Engine of the Week: #110

imageThis beauty is a 2-6-6-2T articulated Mallet built by The Baldwin Locomotive Works in 1928 for the Weyerhaeuser Timber Company of Vail, WA. Its next stop was The Rayonier Lumber Company where it received a tender from Rayonier #101 and was retired in 1968. This engine was later displayed at the Wasatch Mountain Railway in Heber City, UT, and then sold to the Nevada State Railway Museum. Number 110 was sold to the Black Hills Central Railroad in 1999 and was trucked from Nevada to South Dakota on four semi-trailers. Restoration on this engine by the BHC mechanical crew was completed in 2001. It is the only 2-6-6-2T Mallet in service in the world! See what it looks like today (among other engines).

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Engine of the Week: Our #104

locomotive104aHere’s something to take Dad to see this weekend for Father’s Day: Steam Engine #104. This engine has some history at the Black Hills Central Railroad.  On May 14, 2001, it was the first to handle a four-car train from Hill City to Keystone in over 28 years after repairs on the track and restoration of the engine were complete, thanks to new ownership under Bob and Jo Anna Warder.

It is a 2-6-2T tank engine that was built by Baldwin Locomotive Works in 1926 for the Silver Falls Timber Company in Oregon and The Peninsula Terminal Railroads in Portland, OR. The Black Hills Central Railroad acquired #104 and its twin #103 (built in 1922) in 1965. Engine #104 having been in continuous service over the years, while #103 is currently in storage awaiting its restoration.

More on the rolling stock at the 1880 Train and the history of the operation may be found in the 1880 Train Guide Book.



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Engine of the Week: Our #7


Engine #7 today

locomotive72aThe Black Hills Central Railroad Engine #7 is a 2-6-2 with tender built by Baldwin Locomotive Works for the Ozan-Graysonia Lumber Company in 1919. The locomotive was sold to and operated by the Caddo and Choctaw Railroad several years later. The “Seven” was sold to the Prescott and Northwestern in Northern Arkansas in 1938 and was acquired by the Black Hills Central Railroad in 1962.


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Steam Seminar On for Second Season

steam seminar promo postcard 2014After a successful first year, the 1880 Train is holding two Steam Seminars again this season on June 21 and September 6 from 8 am-noon at the Hill City station.

For those who haven’t attended, this is what you can expect: Railroad Engineer Mike Grimm will give an overview of the inner workings of a steam engine. But then he will put the classroom behind and take the group out to see the real thing in action, a steam train firing up for the day. Least you think this is an easy process, it actually takes 3 hours for the train to get fired up. Not a quick process (and, no, you won’t stand there for the whole process!)

Next, attendees will see the water tower and hear why the hundreds of gallons are needed to travel from Hill City to Keystone and back.

Inside the Engine House, Mike will give a brake demonstration and dispell any notions that train brakes just “go out” on a regular basis, like what happens in the movies. Nor can cars easily break loose from the rest of the train, like when the good guys are trying to get rid of the bad guys. I don’t know about you, but I’m OK with that news.

Mike will also go through the casting process. Since they can’t just go buy needed parts at Lowe’s or Menards, they make all of their own parts in the Engine House. A talented group!

The highlight of the day will be getting inside the cab of Steam Engine #7. Participants are able to get a look at the controls and really understand how it works.

As you can see, the Steam Seminar is not just talk. It’s hands-on and interactive for all ages and backgrounds. I hope you take part in the next one coming up on June 21  or September 6. Register now!

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1880 Train Hosts Second Annual Priaire to Peaks Iron Horse Rail Summer Camp

Prairie to PeaksThe 1880 Train is hosting the second annual Prairie to Peaks Iron Horse Rail Summer Camp  in partnership with the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) June 10-12 in Hill City, SD. Registration forms are available online. Space is limited, and campers are selected on a first-come, first-serve basis.

The camp’s main purpose is to teach young people, ages 11-15 years, rail safety around highway/rail grade crossings, railroad rights-of-ways, rail equipment and rail operations. In addition, it educates them about the many different crafts that are necessary to operate a railroad and exposes them to the opportunities available in the rail industry.

