Here's another "detail," or example of "plussing" that you might want to keep an eye out the next time you're at the park.
Virtually all steam locomotives built in the 19th and 20th centuries had "builder's plates" affixed to them. These plates were essentially the locomotive's "birth certificate," and indicated the date of construction, a serial number, and the location where the engine was built. Often, the president or manager of the locomotive builder would be indicated as well.
Many of you know that DRR engines 3 and 4 (and now 5), feature the round builder's plates of the Baldwin Locomotive Works on the gray smokeboxes (the part where the smokestack is).
For an unknown reason, DRR engines 1 and 2 did not have builder's plates--a common detail that by all rights should have been included.
Carolwood Pacific Board member Michael Campbell noticed this missing detail, and with Michale Broggie, work got under way last year to meet with Matt Ouimet and Marty Sklar to see if the situation could be rectified, maybe in time for the 50th. In addition, this might be an opportunity to recognize a few of the people who were involved with the construction of the Disneyland trains. Everyone thought it would be a nice addition to the engines, and the "go" was given.
The first task was to try and figure out what the name of the fictional "Locomotive Works" that built the Disney engines should be. "Retlaw Locomotive Works" was thrown around, in homage to the company that ran the trains for many years, but Retlaw hadn't been formed yet in 1954/55, when the engines were built. Through much discussion, it was determined that WED, the design and construction arm of Disney, built the engines. So it was logical to assume that it was the "WED Locomotive Works" that built Disneyland's first two steam engines.
The next bit of research included trying to find out if the engines truly had serial numbers. There are several numbers associated with the engines, including the original Dixon boiler numbers of 12544 (Holliday) and 12555 (Ripley), but these represented only the boilers, and not the complete engines.
I had seen the numbers "642" and "641" on the boiler backheads, but these turned out to be National Boiler certification numbers, also not suitable for the entire engines.
The number on builder's plates represents the serial number, or actual number count, of engines built. It was therefore decided that engine No. 1 would have serial number 1 on its builder's plate, and the Ripley would logically have the number "2" on its builder's plate, even though it looks like the engines' numbers were merely copied. But if the WED Locomotive Works had built two engines, and these were its first two engines, it seems logical that they would have the serial numbers 1 and 2.
Since the C.K. Holliday and the E.P. Ripley are meant to represent two different eras (and manufaturers), the thought was to have two different plate designs. Michael got to work designing the plates.
The C.K. Holliday represents a typical Central Pacific engine of the 1870s. Based on Walt's "CP-173" which itself was based on a Central Pacific engine built by Norris Bros. Most likely, the prototype engine had its builder's plate mounted on an ornate fixture hung between the two big drive wheels. This wouldn't work on the Disneyland engine, because the engine's brake system is between the drivers, and access for maintenance would be needed.
Since many engines of the Cental Pacific's successor, the Southern Pacific, were built by Baldwin, a round design was chosen. This plate, to my knowledge, hasn't been affixed yet to the C.K. Holliday.
The E.P. Ripley is based on an engine from the 1880s built by the Rogers Locomotive Works for the Baltimore & Ohio railroad. The Rogers plates of the era were usually rectangular, often with decorative "notched" corners. Unfortunately, the Rogers plates were often devoid of much textual information, just featuring the word "ROGERS" and a small date and serial number.
I had seen a plate from the Schenectady Locomotive Works at a friend's house, which I suggested be used. This plate looked a lot like a Rogers plate, with a bit more information, like the name of the works president, and the general manager. Through discussion, it was decided that, obviously, "W.E. Disney" would be the fictional locomotive works president, and that R.E. Broggie, head of the studio machine shop and directly responsible for the construction of the engines, would be the "Gen. Manager."
So, while these plates represent a fictional locomotive works, the designs are based on actual historical builder's plates. I've suggested that a good word to describe them is "historically suggestive;" they are not based on any specific actual builer's plates, but take their cues from several historical sources.
We hope you enjoy this little bit of added detail that brings just a bit more to these already beautiful locomotives.
The photo below is by Matt Walker.