A Fun Fact About Walt Disney and Trains

Here's a fun fact, I love trains.  I have since I was a little boy.  In fact it is still my dream to one day have a gigantic  fully functioning HO scale railroad table in my basement, complete with replica Matterhorn and a logging operation.  

You know who else loved trains?  Walt Disney.

Walt's fascination with railroads began when he got a job selling candy on the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe railroads.  He got to see the country through the windows of passenger cars and feel in love with the spirit of adventure that accompanied each trip.  

Young Walt Disney.

Young Walt Disney.

It's possible that Walt may have been a "Newsie" as well.

His fascination with trains is apparent when you consider that Disneyland has had at least 5 railroads since it's opening in 1995 which include: The Disneyland Railroad, Mine Train Through Nature's Wonderland, The Monorail, Casey Jr. and Big Thunder Mountain Railroad (admittedly, BTR was built after Walt's passing in 1966).

Terror struck riders of the Mine Train Through Nature's Wonderland when the ride operator fell asleep at the controls (presumedly due to boredom), causing the train to careen out of control at a ludicrous 2.5 miles per hour, until it crashed in a burst of flames.  Or maybe ride designers left one last locomotive from the ride when it was replaced by Big Thunder Mountain.  You decide.

Years before the opening of Disneyland, when the land upon which it would one day rest was nothing but orange trees, Walt began construction on his first railroad.  The Carolwood Pacific Railroad which serviced his entire backyard.  Walt was so adamant about building a railroad in the backyard that when he and his wife, Lillian purchased their home in California he had her sign a legally binding contract which gave Walt explicit permission to build his railroad.

Walt working on a steam engine in his barn workshop.

The steam engine he constructed was modeled after the Central Pacific #173 and was built to 1/8 scale.  The layout looped around the house, featured a trestle that was 46 feet long and an "S" shaped tunnel which passed beneath Lilly's flower beds (she would not let Walt plow through the middle of her precious flower beds).  In all the track was about 797 feet long!  A picture of the layout is below.

The Carolwood Pacific would end up being the foundation upon which Walt would build many of his ideas for attractions at Disneyland.  It makes me hopeful that perhaps one day I may be able to take one of the many things I love and perhaps use it to bring joy to people, just like Walt.

"That's the real trouble with the world, too many people grow up."

-Walt Disney




Source: Walt Disney: An American Original by Bob Thomas