Mike Abernathy became acquainted with the Burlington Twin Zephyrs in early childhood. Several rides from Prairie du Chien, Wisconsin to Chicago, Illinois and many visits to the depot created a special affection for the Burlington Route. It was an extra special ‘treat’ seeing SILVER VIEW adorn the Twin Zephyr. All of the exposures to the Twin Zephyrs convinced me that I wanted to be a part of the Burlington Route Passenger Department as my lifelong career.
My family moving to Elgin, IL enabled me to work for the Burlington Route Passenger Department during my college summers, 1965-1969. Some teenage correspondence and a meeting with Mr Julius Ams, General Passenger Traffic Manager, helped open the door to become a Burlington Department employee, but it was not to happen. By 1971, Amtrak took command of the United States passenger service and eliminated most of the newly formed Burlington Northern routes. I was so disheartened that I gravitated to an alternate career as an elementary teacher. However, even to this day, I have never forgotten the quality experience that the Burlington Route Zephyrs provided. To be seated in a parlor car or coach seat, dine at a Burlington Route dining car table, and view the scenery from a vista dome were precious time for me and other passengers who chose the Zephyrs as a way of travel.
After my parents passed away and left me inheritance monies, I decided to pursue purchasing my favorite Zephyr railcar, SILVER VIEW. I became aware that other people had purchased and restored vintage railcars. I felt that SILVER VIEW was one of the greatest railcars ever built, and restoring it to become one of the best charter railcars would be a successful business. In 2002, I became the proud owner of SILVER VIEW.
Large amounts of monies are required to restore a railcar. Unfortunately I am not a person who has large sums of money. In order to establish myself in the private realtor charter business, I created my realtor company, Zephyr Route. Any net profits from bookings on my tours go directly to restore SILVER VIEW.
The combination of the Oregon Depot Museum and SILVER VIEW would provide visitors with a true active understanding of the history of Burning Route passenger train travel, from the place where tickets were purchased, the waiting for the train to arrive, boarding a genuine Zephyr passenger car, and savoring traditional dining car style meals prepared from the Burlington Route recipe book.
Over the years of owning SILVER VIEW, it has become evident to me that I have become a caretaker and custodian of that car. Furthermore, I have recognized that what I want to accomplish is to continue the legacy of the Burlington Route Zephyrs for future present and future generations. Combining the Oregon Depot Museum and SILVER VIEW can deliver the goal of continuing the Burlington Route history and legacy.