Crews prepare the rails to be the new home of the Zephyr. Photo by Jim Headley

Placing rails from 1946-47, city crews prepared for next week’s moving of the Silver Horizon California Zephyr Friday morning to the former Rotary Park.

The Zephyr railcar has been in place next to the Amtrak station since 2001. Maricopa Historical Society purchased the car from Pinal County in 2017. The construction of the State Route 347 overpass across the Union Pacific tracks hastened the removal of the car.

Society President Paul Shirk said the Zephyr would be removed by crane on Jan. 10. The railcar, which weighs 116,000 pounds, will be hoisted onto a truck and driven east to its new home next to the old swimming pool. There, the cranes will again lift the car and place it on the newly installed rails.

By coincidence, the rails are the same age as the railcar. The California Zephyr ran the Burlington Northern route from Chicago to Los Angeles starting in the ’40s and retired in 1970. It appeared in the 2001 movie Pearl Harbor.

The removal of the Zephyr on Thursday morning will cause traffic restrictions on Maricopa-Casa Grande Highway and parking restrictions around the area. At 86 feet in length, it fits in the space of a basketball court, Shirk said.

“I went out there and measured to make sure,” he said.

The removal is slated to start around 10 a.m.

The Zephyr does not have electricity, a situation that will soon change. Shirk said the Society expects to have historical information on display inside and eventually use it to host events again.

The Zephyr needs to move now while there is still space for the required cranes next to the site of the overpass construction. Photo by Raquel Hendrickson

Concept for future landscaping at the home of the Zephyr. (City of Maricopa)