LAST MONTH we looked at the steampowered railroads at Disneyland, Knott's Berry Farm, and Six Flags over Texas. This month we'll conclude our tour with a look at Cedar Point, Silver Dollar City and more.
The Cedar Point & Lake Erie Railroad, circling the grounds at Sandusky, Ohio's Cedar Point Amusement Park, was inspired by the Disneyland Railroad. Its builder, George Roose, purchased the well-established but floundering Cedar Point park in the late 1950s with the intention of turning its 450 acres along Lake Erie into a housing development. However, after a trip to California and a visit to Disneyland, Roose reconsidered and decided to update and redevelop the park into the attraction it is today.
Rouse wanted to build a steam railroad at Cedar Point along the lines of the Disneyland & Santa Fe, but the board of directors balked at the idea and wouldn't appropriate funds for its construction. Roose eventually built and financed the CP&LE himself, paying Cedar Point a portion of ticket revenues to lease the railroad's right-of-way. The CP&LE quickly became one of the park's most popular rides, hauling 370,000 passengers in its first year of operation. In 1970, that figure rose to an astounding 4,500,000
Today, the Cedar Point Amusement Park has grown to become one of the largest and best parks in the country, and the narrow gauge steam trains, though mostly overshadowed by Cedar Point's outstanding roller coasters and other large rides, are still an important part of the park and a popular attraction. The trains haul 2,000,000 pas
sengers a year in open-air conches built on the trucks of retired D&RGW narrow gauge stock cars. Trains roll over n two-mile loop surrounding the Frontier Town area, with stops at two stations. The 15-minute ride passes over several bridges, including a long wooden trestle over the park's lagoon, and a through a wild west town.
There are currently six steam locomotives at Cedar Point; three are operational. All are from different builders and different backgrounds, but have a "family" look about them with red drivers, cowcatchers and domes; box headlights; polished wood cabs; and brass trim. Remarkably, all operating equipment remains coal-fired and still has original link-and-pin couplers.
Beginning in 1960, Roose crossed the country looking for small steam engines for the CP&LE. His first purchase in 1961 was the Maud L. (now at Disneyland) that he acquired from Arthur LaSalle's American Railway Equipment Association of Billiard, Florida. It was rebuilt by LaSalle and ready for service in time for the CP&LE's opening day in 1963.
Another steamer was needed, so Rouse leased a small 2-6-0 from LaSalle that had been rebuilt two years earlier for the Cherokee Wonderland, a small scenic line at Cherokee, North Carolina. The Mogul, built by Davenport in 1910, had originally worked at the Levert-St. John sugar cane plantation of St. Martinville, Louisiana, as their No.3, the Albert. After it was retired and sold for scrap, Albert was purchased in 1959 by LaSalle and backdated to appear as a Civil Warera locomotive ft the Cherokee Wonderland. It proven too small for that operation, so in early 1963 it was sent to Cedar
Point to alternate duties with the Maude L. Although initially leased to the CP&LE, the Albert was purchased by the railroad in 1964 and last ran around 1990. Right now it is a static display in Froatiertown.
Roose continued acquiring steam locomotives for many years; some he restored for use at Cedar Point. while others never left his private collection. Roose purchased Wayne Coal Company No.22, a 1922 Vulcan-built 0-4-0T, in 1963. It had changed hands many times over the years. Owners included Shook & Fletcher Supply of Champion, Alabama; Albion Kaolin and Standard Coated Products of Hepzibah, Georgia; and Merry Brothers Brick & Tile of Augusta, Georgia. In poor shape when it arrived in Ohio, the 0-4-OT was quickly rebuilt into a 2-4-0 with the addition of a lead truck and tender and the removal of its saddle tanks. Today No.22, which was named the Myron H. in 1981 to honor Myron Hetrick, a former CP&LE superintendent, sees frequent service at Cedar Point. It was completely overhauled in the 1990s by Shop Services of Mount Pleasant, Iowa.
Also purchased in 1963 was former Acme Brick Company No.5, a 1940 Porter 0-4-0T that worked all of its life in Perris, Arkansas. It was converted into a 2-4-0 by the CP&LE and numbered 2, the Jennie K. after the wife and granddaughter of Jack Foster, a longtime CP&LE official, It is presently out of service and on static display pending rebuilding. (No.2 is sometimes confused with the Ida P., a 1909 Porter 0-4-0T that was leased to the railroad from 1963-1966 by MA. Patout & Son. When its lease was up, Ida P. was returned and is now in storage at Patoutville, Louisiana.)
