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 purchase.
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 Hostel".
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.
Western Pacific 805-A, 805-B & 805-C (later renumbered 805-D) pose for EMD's company photographer in January 1950 before leaving the factory in La Grange, Illinois.
Photos of the FP7's in an as delivered A-B-A set were very rare, if they even exist, as the CZ usually operated in an FP7-F7B-F3B consist. Also note that when shipped, the 805 number boards do not carry "A" or "C" suffixes. These were added after delivery to the WP.
WP 805-A makes a station stop in Sacramento, California with the California Zephyr in this 1964 photo.
WP 805-A at Oakland's Middle Harbor Road service facility taking on passengers transferring from San Francisco.
Western Pacific 805-A and sisters leaving Fremont, California and rolling through Niles Canyon on the California Zephyr. (silent video courtesy of
Retired at last! WP 805-A wears the faded colors of its former owner, Louisiana North West Railroad shortly after arriving "home" to Portola in 1987.
805-A under restoration at the Western Pacific Railroad Museum in July 1991.
WP 805-A poses with sisters WP 925-C, 707 & 2001 at the Western Pacific Railroad Historical Society's 2004 annual Convention in Reno, Nevada.
WP 805-A on display at the Western Pacific Railroad Museum in Portola, California in 2008.
WP 805-A waits for the arrival of the ""Mini-Zephyr" at Union Pacific's Portola yard. The Mini CZ was a special Amtrak train made up of 3 vintage California Zephyr private cars, running from the San Francisco Bay Area to Portola to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Western Pacific Railroad.
Western Pacific 805-A leans into the curve on the balloon track at the Western Pacific Railroad Museum with a train of museum owned and privately owned California Zephyr Cars during the 100 year anniversary celebrations at the museum in 2009.
The Western Pacific HEADLIGHT articles about WP 805-A:
Headlight # 20, Page 28: On the Property - Western Pacific FP7 #805-A
Headlight # 17, Page 1: WP FP7 #805-A leads CZ #18 at James, CA in 1967
Headlight # 17, Page 2: Portrait of the Feather
Headlight # 17, Page 16: On the Property - Western Pacific FP7 #805-A
Headlight # 11, Page 2: WP FP7 #805-A at Portola RR Museum
Headlight # 9, Page 67: Western Pacific Railroad Diesel Locomotives
Headlight # 9, Page 94: Preserved Western Pacific Locomotives