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Disneyland Article
Railroad Engineers Ecstatic About New Route As Classic Ride Readies To Reopen

Big Thunder Mountain Railroad
Orange County Register
Mark Eades
July 27, 2017
August 05, 2017
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"All Aboard" will be heard again when the Disneyland Railroad opens Saturday, July 29, 2017 after a being shuttered for more than a year.

Construction of Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge meant the railroad would be closed while a new route was built around Frontierland for the classic opening day attraction. During that time, the rail line's engineers were busy keeping the steam-powered locomotives ready to run.

"We'd be doing boiler washes on the boilers to keep them really clean, so they could be operational any time," said Craig Ludwick, an operating engineer for the Disneyland Railroad.

During the closure, two of the engines, with cars connected behind them, were kept on display; one set at the Main Street Station, and the other at the New Orleans Square/Frontierland Station.

"By moving equipment back and forth between the roundhouse and the two stations, we kept the locomotives in great shape," he said.

Ludwick added that boilers on steam engines cannot just sit around all the time, that they function better when fired up regularly - it also keeps them from building up chemicals on the insides of the boilers.

As testing on the new route started in June, he and other engineers got to see the new scenery installed by Disney Imagineers.

"It's spectacular, the rock work is tremendous," he said.

Robert Rodriguez, one of the railroad's steam locomotive engineers, agrees with that assessment.

"I was ecstatic about the improvements," he said.

Along the new route, the train will cross over several trestles, and pass by some new waterfalls. The route is also closer to the Rivers of America.

"Now you can wave to people on the Mark Twain," he said.

The new route involves a left turn near Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, something new for the two-person crews to navigate.

"The fireman and engineer work as a team in the cab. So the fireman will be keeping an eye out on that blind curve at the track ahead," Rodriguez said.

Besides running the new route, the engineers are ready to go again, bringing joy to steam-powered railroad fans.

"Steam locomotives are an interesting piece of machinery. You can see everything that is happening right on the outside. You can see the wheels turning. You can hear the sound of the steam whistle. You can hear the bell. All that provides excitement," he said.
Attractions Referenced

Big Thunder Mountain Railroad

Disneyland Railroad

Mark Twain Riverboat

Lands Referenced


Main Street U.S.A.

New Orleans Square

Star Wars Galaxys Edge

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