for the first of the ceremonies in Union Station. The following day, the Twin Zephyrs again rode side-by-side on a high-speed round-trip from Chicago to St. Paul and Minneapolis’ Great Northern Depot for christening ceremonies in the Twin Cities.

The Twin Zephyrs began revenue service on April 21, 1935, as a 3-car articulated train set, averaging 66.31 MPH for the 431-mile one-way trip. On June 2, 1935, the Twins began twice-daily service with 9901 becoming the Morning Zephyr and 9902 the Afternoon Zephyr.

With its quick turnarounds, the Burlington was able to use only two trainsets to cover the schedule. This practice was renowned for how it gained efficiency and maximized equipment utilization. It allowed the Burlington to double capacity and provide two daily departures to meet the tremendous popularity created.

On December 18, 1936,the Burlington introduced two new 7-car Twin Zephyrs to replace the original Twins. An additional dinette coach was added in 1937 to create the new 8-car trainsets. These trainsets were labeled as “Heritage from the Gods.” One trainset was the “Train of Gods” and the other the “Train of Goddesses.”

Each locomotive and car were named after a god from classical mythology. The motive power units were named Zephyrus and Pegasus, cocktail lounges Apollo and Venus, coaches Neptune, Mars, Vesta, Minerva, dinette coach Cupid and Psyche, diners Vulcan and Ceres, parlor cars Mercury and Diana, and parlor-lounges Jupiter and Juno.

With the successful testing of the new, Burlington-built Vista Dome, the Burlington introduced two new 7-car Vista Dome equipped Zephyrs. Each trainset had five domes so passengers could enjoy the beauty of the Mississippi valley where, according to the Advertising Department, “Nature Smiles for 300 Miles.”

These trains were not articulated as were the previous two editions. This enabled the Burlington to rotate cars out for maintenance and adjust train length to fit demand. Depicted here is the Vista Dome Twin City Zephyr crossing the famous stone arch in Minneapolis, after departing the Great Northern Depot, to begin its high-speed journey to Chicago.

The Burlington had the longest route of the three railroads competing in the Chicago-Minneapolis corridor with 427 miles between Chicago and St. Paul. This compared to 421 for the Milwaukee and 408 for the Chicago and North Western.

In 1940, the westbound Morning Zephyr was the fastest scheduled train covering the 427 miles from Chicago to St. Paul in 6 hours, averaging 71.2 MPH, besting the times of the Hiawatha’s average of 65.6 and the 400’s average of 65.4.

Shown here is the east bound Zephyr arriving at East Winona, Wisconsin, with shovel nose 9905, Zephyrus leading and assisted by an E5B. The E5 B-units were the only passenger E-series B-units owned by the Burlington.

In 1953 the eastbound Morning Zephyrs would cover the 57.7 miles from La Crosse to Prairie Du Chen in 41 minutes at an average speed of 84.4 MPH. The westbound counterparts averaged 86.2 MPH for the 38 miles from East Dubuque, IL, to Prairie Du Chen, WI.

Shown here is the 7-car TCZ just north of East Dubuque, Iowa in 1952, where it is speeding northbound through the Mississippi River marshes with an AB set of E5s.

Chicago & North Western 400s

The C&NW was the first to inaugurate a high-speed train between Chicago and St. Paul/Minneapolis on January 2,1935.The train was introduced as the “400” showcasing the running time of approximately 400 miles in 400 minutes. Furthermore, in society circles, “the four hundred” was a group of distinction, signifying the most exclusive social rank.

The 400 was powered by rebuilt E-2 class Pacific locomotives converted to oil-fired to be able to pull a 6-car train comprised of heavyweight equipment upgraded with air conditioning. Being oil-fired, it allowed the train to run the entire run without usual engine changes. C&NW selected steam over diesels as the railroad could not justify the higher cost of buying diesels to pull heavyweight cars despite the latter’s better acceleration.

The C&NW scored a major coup against its rivals by being the first to introduce a superspeed schedule placing it as the first railroad in the world with a sustained daily, highspeed train. To accomplish this, the route selected was the freight line between Chicago and Milwaukee and the Adams Cutoff between Milwaukee and Wyeville, WI. Using the freight line eliminated the stops using the line through Evanston, Kenosha and Racine, and the Adams Cutoff traversed small towns permitting higher sustained speeds.

Realizing that it would need to streamline the 400 to remain competitive, the C&NW introduced the streamlined 400 on September 24, 1939. Powered by two E3A diesels operating back-to-back, the train was configured of 10-car “streamlined cars” built by Pullman-Standard. The 400 consisted often 82’cars in the standard order of a baggage-taproom-lounge, four 56-seat coaches, a 56-seat diner, three 27-seat parlor cars, and a club-observation car with 12 parlor seats, bar and lounge. Pullman-Standard considered it the finest train to have rolled from its shops. The train that “Set the Pace for the World” was now a streamliner.

The eastbound 400 is shown here crossing the GN’s Stone Arch Bridge in Minneapolis after departing the Great Northern Depot, which was the western terminus of the 400. After the introduction of the streamlined 400, passenger counts increased dramatically, with the first year of streamlined operation exceeding the previous year by 46%.

