Dollywood Express

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Dollywood Express
Dollywood train.jpg
Dollywood
AreaVillage
StatusOperating
Opening date1961 (1961)
Ride statistics
Attraction typeHeritage railway
ManufacturerBaldwin Locomotive Works
WebsiteDollywood Express
Disabled access Wheelchair accessible
Dollywood Express
Village
Roundhouse
(not open to public)

The Dollywood Express is a 3 ft (914 mm) narrow-gauge[1] heritage railroad and amusement park attraction located in the Dollywood amusement park in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee.

Description[edit]

It runs along a 2.5 mile loop-to-loop track from the Village to the top of the mountain Dollywood borders to the north. It is pulled by two ex-White Pass & Yukon Route 2-8-2 "Mikado" type steam locomotives, each burning five tons of coal each day. It is the oldest attraction in Dollywood, opening at the theme park "Rebel Railroad" in 1961. It is also one of the signature attractions at Dollywood, appearing in almost all advertising.

History[edit]

Rebel Railroad[edit]

In 1957, North Carolina real-estate developer Grover Robbins opened a theme park between Boone and Blowing Rock called Tweetsie Railroad with ex-East Tennessee and Western North Carolina Railroad 4-6-0 #12. The park was an instant success. In 1961, he acquired two USATC S118 Class 2-8-2s from the White Pass. The success of Tweetsie prompted him to send one of them, #192, to the Smoky Mountains of East Tennessee for a second theme park, called Rebel Railroad. The other, #190, was sent to Tweetsie and still operates there.

Gold Rush Junction[edit]

In 1966, Robbins renamed the attraction Gold Rush Junction and a western-style "shootout" was added at the midway point in the ride, allowing the locomotive to stop and "cool its heels". In 1970 the Cleveland Browns football team bought the attraction, but the locomotive and cars retained their colors and text.

Silver Dollar City Tennessee[edit]

In 1976, Jack and Pete Herschend bought Gold Rush Junction, renaming it Silver Dollar City Tennessee, making it a sister park to its Branson, Missouri attraction Silver Dollar City. The ride was renamed again. This time, instead of a minor text change, #192 was given a complete new look. She was painted black instead of Tweetsie green. She was also fitted with balloon stacks to give her a more western look. In 1977, the ride acquired 3 new locomotives from the WP&YR, #70, #71 and #72.

Dollywood[edit]

In 1986, Dolly Parton became part owner of the property, and the park was renamed Dollywood. The ride, to go with the new name, was renamed Dollywood Express. After the 2004 operating season, the park removed the balloon stacks, which were proving to be unpopular and gave the locomotives a new coat of paint. Since the removal of the balloon stacks, the locomotive's paint schemes have been constantly changing.

Locomotives[edit]

Number Type Wheel Arrangement Builder Built Serial Number Former Status In Service Notes
70 Steam 2-8-2 Baldwin Locomotive Works 1938 62234 White Pass and Yukon Route Operational Yes Nicknamed the "Cinderella".
71 Steam 2-8-2 Baldwin Locomotive Works 1939 62257 White Pass and Yukon Route Stored No

Nicknamed the “Beatrice”. Awaiting restoration.

72 Steam 2-8-2 Baldwin Locomotive Works 1947 73351 White Pass and Yukon Route Scrapped No Used as a parts source for engines #70 and #71.
107 Steam 2-8-0 Baldwin Locomotive Works 1887 8869 East Tennessee, Virginia and Georgia Railway Display No No. 107 is standard gauge and is unable to run on the Park's 3ft gauge tracks. On display at the front entrance of Dollywood.
192 Steam 2-8-2 Baldwin Locomotive Works 1943 69427 White Pass and Yukon Route Operational Yes Nicknamed the "Klondike Katie".

Train Maintenance[edit]

When the park is closed during part of the Winter every year, the Dollywood maintenance crew usually follows a checklist to maintain the trains and keep them in pristine, working condition. According to Dollywood, the trains are sanded down and repainted every year, the running boards are replaced, brake systems are overhauled and other basic repairs are made where necessary. The train repair crew even contours the wheels if needed to ensure that patrons of the attraction can have a smooth, bump free ride. [2]

Along with the regular maintenance performed every year on the locomotives, the train repair crew also overhauls the engine on the locomotives every ten years to ensure the trains operate properly. The locomotives are also winterized at the end of their yearly maintenance to ensure that they are protected from the cold in the park's offseason. [3]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Steamlocomotive.com - Surviving Steam Locomotives in Tennessee
  2. ^ Taylor, George. "Dollywood Express Overhauled in Off-Season". Dollywood Insiders. Retrieved 2021-02-05.
  3. ^ (From Dollywood's Blog Website) "The engines are winterized and readied for any maintenance and overhaul. They get a major overhaul about every ten years. This is an overhaul year."

External links[edit]