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  • [Question] Need help with a paper about the history of the Disneyland Railroad

    Hello Everyone,

    I am a graduate student who is writing a paper about the history of the Disneyland Railroad. Some questions I'd like to answer include (but not limited to):

    -Why did Walt want to incorporate a railroad into the park?
    -How did the railroad fit into Walt's overall plan for Disneyland?
    -Are the trains at Disneyland modeled after specific models of trains?

    The paper needs to be at least 20 pages long. I've found a few books from the library, but can you suggest other sources, or places I can look?

    I am a huge Walt Disney/Disneyland fan, and have been lurking on the site for many years. I appreciate in advance your advice!

    ~T.

  • #2
    Re: Need help with a paper about the history of the Disneyland Railroad

    Steve deGaetano is the resident expert on the Disneyland Railroad and has written a number of columns (just click on anything ending in HTML from this index or select any of his columns from the miceage.com front page - located near the bottom).

    As to brief answers, Walt loved trains so that explains the "why". "How" is answered by the fact that every iteration of a park, from the first-planned park in Burbank to the eventual Disneyland in Anaheim included a train.

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    • #3
      Re: Need help with a paper about the history of the Disneyland Railroad

      Steve is definitely a fabulous resource. The book you want to start with is Michael Broggie's Wlat Disney's Railroad Story

      Amazon.com: Walt Disney's Railroad Story: The Small-Scale Fascination That Led to a Full-Scale Kingdom (9781563420092): Michael Broggie: Books
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      • #4
        Re: Need help with a paper about the history of the Disneyland Railroad

        Boy, did you come to the right place! Yes, check out what the two posts above mentioned. Awesome articles!
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        • #5
          Re: Need help with a paper about the history of the Disneyland Railroad

          Completely agree that Steve deGaetano is the resident (and otherwise) expert on the DLRR.

          For the basics though, wikipedia's pretty good. Disneyland Railroad - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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          • #6
            Re: Need help with a paper about the history of the Disneyland Railroad

            Originally posted by Altodette View Post
            Hello Everyone,

            I am a graduate student who is writing a paper about the history of the Disneyland Railroad. Some questions I'd like to answer include (but not limited to):


            -Why did Walt want to incorporate a railroad into the park?
            -How did the railroad fit into Walt's overall plan for Disneyland?
            -Are the trains at Disneyland modeled after specific models of trains?

            The paper needs to be at least 20 pages long. I've found a few books from the library, but can you suggest other sources, or places I can look?

            I am a huge Walt Disney/Disneyland fan, and have been lurking on the site for many years. I appreciate in advance your advice!

            ~T.
            How the heck did I miss this thread??:lol:

            Let's answer your questions in order:

            -Why did Walt want to incorporate a railroad into the park?

            Walt Disney was a life-long railfan. He is quoted several times as saying, "I have always loved trains." As a teen, he rode the rails of the Missouri Pacific Railroad, selling candy and newspapers to commuters. He loved listening to tales from his uncle, Mike Martin, who was an engineer on the Santa Fe.

            Later in life, he was told he needed to get a hobby less-rough than the polo he was playing (he had back problems). Since he liked both trains and miniatures, he naturally decided to get into model railroading. A couple of his animators were involved in live steam (Ward Kimball and Ollie Johnston specifically), and after visiting with them, he chose 1/8 scale live steam, and built a railroad in his back yard. Walt saw first hand how much fun his guests had with the trains in an outdoor setting, and so when he decided to start a new venture in outdoor entertainment, he insisted on having a train encircle the Park.

            -How did the railroad fit into Walt's overall plan for Disneyland?

            I'm not sure how to answer this question. Walt stated that "It should look like nothing else in the world. And it should be surrounded by a train." Indeed, the steam railroad appears to be the one element that survived every iteration of the design from Walt's very first concepts of the Park.

            Since Walt actually meant for Disneyland to have an educational component, he wanted to give riders of his railroad an authentic experience, and to see some elements of real railroading. Passengers were given tickets, and during their journey, they were exposed to some switching moves as the trains circumnavigated the Park (Initiallly, there were only two trains and two stations--one train stopped only at Main Street, the other stopped only at Frontierland. There were passing sidings at each station that allowed the trains to pass each other on their trips).

            So, as far as fitting into the overall plan, you could say that the trains basically were the plan: There probably wouldn't be a Disneyland withouth the railroad.

            -Are the trains at Disneyland modeled after specific models of trains?