The eastbound 400 is shown here arriving at the C&NW depot in Milwaukee. By the late 1950s, competition from the automobile and airplanes had eroded traffic and the 400 was losing money despite lowered fares and featuring $1.25 dining car menus. Simultaneously the railroad was facing the effects of the Interstate 94 construction which would parallel the route of the 400.

The railroad found itself in a precarious financial condition. The ICC approved the discontinuance of the 400 and its last run was on July 23, 1963.

The Milwaukee depot shown here no longer exists, the roadbed turned into a walking and bike path. The C&NW abandoned the depot, moving its remaining operations into the Milwaukee’s new depot in 1966.

Milwaukee Hiawatha’s

Inaugurated on May 29, 1935, the Milwaukee introduced two 7-car streamlined lightweight Hiawatha trains, trains 100 and 101.

Powered by two specifically built, oil-fired Atlantics from Alco (to eliminate fuel stops), the train featured a “Tip Top Tap Room” in the first car and a “Beavertail” parlor observation.

The Tip Top Tap Room was the first cocktail bar in an American passenger train and possibly the world, and was located at the front of the restaurant-buffet car. The remainder of the “Hi” consisted of three coaches, a parlor car, and the Beavertail parlor observation. All the cars were constructed in the Milwaukee’s own shops.

In 1937, the Milwaukee inaugurated a new, lighter 9-car train. Built in its own shops, the train featured the distinctive rib siding which would become synonymous with the Milwaukee (incorporating Cor-Ten steel and aluminum alloys in their construction). The Tip Top Tap Room was so popular, it was placed in a “express-tap” along with a 48-seat dining car, the largest at the time. Shown here the westbound Hiawatha makes its station stop at the Everett Street Station in Milwaukee.

Powered by a streamlined F74-6-4 Baltic steam locomotive, the 1939 Hiawatha debuted on  September 9, 1938. The cars featured the introduction of the new Nystrom passenger trucks, renowned for their smooth ride at high speed. The Hiawatha shown here consisted of the F7, express-tap, four coaches, a diner, and three parlor cars. The Beavertail parlor observation had been restyled to feature fins on the back of the car giving it a distinctive appearance. The styling of the F7 and the Beavertail observation was the work of Otto Kuhler.

On January 21, 1939, the Milwaukee introduced the Morning Hiawatha, trains 5 & 6. Trains 100 &101 became the Afternoon Hiawatha’s. The Morning Hiawatha’s included the addition of an RPO and express cars, streamlined to match the train. The new trains required the use of four trainsets on a daily basis as the schedule did not allow for fast turnaround of the trains (unlike the Burlington was able to accomplish with its two trainsets).

Logistically, the introduction of the coal-burning F7s required the installation of a special coal dock at New Lisbon to enable the westbound to take on more “black diamonds” during the station stop.

On May 29, 1948, the Milwaukee introduced the 1948 edition of the Hiawatha’s on trains 101 and100 – the 13th anniversary of the trains. The trains were powered by new 2,000 HP, E7A EMD locomotives.

The interiors and exteriors of the trains were styled by Brooks Stevens, a Milwaukee industrial designer, and included the famed “Skytop lounge-observations”. The popular express-tap was replaced by a tap-café. Built in their own shops under the direction of K. F. Nystrom, the cars were of smooth side construction and weighed nearly 8,600 lbs. less than cars commercially constructed to AAR standards.

The Hiawatha is pictured here crossing the Short Line Bridge in Minneapolis after departing its own depot in Minneapolis. During 1953, the Milwaukee purchased and added Super Dome cars to the Hiawathas. The Super Domes featured seating for 68 on the upper level and a café-lounge on the lower level.

The Super Domes were not as successful as the Vista Domes of the Burlington as their forward view was restricted and, by Milwaukee’s own standards, rough riding. On October 30, 1955, the UP shifted its City Streamliners from the C&NW to the Milwaukee Road between Chicago and Omaha, and the Milwaukee adopted the UP’s paint scheme for its own trains. By the late 1950s, the Hiawathas were losing money and the Afternoon Hiawathas made their final runs on January 23, 1970.

Interested in Learning More About The CB&Q?

Visit the Burlington Route Historical Society Website

Commemorative Items Celebrating the CB&Q

Trainfest 2019 Pin

Trainfest 2019 Pin FNL

Trainfest 2019 Plaque

Trainfest 2019 Plaque FNL


At one time, the utilitarian 40’ boxcar was the mainstay of the Burlington as well as other US railroads.  The Burlington was proud to recognize the equipping of one of the Havelock-built 40-footers with the 100,000th set of Unit Trucks.  The Havelock forces finished this car in July of 1948 and painted it in the one-of-a-kind green and cream paint scheme so that it would stand out from its then standard boxcar red.  The car was proudly displayed by the Q and the Unit Truck Corporation at the Chicago Railroad Fair.  Because of this important milestone, it has been chosen for this year’s Trainfest model of the year!

Celebrate-a-Railroad Archive

The 32-panel museum quality displays we’ve created for each of the railroads we’ve “celebrated” through the years are downloadable. Just click on the links below. Enjoy!

Celebrate-a-Railroad Exhibits are Available for Rent

Each display consists of 32 panels (72” H x 36” W) with Velcro mounting tabs on the back. Rental is $250 per 10-week period. Any group requesting the exhibit is responsible for covering shipping to and from Milwaukee, and must have insurance. Fill out the form below for more information.

Celebrate-a-Railroad Display Request