Railway Preservation News

Are Park Trains "Real" Trains?
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Author:  Jennie K [ Sat Aug 06, 2016 3:11 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Are Park Trains "Real" Trains?

Unless you are talking about a Chance CP Huntington (which is 24" gauge)............

Author:  Rick Rowlands [ Sat Aug 06, 2016 7:32 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Are Park Trains "Real" Trains?

There are no hard and fast rules. At around 24" things start shifting from "park" to "real".

Author:  JR May [ Sat Aug 06, 2016 7:59 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Are Park Trains "Real" Trains?

This is another subject near and dear to my heart.

> At around 24" things start shifting from "park" to "real".

In my mind, you really need to look at the application. I’d dare you to call the 15" gauge Romney, Hythe & Dymchurch Railway not "real!"

It would be easy to call the MTC G-16 (16" gauge), CPH sets (24"), or National Amusement sets (24") "park trains" and right them off as toys. But, they each have two things in common with what I would call "real" trains:

1) They can make you a ton of money and carry boat loads of passengers and run on a schedule.
2) They can hurt you very badly or even kill you as we saw a few years ago on a MTC set where a young passenger was killed in a roll over of the train. There's a set for sale today which was involved in a bad roll over as well with multiple injuries.

If you look at a busy "park train" set up as anything other than a railroad, you are in for trouble. Someone will be hurt. Large or small, if carrying passengers on some regular schedule its a railroad.

On the other side the coin, would you consider the 3' gauge equipment at Disney, or other equipment captured in a theme park, park equipment or real railroad equipment? Again, thinking of it as anything other than a real railroad will get people hurt.

And what of the many 18" gauge Porters that had been used in the mining industry. Not "real?"

I tend to have first hand experience here. Yes, it sounds crazy to think of a 16" gauge "park train" as a real railroad, but if it has the ability to cause injury or death, then to me it has to be treated as real. If it runs in a simple circle in a park and is 36" gauge, I would again call it a real railroad.

I really don't see the need for a definition at all. Its railroad equipment, period. Some is built for park use, some is built for industrial use and used in a park, some is built for park use and used in an industrial application, etc, etc, etc.

So, I see no need for a definition. Its rail equipment. Its built for some original specific application. But if used to make a buck, runs on a schedule, carries passengers, then its real. Its just that some are bigger than others. In short, all sizes will kill you. That makes it real.

J.R. May

Author:  JR May [ Sat Aug 06, 2016 8:18 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Are Park Trains "Real" Trains?

And if looking at the steam locomotive aspect, again, I come back to the Romney, Hythe & Dymchurch Railway steam locomotive roster. Is it a “real” locomotive? Its performing an as designed function and again, people have been hurt, or even killed, running these things. Look at the your typical Cagney 15” gauge steam locomotive. Again, essentially designed from the ground up for a specific purpose (used often as a true transportation system) and in reality not really based on a prototype. The Centerville and Southwestern 1501 – real or park sized? At 9-71/6” gauge it was built to meet a specific need and in this case was built with support of Alco and Porter. When you study the design and how it was built, you would tend to look at the 1501 as just a small full sized locomotive.

Yes, you have your steam outline sets, the CPH comes to mind, and while a fake steamer, the look is appreciated by the younger set. And, again, one can be hurt running them. They are due the respect of their full sized brethren.

So, again, I would not label these things broadly. In the case of the 1501, it deserves better than to be called anything other than real, its just small. Cagney's were built to make money, and in truth, are not the best looking locomotive ever built. Again, just not huge that's all.

And one additional point on the steam side of this. I am paying Strasburg some decent money to build a brand new boiler for a Cagney sized engine (a 1907 Herschell-Spillman 4-4-0). It ain't cheap, it must meet code, be inspected each year, and be operated by someone with a boiler license. To me, in many ways, this makes it very real. Just small.

J.R. May

Author:  hamster [ Sat Aug 06, 2016 11:50 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Are Park Trains "Real" Trains?

For the record, the railroad at the Milwaukee zoo is operated as a real railroad. I know for certain that Ken Ristow, who is a serious professional operating the Soo 1003 and the NKP 765, maintains his two steam locomotives according to CFR49 Part 230, even though his governing body is the Wisconsin Boiler Code. He brings serious railroading chops to his operation. They are, indeed, REAL trains.

