Wisconsin Short Line Buys CB&Q Mark Twain Zephyr; Hopes to Run in 2021

The Mark Twain Zephyr as it appears today. Photo Courtesy of Wisconsin Great Northern Railroad.

Wisconsin Short Line Buys CB&Q Mark Twain Zephyr; Hopes to Run in 2021

By Railfan & Railroad Staff

TREGO, Wis. — A Chicago, Burlington & Quincy diesel-electric streamliner, the Mark Twain Zephyr, is beginning its journey to a new home in Wisconsin this week where a short line railroad hopes to restore the historic train to operation. The Wisconsin Great Northern Railroad announced this week that it had purchased the five-car train and that the power-car could begin heading north from its current home in St. Louis as early as Wednesday. 

The inside of the Mark Twain Zephyr. Photo Courtesy of Wisconsin Great Northern Railroad.

The Mark Twain Zephyr was built in 1935 as one of nine stainless steel passenger trains built for the CB&Q. It ran mostly between Burlington, Iowa and St. Louis until 1958. The train has had multiple owners since 1959, many who hoped to restore it, but none of those plans ever came to fruition. It has been sitting outside in the St. Louis area for a number of years. On June 29, WGNR owners Greg and Mardell Vreeland purchased the train. The owner said that the entire train will be moved over the course of the next few months and the railroad’s electricians, carpenters and mechanical engineers will work on it for the next year with the goal of having it in service on the railroad by late 2021. The railroad offers excursions throughout the year. Greg Vreeland said the Mark Twain Zephyr will become one of the crown jewels of railroad preservation when it is completed.

“The heritage rail industry is witnessing the revival of several great historic treasures in the past year with the restoration to of the Union Pacific Big Boy, the purchase and return to operation of the East Broad Top, and now the fabled Mark Twain Zephyr begins its’ journey back to operation. We at the Wisconsin Great Northern Railroad are proud to undertake such a worthy endeavor,” he said. “The Mark Twain Zephyr gives our craftsmen an opportunity to showcase their skills by rebuilding one of the first streamlined trains.”

The public will have a chance to see the power-car of the train first hand as it travels through Illinois and Wisconsin. The railroad is encouraging people to follow the train on Facebook and Twitter for updates on its location. 

Mark Twain’s signature on the rear of the train. Photo Courtesy of Wisconsin Great Northern Railroad.

This article was posted on: July 28, 2020