This story was originally posted on the Disney Insider blog.
All Aboard! We visited the annual Fullerton Railroad Days in Orange County, California, and brought back a story to share just with you. The event brings together railroad enthusiasts young and old at the Downtown Fullerton Train Station, offering visitors the chance to see full-scale and model locomotives along with railroad cars in an intimate setting right beside the working train yard.
This year, one special train made the trip from Anaheim to visit for the weekend — the Disneyland Railroad was in town to show off Engine #4, the Ernest S. Marsh, the second time the train has been outside of the park since it’s acquisition in 1959.
Guests were able to hop onboard and see the engine cab of the famed locomotive up-close and personal. In addition, honorary train engineers experienced what crew of the Disneyland Railroad see when sitting at the helm of the train as it makes its grand circle tour around the park.
From East Coast to West Coast, the Ernest S. Marsh made quite the journey to get to Disneyland Park. “The engine came from a rock quarry in New Jersey,” said Craig, an engineer on the Disneyland Railroad. “When it first arrived at Disneyland, it featured a saddle tank (a water tank carried above the boiler of a steam locomotive) on top of the engine. We took it off and put a tender (coal car) on the back. This allowed us the opportunity to add in an additional seat, so guests could experience riding up in the cab with the engineer and fireman.”
The chance to see the controls of a steam-powered locomotive up close offers a unique experience to satisfy the curiosity of train lovers from all over. “It’s a one-of-a-kind experience,” said Randall, a conductor on the Disneyland Railroad. “Growing up as a kid, you see these giant machines, and the mechanics of them really make you want to learn how they work. Trains are something that nearly everyone can relate to.”
Trains have long been a staple at Disney Parks around the globe; an experience that goes back to Walt Disney himself — from his humble beginnings on the Missouri-Pacific Railroad selling soda pop and newspapers, to his miniature train set in the backyard of his Holmby Hills home. “He wanted people to ride on his little engines,” said Craig. “When he was designing the park, he wanted to expand that to a much more grand scale.”
The steam trains played an integral role in the creation of the park — Walt was even at the throttle of Engine #2, the E.P. Ripley, on Disneyland’s opening day in 1955. “Walt was a train lover, and he wanted steam trains in the park,” said Craig. “Even though diesel-powered trains were the norm back in 1955, he wanted steam-powered; and as many can attest, what Walt wanted, Walt got.”
And so, at the end of the weekend, Engine #4 was once again loaded onto a truck to head back home to the Happiest Roundhouse on Earth. Until next year, Railroad Days!
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