Streamline design station, clad with Wisconsin Lannon Stone, built in 1943 and still in use
Photo taken by J.R. Manning in October 2013
The depot was designed by the Chicago architectural firm of Holabird and Root, utilizing the streamlined mid-century modern aesthetic that became popular in the Art Deco era.
Like many American railroads, the CB&Q experienced tremendous passenger growth during World War II that it hoped to retain in the post-war years. With intense competition for passenger service, in 1934, the CB&Q began service with streamlined, stainless-steel, articulated trains known as the Zephyrs. The most famous of the trains was known as the California Zephyr that was actually slower than other passenger service between Chicago and San Francisco, but the California Zephyr was successful because of breathtaking scenery offered by the Rocky Mountain crossing. The California Zephyr continues as one of Amtrak's most popular passenger trains.
The Burlington Depot's streamlined styling and contemporary finishes reflected the Zephyr fleet and the forward thinking of the CB&Q. The dedication ceremony held on March 28, 1944. The second story was used for CB&Q operations and provided rest areas for crews relaxing between shifts.
After the war, passenger traffic began to dwindle with the growth of the airlines, automobiles and improved highways. Zephyr service continued until the advent of Amtrak in 1971 but the name, California Zephyr, is still used by Amtrak.
Eventually, the CB&Q was absorbed into the Burlington Northern but the railroad's namesake city continues to reflect its pride in the history and tradition from the Golden Era of Railroading.