Special Event planned to celebrate Walt Disney's Miniature Locomotive Lilly Belle 50th
Walt Disney's Miniature Locomotive Lilly Belle Turns 50
July 16th: Walt Disney's Carolwood Barn is Site of Major Public Event
Contact: Michael Broggie--805-498-2336, email@example.com
Griffith Park, Los Angeles--On July 16, members of the Carolwood Pacific Historical Society will join with members of the Los Angeles Live Steamers at Walt Disney's Carolwood Pacific Barn to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Walt's favorite steam engine, the CP 173, Lilly Belle.
The live steam model was built in the Machine Shop at Disney Studios in nearby Burbank, under the direction of Roger Broggie, who later became one of the first Imagineers selected by Walt to build Disneyland.
The one-eighth scale miniature working model was patterned after an 1872 diamond-stacked, wood-burning engine that ran until 1909 on the Central Pacific Railroad, hauling timber, produce and passengers up and down the central valleys of California. Its bright brass work and balanced design appealed to Walt. The fact that it was the first steam locomotive built in California, appealed to Walt's interest in railroad history.
Prior to the completion of the intercontinental railway in 1869, engines were shipped around the Horn of South America from factories in the east, such as Baldwin in Philadelphia. With the completion of Central Pacific's shops in Sacramento and the availability of iron ore by rail from the east, the company could build its own railroad equipment.
When Walt began looking for a locomotive design, Roger Broggie recommended he meet with renowned railroad historian Jerry Best, who had built a half-inch scale live steam CP 173 for the Golden Gate International Exposition at San Francisco in 1939.
When Walt saw the model at Jerry's home, he decided immediately that it was the engine he wanted--only much larger. Fortunately, Jerry knew Dave Joslyn, who worked at the Southern Pacific Railroad office in Sacramento, and was able to obtain a full set of engineering drawings for the 173. (Southern Pacific had acquired the Central Pacific to expand its intrastate trackage.)
A master draftsman, Ed Sargeant, who worked in the Machine Shop for Roger, carefully redrew the plans to a miniature scale of one and one-half inches to the foot, or one-eighth of full size.
After the engine and tender were completed in 1950, during which, Walt becoming a willing "apprentice" in the Studio's Machine Shop, it was taken to the Disney familys new home at 355 North Carolwood Drive in the Holmby Hills area of Los Angeles. There it became the pride of the Carolwood Pacific Railroad that operated on 2,615 feet of custom-built trackage that was later donated to the LA Live Steamers. (Note that the name Carolwood Pacific duplicates the Central Pacific's initials.)
Inside his Carolwood Barn, Walt applied the training he received in the Machine Shop and eventually acquired a complete set of machine and woodworking tools to maintain his railroad. Walt was proud of the highly detailed yellow bobber caboose he built in his Barn (which is now displayed inside the Main Street Station at Disneyland).
After three years of operating his miniature railroad nearly every weekend, Walt decided that he wanted to open a small ride park next to the Studio, with his Lilly Belle as the main attraction.
Like many of Walt's ideas, the concept grew and eventually became a much larger railroad in five-eighths scale running around a themed amusement park.
As with the miniature, the rolling stock for Disneyland, including the two steam engines, C. K. Holiday and E. P. Ripley, was built in the Studio's Machine Shop. (Actually, railroad equipment construction spilled over onto the large sound stages-upsetting several Studio filmmakers.)
Luckily, the gauge of the five-eighths scale model railroad turned out to be the same 36 inches as full narrow gauge. Standard gauge is 56.5 inches.
Due to heavy ridership, more passenger capacity was needed. Two narrow gauge Baldwin engines were purchased and restored in the Machine Shop and added to Disneyland's roster along with new trainsets. They were Fred Gurley in 1958 and Ernest S. Marsh in 1959. Park engines are named for Santa Fe officials. Until 1974, Santa Fe was the sponsor of the railroad, which Walt personally owned along with the Monorail, through Relaw Enterprises.
This fall, another antique Baldwin steam engine will be added at Disneyland, and will be named in honor of Society Governor Ward Kimball.
The four restored vintage steam engines in the Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World Resort are Walter E. Disney, Roger E. Broggie, Roy O. Disney, and yet another Lilly Belle. That makes two large scale miniature steam engines, a VIP coach, a full-sized narrow gauge locomotive, and soon, 1,500 G scale models, all named Lilly Belle in honor of Mrs. Walt Disney! According to Diane Disney Miller, Lilly Belle was not her dads nickname for her mother. It was a name he gave his engine in honor of Lillian, who graciously agreed to allow Walt to run his railway right-of-way entirely around, over, through and under their five acre, elaborately landscaped residence. l l l
In honor of Disneylands 40th anniversary, Tokyo Disneyland wanted to display Walt's Lilly Belle locomotive in an elaborate display designed by Imagineering telling how the original parks origin is found in Walts miniature railroad. Since the family had already loaned the engine to Disneyland--the only Disney Park that Walt actually walked in--an alternative was suggested.
Roger Broggie, Jr., who worked for Disney Imagineering for 25 years, was commissioned through Retlaw Enterprises to build another Lilly Belle. Using parts that his father originally created for a ten-wheeled locomotive to be added to Carolwood, Roger fashioned a duplicate engine down to the smallest detail. During the nine-month construction period, Roger received help from his son Garry and grandsons Brian and David. Thus, four generations of the Broggie family worked on the engine.
It was displayed for two years at the Tokyo Park's Gallery. It is now displayed in the lobby at the Disney familys office building in North Hollywood, under the watchful care of Society member Jeff Kaye, who is Retlaws controller.
After seeing Walt's engine on the Disneyland television show and in train magazines, other live steamers wanted to own a Lilly Belle.
Wanting to share his hobby, Walt set up a small personal company and advertised "Walt Disney's Old Time Railroad" in hobby and train magazines, offering to sell builder's drawings, box cars, track fittings, caboose stoves, castings and a complete, ready-to-run Lilly Belle.
Initially, orders were handled through the Studio's Machine Shop. As demand grew, Walt set up a company through a post office box in Reseda, "The Miniature Locomotive Company." A live steamer named Dick Bagley, who worked for Roger, handled the orders.
Later, companies such as Little Engines and Railroad Supply Company offered versions of the CP 173. Side-by-side there are apparent differences between Walt's original Lilly Belle and other engines. l l l
On July 16, at Walt's Carolwood Barn, Roger Broggie, Jr. will discuss the building of the Disney CP 173 and exhibit the original wood patterns. A number of LALS members who own CP 173s are going to display them. Society member Jay Carsman, who is also a member of LALS, plans to run his handsome CP 173, which he recently renovated.
Retired Imagineer Morrie Houser, who joined Walt's WED Enterprises in 1954, will be on hand to discuss building his CP 173, the beautiful work-in-progress chassis that is displayed in the Barn.
Walts Barn will be open on July 16 from 11 am to 3 pm. Admission and parking is free. Picnic areas are available.
The Barn is located in the Los Angeles Live Steamers facility east of Travel Town in Griffith Park at 5202 Zoo Drive; off the 134 Freeway between Forest Lawn Drive and Victory Boulevard exits. Main freeway coordinates are west of the Golden State 5 near its interchange with the 134 Freeway. Note that there is no westbound 134 connector when traveling south on the 5. Exit at Western. Go west to Victory, then south to Zoo Drive and turn right to the LA Live Steamers, which is about a quarter-mile on the left.
- Posted July 11, 2000
Source: Carolwood Pacific Historical Society Press Release