Part One of this story is at this
Budding Imagineer Sam Towler, better known to MiceChatters as "Nautilus,"
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
the engine, as well as typical Baldwin practices of the era.
Baldwin had built 430 engines to these exact specifications before the
Raritan River Sand Company ordered their engine, but the number the Raritan
River assigned to the little saddle tanker was 10. By all accounts, No. 10 was a
fine performer on the little railroad, but she did suffer the occasional mishap.
She lost her nicely decorated ash wood cab in an engine house fire, and a
Spartan steel cab was made by the Sand Company as a replacement.
Things changed as the decades rolled by. That little burbling "oil electric"
locomotive first built in 1925 had made considerable inroads in railroading in
the 25 years since then. By 1950 mainline railroads all over the country were
dieselizing as fast as they could write the checks to purchase the new engines,
and the venerable steam locomotives they replaced were sent unceremoniously to
wait out the remainder of their lives in long lines, destined for a final
encounter with the scrapper’s torch. In that year, the Raritan River Sand
Company thought a diesel engine might suit them better as well. But engine No.
10 had endeared herself to a few of the employees of the Raritan River Sand
Company, and they got together with a few friends and purchased her from the
The former Raritan River saddletanker as it looked as Pine Creek No.
The way the saddle tank drapes over the boiler is made plain here.
These men--Jay Wulfson, Jim Wright and Pete Rasmussen formed the Pine Creek
Railroad Museum in 1951, off Route 9, four miles from Freehold New Jersey. A
railroad was built using rail from abandoned sand pits. They re-numbered their
little Baldwin "1," and for many years, the engine was their sole piece of
motive power. Theodore Gleichmann, writing in the New Jersey Museum of
Transportation newsletter in 1967, stated that engine No. 1 "was the first
working steam train to be placed on permanent exhibition in New Jersey, and one
of the earliest in the United States."
In 1953, perhaps due to rust issues, the saddle tank that had made her appear
so ungainly was removed, and a separate tender was constructed using a little
four-wheel sand car frame. A generator was placed on the boiler to supply
electricity to the electric headlight she now bore. The 4" diameter, three-chime
Powell whistle continued to shriek in the New Jersey twilight.
This previously unpublished photograph shows the engine that would
one day become the
Ernest S. Marsh some time in the mid-1950s. The tender
frame and wheels were eventually
utilized by Ward Kimball to make a small
passenger coach that his plantation engine,
Chloe, would pull.
The often-retold story is that by 1953, the locomotive had failed to pass her
boiler inspection, and so two 60-gallon hot water heaters were hidden in the
tender to supply steam to the boiler. This story was told by no less a historian
than Jerry Best. However, new research indicates this simply wasn’t the case. In
fact, the engine continued running at Pine Creek until 1957, whereupon it was
loaned to an amusement park in Farmingdale, New Jersey called "Cowboy City." It
spent two seasons there, but its age was definitely taking a toll on the park’s
maintenance budget. The engine was just too costly to maintain, and so, in 1958,
it was sold to a scrap dealer, seemingly destined for the same fate that had
befallen most of her larger brethren in the past few years. The scrap dealer,
however, thought there might still be a little life left in the old teakettle,
and so, instead of scrapping her, he placed an ad to sell her in a rail fan
publication called "Railroad."
While the introduction of the diesel in 1925 had spelled doom for the steam
locomotive, in 1958 there was one place in America where the venerable steam
engine was absolutely thriving, serving literally millions of passengers
a year. Walt Disney’s passion for steam trains had resulted in the creation of
the Santa Fe & Disneyland Railroad in 1955, and things couldn’t have been going
better for the line. It was only the end of the second year after the Park
opened that Disney realized he needed to add a third locomotive, and just a year
later, it became apparent that a fourth engine would was necessary.
While the Fred Gurley and her train provided additional
capacity in 1958, being able to service one
locomotive at a time still meant
that often only two trains were available. Another locomotive
was sorely needed
in order to assure that three trains could operate while one engine
undergoing regular maintenance.
While Disney’s construction division, WED, had built the first two Disneyland
locomotives from scratch, at nearly $50,000 apiece, the quest to save money
coupled with Walt Disney’s desire to preserve actual steam engines led his first
Imagineer and head of the Studio Machine Shop, Roger Broggie, to search for a
suitable used engine when he needed to add a third locomotive. That search
resulted in the Fred Gurley. When a fourth engine was needed, the same
tack was taken.
Roger Broggie initially contacted C.W. Witbeck in Louisiana, who had sold
them the small engine that became the Fred Gurley, but Witbeck didn’t
have anything available. However, in perusing "Railroad" magazine one day,
Broggie spotted the ad from the New Jersey scrap dealer. So, with Walt’s
approval, he picked up the phone and made a call.
The scrap dealer still had the engine, so Broggie quickly arranged a flight.
He brought along Jerry Best to help him evaluate the engine. Jerry Best, who was
a noted railroad historian, had a day job as one of the best sound engineers at
Warner Brothers. When Warner fired all his sound engineers, he found employment
The plane landed, and it was but a short drive to the scrap yard. The two men
looked over the engine from coupler to coupler, and were happy to discover that
it was in better condition than the engine they turned into the Fred Gurley
had been. There was still a lot of work that needed to be done, however.
The backhead of the engine before it was rebuilt. The large furnace
hefty scoopfuls of coal to be thrown in. Photo courtesy Michael Broggie.
To be continued...