29 November 2011

Arriving trains

This is one of those rare photographs that I fell in love with as soon as I came across it. What’s so special about this picture, come explore with me and I’ll do the best I can to make you love it too.

For starters, we are in Tampa Ship in 1970, the location where the Nautili submarines for 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea Submarine Voyage were built. As is apparent here, it was also the only company in central Florida with the proper heavy machinery and spacing required to work with full sized locomotives.

The gentleman in the coat and tie is Earl Vilmer. Vilmer had been with Disneyland for a number of years, but had been brought in as Walt Disney World’s Transportation Superintendent, and charged with the construction of the Magic Kingdom’s railway and renovation of the engines for the Walt Disney World Railroad.

Which brings us to the engine itself. Found along the Yucatan Peninsula in Merida, Mexico by Vilmer and Roger Broggie, the locomotive was a Baldwin 2-6-0 “Mogul”-type. Originally built it September of 1928, the engine was in such a state of disrepair when it came to Tampa Ship that workers were provided with color photographs of the Disneyland trains to enthuse them. The engine has come a long way from when it was found, including the 85 pound brass bell that has already been attached, but this rusty, forty-two year old locomotive had a long way to go. Through sweat, blood and tears, the abandoned engine would finally be transformed into the lush green Engine No. 2, otherwise known as the Lilly Belle, named for Walt Disney wife.

It may look different here, still under renovation and without its lantern or final paint job, but this is a moment in time with a legendary railman, in a storied structure, and an engine that has brought joy to innumerable guests. It gives me shivers to see such a gorgeous piece of Magic Kingdom at such a critical juncture in its career!

1 comment:

philphoggs said...

Nice. I always found it interesting that the engines had gone there, but I know very little about the yard itself. I understand now that the Strasburg RR does the heavy work on the engines today.