Western Pacific 805-A was built
by Electro Motive Division of General Motors in 1950 as part of an
A-B-A set of 2 "cab" units and 1 cabless "booster" units for the
roads flagship "California Zephyr" passenger train. Built at a
cost of $544,615 for the three unit set.
This cab unit, typically
accompanied by its two cabless “B” units, hauled the train between
Oakland, California and Salt Lake City, Utah from 1950 until March
22, 1970, when the train was discontinued. The 805-A was then
placed into freight service.
In 1972, WP purchased 15
General Electric U23B locomotives and turned in the 805-A for credit
toward their purchase. General Electric sold the unit to the
Wellsville, Addison and Galeton Railroad in Pennsylvania. After
that railroad was abandoned in 1977, the 805-A was transferred to
the Louisiana and Northwest Railroad in Louisiana, where it was used
until it was in need of an overhaul.
The Feather River Rail Society
wanted this locomotive for its Western Pacific Railroad collection
as it had become the last WP California Zephyr locomotive in
existence. Arrangements were made to purchase the locomotive in
1987 with the cost shared between members Steve Habeck, Larry Hanlon
and John Ryczkowski. FRRS joined as the fourth partner in the
The 805-A was cosmetically
restored by Bill Evans and David Dewey. With this work completed, a
rededication ceremony was held on May 27, 1995.
In early 2000, the FRRS
launched the Zephyr Project to raise money for a complete mechanical
restoration of the 805-A and restoration of the CZ dome car “Silver
Today, the 805-A is fully
restored, operational, and has even returned to the main line, going
to Reno for the 2004 Western Pacific Railroad Historical Society
convention. The 805-A is the only surviving, intact locomotive
built specifically for the California Zephyr, and one of the "Crown
Jewels" of the Western Pacific Railroad Museum.