In 2004, my book, Welcome Aboard the Disneyland Railroad!, debuted. The book attempted to look, with a somewhat technical eye, at the history and operations of the Disneyland steam trains.
At the time of the writing of that book, a collection of locomotive parts—a bell, headlight, fittings—were strewn about the Disney roundhouse. The assorted parts belonged to Disneyland’s newest steam locomotive, a little Baldwin locomotive built in 1902, and the fate of the parts—and the engine—had yet to be decided. Some in management wanted to see the remnants of the locomotive cataloged and sent to Disney’s long-term storage facility in Glendale, perhaps never to be seen again.
Thankfully, cooler heads prevailed. With Disneyland’s 50th anniversary approaching, plans were afoot to re-assemble the parts into a working locomotive, and a search for contractors who could handle the job was underway.
Much about the locomotive was shrouded in mystery—including the origins of the engine’s original name—Maud L.—thought to have been the name of the mistress of one of the engine’s original owners. But one thing was certain from the beginning. The rebuilt locomotive would bear the name of one of Walt Disney’s preeminent animators, a close personal friend of Walt’s and someone whose influence on the Disney company can be felt and seen to this very day: Ward Kimball.
In my newest book,
From Plantation to Theme Park: the Story of Disneyland Railroad Locomotive No.5, the Ward Kimball,
I’ve in effect written the “biography” of this real “Little Engine that could.” I was privileged to be able to chronicle the rebuilding of the engine at Boschan Boiler & Restoration, Inc., In Carson, CA. Many of my updates on the engine’s progress appeared here and elsewhere on the Internet. Through this close association with the locomotive, I’ve been able to write the definitive story of Disneyland’s newest steam engine.
But the engine’s history didn’t begin with Disney’s acquisition of it. Through photos, archival documents, and drawings of the locomotive by Preston Nirattisai, the book looks at the engine from the year it was built through Disneyland’s 50th anniversary, when the engine began service at the Park. Chapters on Ward Kimball the man, and on Disneyland’s first four steam engines give context to the story of Engine No. 5.
Many people were involved in creating this book, from Sam Towler providing the cover image to photos, technical details and anecdotes supplied by the men who restored the engine. Ward Kimball’s son, John Kimball, officially dedicated the locomotive earlier this year, and he has graciously written the foreword.
You can read more about the book at DLRcad.com The book is hard cover, 112 pages long, and is being sold on a pre-order basis for only $29.95 + $4.95 postage and handling. There will only be 2,000 copies printed world-wide. The book will be available Spring 2007.
Over two years in the making, this book is for all Disneyland fans as well as train fans, and is the most comprehensive and detailed book available on a single Disneyland steam locomotive. It’s not only the story of a locomotive, it’s the story of the talented and hard-working individuals who brought the little steamer back from the brink of extinction. I’m sure you will enjoy the tale of how the first new Disneyland locomotive in over 40 years came to be—the story of Disneyland Railroad Locomotive No. 5, the Ward Kimball.