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The name of the new Zilker Park train is here, and it's a blast from the past

Eric Webb
Austin 360
The new name of the Zilker train was revealed Friday.

Bird's the word: Austin Parks Foundation has unveiled the name of the new train set to chug through Zilker Park. Austin voters chose the Zilker Eagle from 750 name submissions, the foundation announced Friday.

If the name sounds familiar, it's because the first train to run through the city-center park in 1961 also was named the Eagle. That train ran until 1996. The Zilker Eagle name has been reauthorized by the owners of the original train, according to the foundation.

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Seven finalists were selected in the naming contest by a committee that included Austin Parks Foundation staff, foundation board of directors, community members and kids. The other finalist names were the Armadillo Express, the Bluebonnet Express, Edwina Justus (named after the first Black female engineer for Union Pacific Railroad), the Lady Bird Flyer, the Moontower Rambler and the Zilker Zanate.

The Zilker Eagle will start up this fall, according to the foundation; previously, they had set a summer 2021 target. It will be an electric mini train designed to evoke the Texas Eagle of the Missouri Pacific Railroad that ran through Austin in the 1940s and '50s. The new train and depot area will be ADA accessible.

The Zilker Zephyr miniature train passes through the Zilker Playground on April 9, 2017, a day where all of the park's amenities were made free to the public in celebration of Zilker Park's 100th anniversary.

Austin Parks Foundation will operate the Zilker Eagle, with proceeds going toward the park. Other sponsors and donors include CapMetro, Kendra Scott and Austin City Limits Music Festival.

Its direct predecessor, the Zilker Zephyr, launched in 1997 and shut down in May 2019 after a series of heavy rains damaged the track. Contract disagreements with the train’s former operator led to the permanent decommissioning of the Zephyr train.

From 2020:Zilker Zephyr managers say they’re done running Austin’s tiny train

In February 2020, Austin City Council passed a resolution that would allow the parks foundation to work on finding a new train, which has been a popular children’s ride in its past incarnations.