Author:  Dougvv [ Sun Aug 07, 2016 3:42 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Are Park Trains "Real" Trains?


15" gauge Romney, Hythe & Dymchurch Railway

I have a downloaded photo I can not find at the moment showing the 15" gauge RH&D with an armored train for WWII. It included an ainti-aircraft gun. <<<https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Romney,_Hythe_and_Dymchurch_Railway#Armoured_train>>> about half way down the page.

The story I heard was that a German plane was shot down by the gun - whether or not it was forced to land or actually distroied I am not sure. For me, that 15" gauge train is a real train.

I think it still hauls passengers and freight. Also a definition of a "Real" railroad.

In my opinion, "Real" trains are ones that operate and earn their keep (like CSX, Durango & Silverton, RH&D). However this is not the only definition. I would find it hard to believe that railroads like Amtrak, Bart, Metro, Marta, that are transit/passenger only systems that do not cover costs are not real railroads also.

I come back to the mathematical definition:

2 x 3 + 2 x 3 = 12 as well as 2 x (3 + 3) = 12, and 3 x (2 + 2) = 12.

There is not one single definition that fits all cases. There are many ways to the same answer of "Real".

In some cases, the ability to cause injury to a human is correct. Point in case is a G15 park train in the Carolinas several years ago that killed a passenger in a wreck that was probably due to poor maintenance.

Injury is not a good definition for the Roswell Railroad (short line) here in Georgia where
it operated (36" gauge from 1881-1905 and SG from 1905-1920) without a single death or injury in any of the records I could find (including PSC reports).

Profit is not a good definition by itself. The Gainesville and North Western RR operated from 1905 to 1930 hauling timber from the north Georgia mountains (Mining minerals for weapons also) and only showed a profit for only one year looking at the PSC reports. It filled the transportation objective the co-owning lumber mill in Helen GA needed. As a part of a whole from timber stands to finished lumber being transported to the national rail network, it was a successful real railroad.

It is sad but very human to look for simple answers to what are sometimes complex questions.


Doug vV

Author:  Steve DeGaetano [ Mon Aug 08, 2016 9:16 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Are Park Trains "Real" Trains?

Back when it was built, the Santa Fe & Disneyland Railroad was considered a "real railroad."

A retired SP draftsman drew the locomotive blueprints. The locomotives were operated by actual retired locomotive engineers. Railroad track engineers laid down the right-of-way. The man in charge of the steam trains, Earl Vilmer, had been a roundhouse foreman on the Kansas City Southern, and had spent WWII building a railroad from the Persian Gulf to supply the Eastern Front. In other words, from the very beginning, the Disney trains, through small, were absolutely seen as being part of a "real railroad"--built, operated and supervised by railroad men.

As an example, below is Earl Vilmer's first "SOP" for the railroad:

July 28, 1955
TO: All Engineers—Trains
FROM: Earl Vilmer, Supervisor—Trains

By way of emphasizing the responsibilities placed upon engine men, the following rules and requirements are again brought to the attention of all concerned:

1. Before leaving roundhouse, see that engine is equipped with necessary supplies for full-shift operation, including tools for minor repairs.

2. Make brake test of entire train.

3. See that brake hoses and pin lifts are keyed between tender and all cars.

4. Before entering main line, fill boiler to half gauge glass and blow-down boiler to one-quarter gauge glass. Check water glass reading with gauge cocks.

5. After entering main line track, see that shop switch is lined for main line operation.

6. Upon arrival at stations each trip, engineer will lubricate all moving parts and inspect locomotive and tender. He will notify the Supervisor—Trains of any defect which he is unable to repair, and is hereby instructed that continued operation is not permissible until such repairs are made.

7. Engineers, while on duty, are entirely responsible for keeping engine clean, lubricated, and in suitable condition.

8. Signal to proceed from conductors signify only that train is loaded and ready. Movement to main line is engineer’s responsibility.

9. Speed is restricted to 12 miles per hour on all tracks.

10. Backward movement over all switches is prohibited until proper lining is determined.

11. Damage to equipment is reason for immediate dismissal.

12. Passenger train will proceed with caution first trip each day with regard to trackmen and track conditions.

13. Speed of both trains will be reduced when entering siding switch to the extent train will pull into proper station position rather than roll in and brake to same. Full braking pressure is unnecessary if station is approached properly.