Former Carbon Limestone No.34 came to the CP&LE in 1964. Porter constructed it in March 1942 as a 38 gauge 0-4-0T. When re
tired in 1962, it and several sisters were sold to Arthur LaSalle and converted to 36' gauge for use on American narrow gauge track. No.34 itself was modified into a 2-4-0 to replace Albert at the Cherokee Wonderland, and named Victoria R.L When that railroad went out of business, the 2-4-0 was sold to Cedar Point and became CP&LE No.4. Nearly 40 years later it is still in serviceable condition, and was renamed the George R. in 1981 to honor CP&LE founder George Roose. Today "Big George" is the largest operable engine on the roster.
The Judy K. is a 1922 Vulcan 2-4-0 that was originally an 0-4-OT saddletanker. Its last assignment was hauling gravel for the Lehigh Stone Company of Lehigh. Illinois. Worn out, it was acquired by the railroad for scrap prices in 1968 but required a complete rebuilding before it could run again. Initially carrying the number 5, in 1974 it was named the Jack Foster after the first superintendent of the CP&LE. Following a twoyear rebuilding in 1992, it was christened the Judy K. after the wife of Cedar Point president Richard Kinzel.
The latest addition to the CP&LE is the only locomotive yet to be named. This 2-4-4T No.55, a 1927 Davenport, is a converted tank engine that was formerly Walt Disney World's Ward Kimball. It began life as a homely 0-4-OT working for the N&S Coal Company of Mulberry, Kansas, and later was sold (along with the company) to the Mackie Clements Fuel Company which gave it the number 55. After retirement it was stored for years and deteriorated badly.
In the early 1970s No.55 was one of several historic steam engines acquired by the Marriott Corporation that they intended to repair for use in their Great America theme parks. They subsequently contracted with the Keystone Light Railway Company of
Hermoinie, Pennsylvania, to overhaul the engines. No.55, the worst of the lot, was the first selected for renovation. It was heavily modified by Keystone to resemble a 2-4-4RT like those that had worked on the Chicago Elevated. Unfortunately, Marriott balked at the high cost of the restoration, and contracted with another company to convert some other (possibly Davenport) tank engines to diesel power, leaving No.55 as the oddball steamer of the bunch. Although it was delivered to the Great America park north of Chicago in 1980, it never ran at any of the Great America parks, and years of storage caused significant deterioration to its cab and plumbing. (Three of the unrestored engines owned by Marriott were eventually donated to the Illinois Railway Museum, which sold them to raise funds. They have since been cosmetically restored and placed on display in museums in Oxnard, California; Denver, Colorado; and Worthington, Minnesota.)
A reprieve for No.55 came in the early 1990s when it was sold to an individual who had it returned to running condition by Shop Services. Later the 2-4-4RT was traded to Disney in exchange for the Retlaw-1 narrow gauge coaches, and No.55 was subsequently shipped to Walt Disney World, where it was christened the (first) Ward Kimball and put into service in 1997. Unfortunately, the locomotive did not work as planned, and in 1999 Disney arranged to trade No.55 to Cedar Point for the much smaller Maud L. (which is scheduled to become the "second" Ward Kimball). For now, the former N&S Coal No.55 is in storage, but it may join the five other CP&LE steam
era in the operating fleet. It is the only oilfired locomotive owned by the railroad.
The Cedar Point & Lake Erie operates every day the park is open to the public. Two trains are in operation each day during the peak season, and one each day in the off-season. Like most big theme parks, you must pay the full admission price to see the train, but rides are unlimited. For the latest schedules and fares, consult the Cedar Point website at www.cedarpoint.com.
Silverwood Theme Park
Athol, Idaho, is home to the Silverwood Theme Park and its three-foot-gauge Silverwood Central Railroad. The 700-acre park started as an aircraft museum in the mid 1980s, but owner Gary Norton soon built a replica logging town and narrow gauge railroad to attract more tourists. More recently a water park and several roller coasters (including one from Knott's) have turned Silvenvood from a historical park into a fullfledged amusement park.
To power the Silverwood Central, Norton
purchased at auction a 1915 Porter 2-6-2, formerly No.7 of the Eureka-Nevada Railway. The engine was one of the last locomotives purchased by the E-N, successor of the Eureka & Palisade Railroad. It ran in the hot Nevada desert for all its working life.
After retirement in 1938, No.7 was sold and wound up on static display at the Pony Express Museum at Pasadena, California, before becoming part of the Harrah's collection in Reno, Nevada, from which Norton purchased it. The Prairie was restored in the late 1980s and has been the primary motive power for the Silvenvood Central ever since. It has been modified with a large wood pilot, brass trim, and a flashy paint job, but has retained its straight stack and electric headlight. The train operates over a threemile loop featuring trestles, S-curves, and steep grades; passengers ride wooden coaches or open-air cars, and there are several authentic narrow gauge work cars on the property, including an East Broad Top hopper and several Southern Pacific box cars.
