Posting vignettes based on great postcards found in my mail box and elsewhere.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Denver Zephyrs

The Zephyrs of the the Burlington (railroad) Route which passes through the American Midwest was once site of the world record holder for high speed trains. On October 23, 1936, the Denver Zephyrs set the record for long-distance non-stop runs from Chicago to Denver (1,017 miles) in 12 hours, 12 minutes for an average speed of 83.3 miles per hour. This particular run beat the previous record held by the original Zephyr, which began service in 1934, by 53 minutes. The top speed on the record run was 116 mph.

In an era of steam locomotives, these trains pointed to the future of rail power. They were diesel-powered and made of lightweight stainless steel. Their streamlined modernistic lines inspired a nation still hamstrung by the grip of the Great Depression. They pointed to a prosperous future. Yet, history intervened. World War II began six years later. Following the war, America invested heavily in automobile infrastructure and trains were placed on the backburner of public policy.

Reading a postcard price guide book the other day, I made a discovery that within my collection are several valuable postcards. The Denver Zephyrs two-color postcard above was valued at $8, according to Diane Allmen's book, The Official Identification and Price Guide to Postcards, published in 1990. Seeing that the book was published almost 20 years ago, I assume that valuation may have increased. If I wanted to sell it, which I do not, it might fetch $12 or maybe more. A quick search on line shows this train is very popular with collectors. Many views of the Zephyrs are going now for $35 and one for $395 here. The same search did not turn up my postcard, so maybe it is a rare find. Though I don't collect cards as an investment, it is always a delightful surprise to find out that my pack rat tendencies have some monetary value.


  1. Burlington Route and Zephyrs are my favorite trains. I have a saved search in ebay for "Burlington Route." I was curious, so I just looked at it and saw 7 with this same basic picture & design, but there were 3 variations of schedule. "Buy it now" prices ranged from under $5 to $15.

  2. as a little girl in colorado before we had the big leagues/or the Colorado Rockies we used to go watch Denver Zephyrs play

    sometimes there would be flyers or a roster featuring great images of the train and the story of the zephyr

    It is marvelous to see this postcard and be reminded of that time