14. When freight train is on duty, passenger train will not enter main line until freight train has passed and allowed sufficient time to arrive at station. He will then proceed with caution, prepared to stop if switch to freight siding is not properly lined.

15. Freight train will not enter main line until passenger train has passed freight siding.

16. Engineers of both trains will exercise proper judgment and always be prepared to stop where close clearance is involved, particularly concerning traffic condition on service roads.

17. The whistle will be sounded to give grade crossing traffic ample warning.

18. No one will operate the locomotives other than the assigned engineers.

19. Engineers are entirely responsible that proper water level be carried in boiler at all times. Also that locomotive be fired with a clear stack in compliance with Orange County Air Pollution Control District rulings.

20. Engine men will be attired in the prescribed uniform while on duty.

21. Engineers will approach all loading switches under control and watch each car until possible point of derailment is passed.

22. Boiler gauge cocks and water glasses will be blown out frequently while on duty and before placing engine in roundhouse.

Cooperation and compliance is demanded concerning the foregoing requirements and any infraction thereof will be handled immediately.

Earl Vilmer Supervisor – Trains

Author:  Alexander D. Mitchell IV [ Mon Aug 08, 2016 11:09 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Are Park Trains "Real" Trains?

The whole blather about "whether park trains are real" is getting (and long has been) rather preposterous.

It's not about how big it is, or whether it can "hurt" you or not. I've heard of people badly hurt by live-steam models. This chopstick sitting on my desk (left over from takeout sushi) can kill someone if I apply it right. There are model railroads run with operating systems just like "real" railroads.

The distinction has LONG been "does this railroad serve a primary transport function, or was it built to entertain?"

The Romney, Hythe & Dymchurch in England and the Welsh narrow gauges were built as transport. (Rather stupid or strained-in-credulity transport in the case of the former, but real transport.) So was the 22-inch-gauge Guinness Brewery tramway railway.

The Wabash, Frisco & Pacific, the McCormick-Stillman Railroad Park line, and as far as I can tell every last Crown Metal steamer, Chance Train, etc. were all built to entertain people with train rides. It doesn't matter how many authentic prototypes signals you erect, etc.

The "gray area" of them all, of course, is Disney's railroads--built with historic locomotives and new rolling stock, ostensibly to transport people around the park but also entertainment all its own. Ditto Cedar Point & Lake Erie.

And, yes, I'm well aware that such a definition would also sweep in most of the excursion/steam railroads in the United States, but we can allow an exception for using equipment that was originally for transport and preserving the experience and rail line, as opposed to building them strictly for entertainment (that would be Edaville, Boothbay, and a couple others).

Author:  JimBoylan [ Mon Aug 08, 2016 12:47 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Are Park Trains "Real" Trains?

Wasn't Edaville allegedly (and possibly for tax reasons) also built to haul cranberries? It used previously owned common carrier equipment.

Author:  JR May [ Mon Aug 08, 2016 1:38 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Are Park Trains "Real" Trains?

Not real sure that definition works either, ADM. The Jenkinsons Beach Train, as an example, was a 24” gauge National Amusement set that ferried people from the Manasquan Inlet to the amusement area for roughly 50 years. Not sure how long the ride was, perhaps a half mile. It was an alternative to walking and provided access to additional parking. One could say that it was indeed built to "serve a primary transport function.” If rebuilt by its current owner, it will be used for the same purpose. The House of David had an extensive 15" gauge transportation system based on engines similar to Cagneys, later replaced by much larger engines. And any number of Cagney's were originally purchased to provide a transportation service. Granted, Cagneys and Nationals were marketed for entertainment value, but were used in other applications as seen above. Again, a broad stroke does not work.

I stand by my rough definition that if its intended to take in a buck, hauls passengers on some schedule, then it should be taken seriously otherwise someone could get hurt. Perhaps I take a different view of things having seen first hand when things turn sour at the 3' gauge level.

Come to think of it, the Strasburg Cagney is an interesting example. Its there to make a buck and runs on some schedule. The standard gauge run is really for entertainment value as is the Cagney they use. Neither serve as a primary transportation function. Thus the Strasburg passenger operation really does not fit well under your definition.

