History of: The Disneyland Railroad
By Ryan Wilson
Well, it all started with one man's fascination with trains off all kinds. When Walt Disney was a small boy, in Marceline, he lived not too far from some railroad tracks, which sometimes would be where his uncle might be the engineer of a passing train. Ever since then Walt Disney had a passion for trains. Even in his childhood he went to work on one of the railroads. He had a definate fasicnation with trains!
After Walt had started his very own studio, he found that he had people on his staff who had the same passion for trains as he did. Some of them enjoyed working on minature "live-steamers." Animator, Ward Kimball, on the other hand did not have a minature "live-steamer". He wanted the real thing. Mr. Kimball had a full-sized operating locomotive in his own backyard! It was called the Grizzly Flat's Railroad. Thru seeing all this, Walt Disney's fascination of railroad's probably grew even more and more, Walt Disney eventually wanted his very own minature "live-steamer".
When Walt and his family bought a home in Holmby Hills, he told his wife Lillian that he wanted to have a train running around the property. She agreed, but she did not want her flower-garden bothered by the train. Well, Walt jumped at this chance. For months their backyard was the site of construction. Some land was moved, tunnels were made, and more. To remedy the problem with Lillian's flower-garden, Walt had a tunnel built right beneath it for his train to go thru. This way his wife didn't have to see nor hear it, and best of all it would not bother her flowers.
During this time, Walt Disney had the studio's machine shop start work on a steam train that Walt had chosen from the designs of other past steamers. Roger Broggie was key in the construction of Walt's minature steam locomotive. Mr. Broggie worked at the studio's machine shop. Mr. Broggie was also fascinated and also greatly enjoyed working on the train. They spent hours and hours building the locomotive. Finally, it was complete. Some cars for the locomotive were made (one of them...the caboose...was built completely by Walt). The cars and locomotive were put to the test at the studio. Later, as the tracks were being finished at the Disney home, they moved the locomotive and cars to Walt's home. Walt named it...The Carolwood Pacific. And, he named the engine the Lilly-Belle. He spent hours upon hours working on his train. He loved his train!
A few years later, Walt started planning for a family park. A place where kids and adults could have fun. The first designs of the park included a live railroad that circled the park, and that part of the design was kept to the finished product. Mr. Broggie was also a very large part in this project as well. He was key in the creation of these engines. It takes a lot of knowledge of how steam is used and the mechanics of an engine to build steam trains. It takes a lot of knowlege of different crafts as well to do so and to do it well. And it was very well done!
As Disneyland was being built, the Disneyland Railroad was being built as well. The Studio's machine shop was at it again. With already knowing how to build a live (minature) steam engine, they knew they had some experience to help them in building two scaled engines for the Disneyland Railroad. Work also progressed in sound stages at the studio. The work began on the cars for the trains on some of the stages. Some were designed as passenger cars, others as freight cars. Though not all work was done at the studio. Work was also beginning at Disneyland. Workers were laying out the track and building the Main Street, Frontierland and other stations for the Disneyland trains to make stops at.
Later two other trains would be added to the Disneyland Railroad. These trains would be added just a few years after the opening of Disneyland
The Disneyland Railroad trains have circled Disneyland thousands and thousands of times since the park opened. To this day the trains still operate and continue to take guests around Disneyland Park. In addition the trains even pass..THE GRAND CANYON?! Yes that's right, the Grand Canyon. Right before Walt's death in 1966 a diarama of the Grand Canyon and the Primeval World (segments from the Ford Pavillion at the 1964/65 World's Fair) were added to the route. This can be found right after the Tomorrowland station on route to the Main Street Station.
It was Walt Disney's love of trains that brought us Disneyland. The Disneyland trains still are a favorite among guests. They run daily. Since Disneyland opened some of the stations have changed. The trains make stops at the Main Street Station, New Orleans Station, Fantasyland/Mickey's ToonTown Station, and the Tomorrowland Station. The Disneyland trains are a relaxing way to get away from the crowds and get from one spot of the park to the next. It took lot's of talented people to bring these trains to Disneyland. It just would not be Disneyland with out the Main Street Station, the announcements of the Disneyland trains arriving at a station, and the faint sounds of a train whistle on it's way to a station. Thanks to all of those who brought us these memories!
For more information about Disney Railroads, and history, go to: www.Carolwood.com.
Some information was found in "Walt Disney's Railroad Story," by Michael Broggie.