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"And so we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past."

--F. Scott Fitzgerald, April 1925

It's a fine spring Day in Anaheim--so fine, in fact, that the lines at the entrance gates of Disneyland are simply massive. As you wait to pass through them, you spend your time watching the trains of the Disneyland Railroad make their calls at Main Street Station. You watch the green and bluish E.P. Ripley, fresh back from a monthly rehab. You recall that one of Disneyland's other engines is also painted overall green with a bluish boiler--the Fred Gurley, which is currently in the roundhouse today. Then the C.K. Holliday comes into view, looking just gorgeous in her midnight-blue boiler, and red cab and tender. The contrast in colors is stunning. A few minutes later, you spot the Ward Kimball, with a similar color scheme as the Holliday's, though nonetheless spectacular.

It's always captivating to see the steam trains pull into Main Street Station
at the beginning of a Day at Disneyland. Photo courtesy Matt Walker.


You are just about to pass through the gates when you hear a slightly deeper-toned whistle hoot in the distance off to your right, hidden by lush trees and plantings. As the CM swipes your ticket, you rush through the turnstile and wait as the hissing grows louder and louder. Your anticipation is building to the breaking point when, all of a sudden, looking like a crimson sunset in motion, she appears, bell clanging its rhythmic peals: The stately Ernest S. Marsh, engine Number 4 on the Disneyland line, drifts by, her ruby-red boiler and cab glinting in the morning sunshine. She's a magnificent beast, you say, and her red paint job looks nothing like any other engine at the Park. And then, as is often the case, your curiosity is piqued.

The Ernest S. Marsh steaming into Main Street Station. The engine wore the
white paint on the smokebox front from the 1970s through February 7, 2002,
when it was painted back to its original gray.

Our story begins during a fascinating time in American history. The mid-1920s were a time of great changes in society. John Scopes was found guilty of teaching evolution in Tennessee, while at the same time, the world of physics saw the introduction of quantum mechanics. A new dance was sweeping the nation--the Charleston--and the book that would come to symbolize the Flapper era was published in 1925--F. Scott Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby. Chrysler Motor Corp.--ironically on the brink of extinction as I write this--was founded. You couldn't legally buy a drink, but that didn't matter; you didn't need one--The Great Depression was still four years off.

The Baldwin Locomotive Works as it appeared when the engine that
would become the Ernest S. Marsh was constructed.

In Philadelphia, the massive Baldwin Locomotive Works continued to churn out locomotives by the thousands. Steam was still king in the railroad business, although, coincidentally, in 1925 something quite new appeared on the locomotive scene--a Baldwin competitor, the American Locomotive Company, produced what looked like a square box on wheels, with a grumbling internal-combustion engine that burned diesel fuel, and was modestly called an "oil electric" locomotive. The new-fangled engine had been sold to the Central Railroad of New Jersey--the very first commercial diesel locomotive built in America.

Jersey Central No. 1000, the first commercial diesel locomotive ever built and which heralded the beginning of the end of the steam locomotive, was constructed the same year as the Ernest S. Marsh.

Coincidentally, also in the state of New Jersey, a sand-producing quarry near the town of Nixon, New Jersey called the Raritan River Sand Company was banking that steam locomotives would be around for a while, and they turned to Baldwin when they ordered their next engine for their industrial line, which used steam engines to haul strings of sand cars from the nearby Raritan River to a receiving plant nearby.

(In another case of incorrect information becoming accepted Disney dogma merely through repetition, Disney even today continues to repeat the story that the engine originally was built for a "New England lumber mill." Perhaps lumber mills are more romantic than sand pits, but either way, where this story began is anybody's guess).

Buying a locomotive from Baldwin was often a relatively simple process. Baldwin produced a yearly catalog showcasing their product line. The catalog featured representative photos of their engines, along with charts showing all the major specifications. If you didn't see something that Baldwin already produced in their standard line, you could have something custom built, but more often than not, railroads purchased standard locomotive configurations.

A common way of ordering locomotives before the advent of cheaper long distance telephone charges was to send a telegram. The telegraph companies, such as Western Union and others, charged by the letter, so Baldwin assigned a single code word for every engine in their catalog in order to save their customers money when ordering cataloged engines. The engine that the Raritan River Sand Company ordered bore the code name "Mastigacao."

Budding Imagineer Sam Towler, better known to MiceChatters as "Nautilus," created this
rendering of how the Ernest S. Marsh looked when originally built by Baldwin in 1925 for the
Raritan River Sand Company. The drawing relies on the original specification sheet for
the engine, as well as typical Baldwin practices of the era.

The engine represented by that code word was a small four-wheeled engine that didn't have a separate tender for carrying water or fuel. Instead, the engine carried her water supply in a tank that wrapped around the boiler much like a saddle, earning the type the nickname "saddletanker." She was painted a dull olive green color popular at the time, with a minimum of decorative silver pin striping. She didn't have a graceful pointy "cowcatcher" in front, but a simple wooden beam with footboards. An ugly duckling if there ever was one.

The 28" diameter wheels of the engine spanned rails that were spaced three feet apart, which we know as "narrow gauge." Many industrial and mining rail lines were built narrower than the larger "Standard Gauge" railroads like the modern Union Pacific or Amtrak trains in order to save money and space.

The pistons that drove the engine were nine inches in diameter and moved back and forth in a cylinder a total of 14 inches. Coal, 500 pounds of which could be carried in a bin next to the fireman inside the engine cab, was used to fire the boiler, which generated 150 pounds of steam pressure and resulted in a tractive effort--a number symbolizing power available to pull a train--of 5,160 pounds. The engine tipped the scales at 12 tons; the weight of the 300 gallons of water in the saddle tank draped over the boiler contributed to the power that allowed her to pull 530 tons of freight on level track. On her saddle tank, the engine bore the typical Baldwin builder's plate of the era. The serial number on this brass "birth certificate" was 58367.

She was completed in April 1925--the very same month The Great Gatsby made its debut.

Part Two of this story is at this link...

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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