Taking this a step further, here in NJ we have something called the Carnival Act which inspects amusement rides. 7-1/x" gauge equipment used in the public has fallen under this and must be inspected. My 15" gauge Herschell will fall under this if I use it for public hauling. The 3' gauge Pine Creek RR originally did fall under this law, but they had the law changed to exclude Pine Creek and put inspection under the NJ Department of Transportation. So, as far as the state of NJ, it would seem Pine Creek and its 3/4 mile loop is a real RR.

Again, there is no way to have a simple definition. Its up to the people, local ordinance, state law, federal law, etc.


Author:  Dennis Storzek [ Mon Aug 08, 2016 3:49 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Are Park Trains "Real" Trains?

Wow, let me throw my hat in the ring... I take the position that, with few exceptions, if it wasn't a common carrier, it wasn't a railroad. Yeah, I know that excludes a bunch of industrial lines, but so be it, those were an adjunct to the industry they served, not railroads per se.

Why do I take this position? Because railroads are more than just the equipment, they are also the workers, their work rules and culture, and their interaction with the greater public. Industrial lines, mine railways, transit systems, street railways, and amusement park railways all differed in these aspects, and deserve their own classification.

Yes, it is worthy to save equipment from all these other categories... just don't lump it with railroads.

Author:  Steve DeGaetano [ Mon Aug 08, 2016 4:18 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Are Park Trains "Real" Trains?

JR May wrote:
Again, there is no way to have a simple definition. Its up to the people, local ordinance, state law, federal law, etc.

I think the original poster wasn't looking so much for a definition, but was questioning why folks in the steam preservation fraternity sort of "look down their noses" at amusement park trains.

There often does seem to be a bit of snobbish boorishness displayed by some, as if amusement park trains don't deserve recognition as functioning railroads, and instead should be classified more with merry-go-rounds and rollercoasters, operated by pimply-faced teenage "ride operators," and not skilled engine crews.

Author:  J3a-614 [ Mon Aug 08, 2016 9:07 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Are Park Trains "Real" Trains?

Steve DeGaetano wrote:
JR May wrote:
Again, there is no way to have a simple definition. Its up to the people, local ordinance, state law, federal law, etc.

I think the original poster wasn't looking so much for a definition, but was questioning why folks in the steam preservation fraternity sort of "look down their noses" at amusement park trains.

There often does seem to be a bit of snobbish boorishness displayed by some, as if amusement park trains don't deserve recognition as functioning railroads, and instead should be classified more with merry-go-rounds and rollercoasters, operated by pimply-faced teenage "ride operators," and not skilled engine crews.

Alas, too many park trains (and other rides) are "operated by pimply-faced teenage 'ride operators,' and not skilled engine crews." I believe this has been a factor in at least a couple of amusement train incidents over the years. This includes at least one incident in which the train (Chance, in Kentucky or Tennessee? Who remembers this?) ran away on a downgrade and rolled over, with a lot of injuries but fortunately no fatalities. Part of the problem was the operators were not given good instruction on handling the train, one the things being told to "pump" the brakes. That's fine in a car, but not so good with air!

Seems like the lack of respect may be from the park management. . .

Author:  Stationary Engineer [ Mon Aug 08, 2016 9:31 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Are Park Trains "Real" Trains?

In 1963, we used my dad's UP pass to get half price fares on the Disneyland and Santa Fe.


Author:  JayZee [ Mon Aug 08, 2016 10:02 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Are Park Trains "Real" Trains?

If park trains aren't real because they are used for entertainment what about the York, Tornado, 5550, and Lyn among others? Their main focus is entertainment/history. People can argue the same for newer park engines. Showing some history while providing entertainment. I would have to say if it can run under its own power, and retains a majority of components found on larger engines (air brakes, etc) then it don't matter the size its a real train. Where it is operated is secondary to WHAT it is. You can take a big boy and paint it purple and putt it around in a circle (big circle) hauling home made passenger cars. You could also take many of these theme park engines like a crown and paint it respectably and put it on a real tourist railroad of the same gauge hauling passengers. Does that mean its still not a "real" train even when other small steamers built 100 years ago the same gauge are?

Just some food for thought.

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