            Yes and no. Some of the engines are modeled (or at least based on) real trains; others are fanciful. Let's look at them in order:

            Engine 1, the C.K. Holliday. Ultimately modeled after an engine from the Central Pacific (later Southern Pacific) Railroad. It's kind of circuitous, but the Holliday is modeled after the engine Walt built for his backyard railroad--known as the Lilly Belle--which was in turn modeled after Central Pacific No. 173. The prototype was built in 1872.

            Engine 2, the E.P. Ripley: Modeled after a more modern engine that ran on the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad, an H-3 class engine built by the Rogers Locomotive Works numbered 771, built in 1887.

            Engine 3, the Fred Gurley: The engine is a "real" steam engine, built in 1894 to work a Lousiana sugar plantation. When she was rebuilt by Disney, no specific prototype was followed, but she does keep many of the characteristics of her earlier incarnation.

            Engine 4, the Ernest S. Marsh: Based on the Denver & Rio Grande's first engine, the Montezuma, built in 1871. Many of the details are directly copied, including the stack, domes, headlight and tender.

            Engine 5, the Ward Kimball. This engine is nearly identical to the Fred Gurley in all dimensions (it was a "catalog" engine--except that it was one of the first oil burners ever built), and was also used in the Louisiana sugar trade. Again, no specific prototype was followed, and she retains much of her original features and lines. Her paint job and pinstriping, however, are directly descended from Ward Kimball's own plantation engine, Chloe.

            The cars are not really based on specific prototypes; the caboose does bear a resemblance to Southern Pacific wooden cabooses; the freight cars are loosely based on the cars that ran in Walt's back yard, but are more-or-less "generic." The Lilly Belle parlor car is not based on any specific car, but takes inspiration from typical private cars of the era.

            I've written two books on the history of the Disneyland Railroad (one's sold out), but if you can find them, they can be used as secondary sources.

            Anyway, hope that helps. Feel free to PM me or e-mail me for more info, and good luck with the paper.
            Last edited by Steve DeGaetano; 09-15-2011, 11:46 AM.

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            • #7
              Re: Need help with a paper about the history of the Disneyland Railroad

              Originally posted by Steve DeGaetano View Post
              How the heck did I miss this thread??:lol:
              I know, right? And here I was thinking that if we mention your name three times you'd appear.

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              • #8
                Re: Need help with a paper about the history of the Disneyland Railroad

                Originally posted by nish221 View Post
                For the basics though, wikipedia's pretty good. Disneyland Railroad - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
                I'd be careful with Wikipedia here, especialy for a graduate paper; the article is littered with errors.

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                • #9
                  Re: Need help with a paper about the history of the Disneyland Railroad

                  Oh my goodness - what a wealth of information! I appreciate everyone's quick response. Being a Walt Disney / Disneyland fan myself, I kinda already knew the answers to my questions, but writing the answers for a graduate-level paper would require me to cite my sources. (Boo!)

                  FYI - I've refined my topic to be:

                  The Planning, Creation, and Purpose of the Disneyland Railroad

                  Okay - Churros on me next time you guys are in the park!

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                  • #10
                    Re: Need help with a paper about the history of the Disneyland Railroad

                    Originally posted by Altodette View Post
                    FYI - I've refined my topic to be:

                    The Planning, Creation, and Purpose of the Disneyland Railroad
                    Man, that could be a 20 page paper on each one of those sub-topics!

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                    • #11
                      Re: Need help with a paper about the history of the Disneyland Railroad

                      Originally posted by themur View Post
                      Steve is definitely a fabulous resource. The book you want to start with is Michael Broggie's Wlat Disney's Railroad Story
                      I agree, this book needs to be in every fan's collection. But you don't need to pay the Amazon prices. Carolwood sells an e-PDF version for just $19.95!

                      Walt Disney's Railroad Story - pdf E-Edition - BOOKS AND PUBLICATIONS

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                      • #12
                        Re: Need help with a paper about the history of the Disneyland Railroad

                        There is some information on that in the biography The Animated Man: A Life of Walt Disney. Good overall read, too.

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                        • #13
                          Re: Need help with a paper about the history of the Disneyland Railroad

                          Not that I could really add much other then to say if you are local to Southern California then you may consider 2 stops. Orange Empire Rail Museum has Ward's old engine Cloe on display. LA Live Steamers has Walt's barn (and other info in relation to the Carolwood Pacific). If you can manage a road trip to Central CA then I'd say head to HillCrest up in Reedly CA. They've helped to restore most rolling stock on the West Coast (Disneyland and Knott's included).
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