Also on the property and currently up for sale is former Kahului Railroad 2-6-2 No. 12, a 1928 Baldwin. It originally worked in Hawaii, but came to the mainland in 1967 and changed hands several times. It was brought to Silverwood and restored in 1988, but is not often used. A third engine, a Harpur-built /s scale 4-4-0, was purchased from the Astroworld theme park in Texas in 1987 but proved too small. It is currently in storage on the Durango & Silverton.
Silverwood is a seasonal park, open from May to October. For more information consult their web page at www.silverwoodthemepark.corn.
Walt Disney World
Four three-foot gauge Baidwins (A 4-4-0, 2-6-0, and two 4-6-Os) repatriated from Mexico pull passenger trains on the Walt Disney World Railroad. All have been completely rebuilt in recent years by the Tweetsie Railroad shops at Blowing Rock, North Carolina. Ten-Wheeler No.3, the Roger E. Broggie, was to be rededicated this October after undergoing a thorough overhaul. See Steve Barry's November 2003 MARKERS for more details and photographs of these engines and tips on the best places to photograph them.
Silver Dollar City
It's been steaming through the Ozarks since 1962. Thousands ride it each year. The Oak Ridge Boys even sang about it. Why is it, then, that the Frisco Silver Dollar Line at Branson's Silver Dollar City is literally unknown among steam fans? Besides the country & western shows and attractions, Branson, Missouri, is also home to the Silver Dollar City theme park. Part of the attraction there is the Frisco Silver Dollar Line, a 24 gauge, three-mile railroad that takes park guests deep into the Ozark woods. It's one of the few theme park railroads that still stops midway through the ride for a show (in this case, a shootout with the "bad guys.")
Motive power consists of several U.S. and German-built two-foot-gauge steam locomotives, most "Americanized" with diamond stacks and wooden cowcatchers. The first locomotive on the line was a 1922 Davenport 0-4-OT from the Wayne County Board of Roads Commission. In 1962 it was converted into a 2-4-2 and a tender was added along
with a diamond stack and other "wild west" fixtures. Numbered 76, the Davenport operated on the Frisco line (wearing Frisco "coonskin" heralds) until it was retired in the 1980s. It is currently on display.
Several German engines, which are 60 centimeter gauge (close enough to operate on two-foot gauge track) are in use at Silver Dollar City. Two 1934 Orenstein & Koppellbuilt 0-4-OTs were purchased from Peter Buescher & Sohn of Mueater, Germany, in 1965. One of these, No.43, has been restored to service as a 2-4-OT and is in use today. A larger 1938 Orenstein & Koppell 2-4-OT, former Kies unit Schotterwerke Nordmark No. 13, is also in use and retains its large European-style cab. The newest engine on the roster is a 1940 2-4-OT built by KolbenDanek for Hans Vatter, AG., which carries the number 76. There is also a 1918 Henschel 0-4-OT in storage. All locomotives are painted red and carry the Frisco herald.
Silver Dollar City is open April through December, and trains run when the park is open. For more information contact them at www.silverdollarcity.com.
Dollywood and Tweetsie
Both of these operations have been recently covered in the pages of R&R by me ('Those Wandering White Pass & Yukon Route Mikados," LINESIDE July 2003), Tony Reevy ("Tweetsie Country Today," October 2002) and Dennis L. Peterson ("Hooray for Dollywood," August 1999). However, I can't in good conscience leave them out of this column. Suffice it to say, both parks operate narrow gauge equipment from the White Pass & Yukon Route, and the Tweetsie features an original East Tennessee & Western North Carolina 4-6-0. Unlike most other amusement park railroads that have converted their locomotives to oil or propane firing, the locomotives at both Tweetsie and Dollywood remain coal-fired. Both railroads also have done an excellent job of preserving and restoring equipment, although most of it wears bright "tourist" colors.
There are a number of parks that I do not have space to cover in detail. Edaville is now more a theme park than a historic park; they currently operate a 1938 HudswellClarke steamer. Six Flags America of Largo, Maryland, has Porter 0-4-4T Beatrice from Patent's Enterprise Plantation, which once ran under steam at Nashville's now defunct Opryland Amusement Park, but has since been converted to 2-4-0 diesel operation. Six Flags Great America in Gurnee, Illinois, has two Davenport 0-4-Os converted to internal combustion. The Omaha Zoo Railway in Omaha has an authentic 30" gauge 0-6-2 from Austria in service. Six Flags Fiesta Texas in San Antonio has a Porter tank engine converted to diesel. Six Flags over Georgia is currently using a German narrow gauge steamer with a diesel in its tender. Agrirama of Tifton, Georgia, has two standard-gauge tank engines; one is currently in service.
This column was truly a group effort. I'd like thank the following individuals for their time and effort: Denis Larrick, Steven Eriksea, Bruce Pier, Randy Cntri, Phil Raynes, George Barlow, Ted Miles, Marty Knox and Dan Feicht.