Before railroads existed, travel across the land had not changed much for thousands of years. George Washington travelled just as fast as Julius Caesar. Travel time was not measured in hours, minutes or seconds, but in days, weeks, and months. Railroads changed all that.
Railroad innovations in the 1800s were developed at a breakneck pace. If the latest model of a locomotive design could not cope with mountain terrain, higher speeds or heavier loads, the engine design was improved with the latest technology. As a result, regions all across the country were opened up for travel and commerce.
This oil-burning steam locomotive #2546 was built in 1911 at the Alco’s Works in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. It was known as the Consolidation type 2-8-0 and after 1875 it was the most popular railroad engine type in the country for almost 50 years. It weighs over 1,000 tons, and the oil tender behind that weighs about the same. The locomotive had a top speed of 40 miles per hour. Not so fast these days, but fast enough in the late 1800s.
Steam engine #2546 was given to the city of Marceline by Santa Fe and placed in Ripley Square on December 20, 1955. The caboose on the south side of the park was given by Santa Fe and placed in the park on August 10, 1987.
Walt Disney waved to the crowd in Ripley Square from the cab of this engine on July 4, 1956, with his brother Roy standing between the engine and oil tender. It was the day of the Walt Disney swimming pool dedication. The engine had just been lettered “Santa Fe and Disneyland Railroad” prior to Walt’s visit in tribute to the recently-opened Disneyland.