Disneyland Rail Road
Retlaw originally custom-built all of its full-scale 3 ft (914 mm) narrow gauge equipment in house, through creative financing paying his other companies for the work. In addition to the unpowered rolling stock, WED Enterprises constructed the original two locomotives in the roundhouse at Disneyland (then located West of Hollidayland) under the supervision of Roger Broggie, the first Imagineer, on temporary reassignment from the duties of Machinist/Engineer at the Disney Studios Camera Shops. The locomotives are examples of “American”-style 4-4-0s. Using the 1/8 scale miniature CP #173 Lilly Belle live steam locomotive (pictured) which Walt commissioned Broggie to fabricate for his backyard Carolwood Pacific Railroad as a pattern, the #1 and #2 locomotives were scaled up from the practical 1/8th live steam model enlarged to full-scale 3 ft (914 mm) narrow gauge Disneyland Railroad trackage, visually similar to the proportion of five-eighths Standard Gauge. The fire tube boilers are fired by spraying and igniting fuel oil (see below) onto a carbon based ceramic fire-brick plate burner. Locomotive No. 1 was given a big spark arresting diamond stack of wood-burning locomotives and a large, pointed pilot (cowcatcher) representing a workhorse used to construct a railroad while the flagship No. 2 was given a straight stack and smaller pilot common to East Coast coal-burning locomotives representing highball speed of express passenger service on smooth straight rails. From safety and signaling to conductors punching passenger tickets with a smile, all aspects of operations were “just like the big ones”.
Two trains operated on opening day. Locomotive #2, serviced only Main Street station; it hauled a passenger train consisting of yellow coaches, #101 – the combine, partial baggage/express and coach seating, coaches #102-105, and the Grand Canyon observation coach #106 with larger arched windows, an observation platform and drumhead at the rear. Locomotive #1 serviced the Frontierland depot, hauling a freight train consisting of cattle cars, gondolas numbered 201–205 and a caboose #208. The two trains could each operate on the railroad simultaneously and independently in the same clockwise direction. Rail sidings at Main Street Station and Frontierland Depot allowed them to pass the one disembarking/embarking passengers.
July 17, 1955, beginning the historic ABC broadcast with Art Linkletter and Ronald Reagan on the platform as Walt throttled down #2 pulling Retlaw-1 into Main Street Station, Art introduced him along with California Governor Goodwin J. Knight and Fred G. Gurley (in his capacity as president of the Santa Fe) and their families riding in the open door of the combine #101 as they began to preside over the opening-day ceremonies.
As the park had grown, and ridership increased, more trains were needed. When more trains were eventually added the operation was changed: the trains no longer passed each other, and a Fantasyland station was built at Storybook Land. When the tracks were realigned to accommodate “it’s a small world” the Fantasyland station was closed and the Tomorrowland station was built. The passing track at Main Street Station has been disconnected and now is only used to display a 3 ft (914 mm) narrow gauge Kalamazoo handcar. The tracks at Frontierland Depot were moved several times and the passing track was removed completely; the original station was moved across the tracks and the New Orleans Square/Frontierland station replaced it. Walt Disney dictated that two trains were to operate at all times, and it is not uncommon for three or four trains to run simultaneously on busy days. Walt’s railroading hobby qualified him with extensive experience operating steam locomotives and guests frequently saw him making rounds of the park acting as engineer in a locomotive cab.
The narration inside the cars at various points around the park once featured voice actor Jack Wagner, and later, Thurl Ravenscroft.[