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Ollie Johnston and the "Marie E" Steam-Up at Disneyland

Ollie Johnston and the "Marie E" Steam-Up at Disneyland

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After the hustle and bustle of the festivities to kick off the 18-month long celebration of Disneyland's 50th anniversary, there was a quiet ceremony the following Monday to honor a true Disney legend - Ollie Johnston.

And what an honor it was! Among other things, Ollie shared his passion for railroading with many other people in the Disney company. He was one of several people who introduced Walt to small-scale railroading. As we know, that led to the construction of the backyard Carolwood Pacific, which led to the Santa Fe & Disneyland Railroad.

Like another Disney animator with the railroad bug (Ward Kimball), Ollie also had a full size railroad - The Deer Lake Park and Julian. And just as Ward had a classic steam locomotive, the "Emma Nevada", Ollie had his own - the "Marie E." It may have been small in stature, but it was every bit as much fun.

Something particular to steam locomotives is that eventually, they all require a good deal of work to keep them in or return them to operational condition. That doesn't differ from the biggest of the big such as the Union Pacific's Challenger to something as petite as the "Marie E." Sooner or later, it is time to take matters in hand and tackle the mechanical challenges.

So it was with the "Marie E." as it was restored by the folks at Hillcrest Shops for it's new owner. All bright and shiny, the locomotive and it's accompanying caboose made the long trip (as many Disneyland visitors do) down the San Joaquin Valley to Anaheim; although not too many make the trip on the back of a low bed trailer and enter the property by the Ball Road gate! It may have been a short visit, but it certainly was a memorable one. From the collection of Roger Colton, we share a few images:


"Marie" gets up steam before a quick test run on the Disneyland Railroad. 




The view from the cupola of the DLP&J caboose.




Rolling past the Toontown depot on the test trip.




The Hillcrest Shops and TDA crews pose for a portrait at the Main Street Station of the Disneyland Railroad.




Ollie arrives at the Frontierland station and is greeted by family and friends including Tony Baxter and Michael Eisner (left). 



A quick drink of water from the Frontierland tank before heading off for the trip around the Park.




Ollie at the throttle of the "Marie E." during a pause at the Main Street Station.





Ollie and his fireman pause for an engine crew portrait of the big day at Disneyland.


According to those present, Ollie was very appreciative of the opportunity to take two trips around the Park at the throttle of his locomotive, now restored to operation. He handled the train as if it was just another day on the locomotive and would have kept going for many more trips. Yet the railroad had to be ready for guests at the Park that day, and there was only a short time for the festivities. In the finest of Disney traditions, a grand time was had by all. This was an extremely fitting way to honor Ollie in recognition of his many contributions and inspirations to the Disney legacy.

A special thanks to everyone who made the day possible!
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