A Different look at Disney...

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Part One of this story is at this link.

Part Two of this story is at this link.

A deal was quickly reached to purchase the veteran locomotive for $2,000. Broggie contacted the Santa Fe Railway to have the engine transported inside one of the railroad's enclosed automobile transport cars to prevent any vandalism. The car was to be hitched to a Baltimore & Ohio train, transferred to a Southern Railway train headed south, and then, in Louisiana, coupled to a Southern Pacific train for the rest of the trip west.

Things didn't go quite as planned. Walt received a telegram a few days later informing him that his locomotive had been lost in transit! Apparently, the car carrying the engine had been routed to the Pennsylvania Railroad, and was lost somewhere near its "birthplace" in Pittsburgh.

Now, Walt was usually a very composed person, but upon hearing the news that his locomotive was lost, he became livid! He wasn't going to wait for the railroads to sort out their problems. He went right to the top: he quickly placed a call to the president of the Santa Fe Railway--who coincidentally happened to be a friend of his--and asked that the matter rectified as soon as possible.


Santa Fe president Ernest S. Marsh was born in Lynchburg, Virginia in 1903. In 1918, he joined the Santa Fe Railway, and by age 39, he had reached the level of chief clerk in the president's office. When president Fred Gurley stepped down in 1958, Marsh took over the position.

When Marsh received Disney's call, he went right to work. He called his counterpart at the Pennsylvania Railroad, and the two got the issue squared away after tracing the car to the Pittsburgh rail yards. Arrangements were made, and the car--and the locomotive--finally arrived in Los Angeles on June 19, 1958.

After unloading the engine, Walt got his first good look at the engine. There were definitely components that could be salvaged. The drive wheels still had some life to them, and the frame and cylinders could certainly be reused. The cab and boiler would need to be discarded in favor of newer ones. So, they had a fairly usable frame and running gear, utilizing four drive wheels. But what should the engine look like?

Ward Kimball, Bob Gurr, Roger Broggie and Jerry Best met to talk about how the engine could be made over. While the Fred Gurley was rebuilt to look very similar to her original design, Kimball thought that they should restore their newest engine to look different than the way she had been delivered from Baldwin--definitely a good idea considering the looks of the original engine.

The Montezuma, shown here at Baldwin in 1871. Note the four-wheel tender,
which Disney copied quite closely.

As was so often the case in those early years of the Disneyland Railroad, Kimball's extensive library was essential in making the determination. He produced a photograph of the very first locomotive built for the Denver & Rio Grand Railway in Colorado in 1871, named the Montezuma. That engine was a 2-4-0, meaning that in addition to her four drive wheels, she also had a two-wheel "pony truck" that would help guide the engine into curves. She pulled a four-wheeled tender, and had a large diamond smokestack and box headlight. Interestingly, the engine was a narrow gauge one as well, and both the Ernest S. Marsh and the Montezuma could be operated on the same track. The locomotive definitely had an "old west" look about her that Walt would no doubt have found appealing.

The Montezuma in Colorado in the 1870s. Also note how Disney closely copied the domes,
stack design, and oval cab molding where the engine name is painted.

When Walt heard the proposal and saw the photograph of the Montezuma, he was sold. Having saved money already by purchasing a used locomotive, Walt instructed his team to "spend whatever it takes to do it first class."

Over the course of several months, the engine was pulled completely apart. Each component was inspected to see if it could be re-used, or if new parts needed to be fabricated. Dixon Boiler Works in Los Angeles was contracted to build the new boiler. They had previously built the boilers for the Mark Twain and the three other Disneyland engines, and could be counted on to do a good job. Fleming Metal Fabricators, located in Commerce, CA (they're still there) built a new tender with a fuel capacity of 180 gallons of diesel oil and 425 gallons of water, copying the Montezuma's four-wheel design. A new two-wheel pilot truck was made, a new cab was built of ash, and fancy new domes were made.

The locomotive, recently purchased, now on Disney property awaiting her rebuild.

Studio shop employee Arnold Lindberg oversaw the rebuilding. The frame, cylinders and wheels were all in good condition, needing only cleaning and painting. The original bell and Powell whistle were also re-used. In order to maintain the look of an old-fashioned, pre-air-brake era steam locomotive, the air compressor was concealed in the engine's cab, on the floor near the fireman's seat as had been done on the Fred Gurley previously.

Roger Broggie feared that the builder's plates--which were (and are) collectible to railfans--might be too tempting, and so he had a plastic pattern made from which brass copies were cast. He kept one original plate for himself and gave the other one to Jerry Best. Best recalled years later that the patterns are kept in a drawer at Imagineering's Glendale facility.

Here is a shot of the engine's weathered builder's plate, bearing testament to the locomotive's 1925 build date (Keep an eye on the MiceChat "Collectibles" forums for an announcement later this year about how you might be able to purchase an exact reproduction of this builder's plate). Photo courtesy Matt Walker.

Sharing a feature of the first three Disneyland engines, a brass eagle was cast for the engine. The first three engines have the eagle perched on the sand dome lids. However, the eagle as used on the Marsh was placed as a finial on the locomotive's bell.

A close-up of the Marsh's bell by Matt Walker shows the eagle
to good advantage. We can also see remnants of the bell's original
air-ringer apparatus on the bell's pivot.

(The bell, incidentally, was initially operated by air. Instead of the fireman ringing the bell with an attached rope, the fireman would push a lever that caused air to activate a piston and linkage attached to the bell, which made the bell ring in a regular, rhythmic fashion. The air ringer was eventually removed).

The engine ready for painting.

In March 1959, the engine was nearly complete, needing only to be painted. "When it was done," Best recalled, "it was in better condition than when it was [new] at Baldwin." Heeding Walt's orders to spend whatever was necessary, the final price tag for the engine was $57,070.

These two drawings show just how extensive the Disney rebuild was.

NEXT: The conclusion of this story

Steve DeGaetano is author of Welcome Aboard the Disneyland Railroad! Steve's latest book, the history of Disneyland's newest locomotive, the Ward Kimball, is now available. You can read more about From Plantation to Theme Park, the Story of Disneyland Railroad Locomotive No. 5, the Ward Kimball, and place an order for it, by using this link.

Steve DeGaetano may be e-mailed at [email protected] - Please keep in mind he may not be able to respond to each note personally.

2009 Steve DeGaetano

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