The camp is free other than transportation to and from Hill City, thanks to many sponsors. Lodging, meals, transportation to Mount Rushmore, admission to the South Dakota State Railroad Museum, bike rentals for exploring the George S Mickelson Trail and a T-shirt are included with the camp.

“Registrations have doubled this year,” says camp organizer Ken Naylor, who is also a railroad safety specialist/chief inspector with the FRA of the U.S. Department of Transportation. “The 1880 Train is the perfect place in the Black Hills to provide this opportunity for our future railroad fans.”

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The Train Team

1880staff7Operating the 1880 Train takes more than the engine, it takes a team of professionals (from the engineer to the ticket agent) to give passengers a pleasant experience. Here’s a brief synopsis about the 1880 Train crew.

Engineer – The engineer is in control of the speed and direction of the train, and he blows the whistle. That’s the fun part!

Fireman – The fireman monitors the amount of fuel and water the engine is using. In the case of the 1880 Train, which burns used motor oil, the fireman uses the injector to add fuel to the fire. The amount of water in the engine is viewed using the water glass. The fireman needs to constantly watch both the steam pressure of the engine as well as the water level in the water glass. In this case, a watched pot DOES boil.

Conductor – The conductor is in charge of everyone and everything on the train. (Be nice!) During the ride, he collects tickets, assists passengers and monitors the engine and train cars to make sure everything is operating correctly.

Brakeman – Brakes are good. During the ride, he assists passengers and other crew members and also monitors the engine and train cars. While in station, the brakeman sets and releases the hand brake on the train cars and assists with the boarding process and concessions.

High-Liner Snack Shoppe – A girl’s gotta eat! Eatery staff ride on board the train and sell refreshments such as soda, candy and popcorn to passengers. Eatery staff also work in the Hill City station at the High-Liner Snack Shoppe, which has a wide menu, including hot dogs, nachos, sodas and ice cream. Yum!

Depot Gift Shop Staff – Shopping is ALWAYS good. Gift shop staff sell souvenirs and gifts to passengers and assist passengers with questions about the operation and make guest reservations.

Ticket & Reservation Agents – These people are your “go-to” people. Agents reserve and sell train tickets and also help to answer questions passengers may have.

Maintenance Staff – A clean train is a happy train. Maintenance staff assists with boarding the train while it is in station, answer passenger questions and make sure the grounds and facilities are clean and well maintained.

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Oliver Evans

Oliver Evans

Most of the time, the realization of a dream is not an easy thing. Vision creates a dream, and it evolves over time. In the case of the steam engine, steam-engine pioneer Oliver Evans was that visionary.

In 1800, he said “The time will come when people will travel in stages moved by steam engines from one city to another, almost as fast as birds can fly, 15 or 20 miles an hour . . . A carriage will start from Washington in the morning, the passengers will breakfast at Baltimore, dine at Philadelphia and sup in New York the same day . . . ”

An inventor, Evans produced a steam-carriage design in 1789 and a high-pressure stationary steam engine in 1800. Although he was granted a patent for the steam-carriage design, he did not invent a working machine until 10 years later . . . mainly due to the lack of financial investors. They couldn’t “see” what he saw.

Many others followed him, dreaming and building on his ideas for more than 200 years. Today, man can go much faster than a bird . . . in some ways, because of one dreamer named Oliver.

What else do you know about Oliver Evans?

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1880 Train Sights and Sounds

mapYou already know the SOUNDS of the 1880 Train, but I just wanted to remind you of  the SIGHTS you will see on a ride as well.

True, the train rolls through the Black Hills forest where you’ll see, well, trees. But there are some hills that are worth noting on your trek (see map), such as Old Baldy Mountain, Elkhorn Mountain and Tin Mill Hill. And don’t forget Harney Peak, the highest point in South Dakota, which is in view to the south.

Wildlife, such as white tail deer, mule deer, wild turkey, wood chucks and rabbits, are abundant along the tracks. However, sometimes they are shy so be patient. 🙂

We are now taking reservations for the 2014 season. Whenever you take your next 1880 Train ride, look out the window and soak it in!

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Top Seven Things a 9-Year-Old Asks on the Holiday Express

Jessica poses with an 1880 Train elf in front of the Holiday Express.

Jessica poses with an 1880 Train elf in front of the Holiday Express.

I took my daughter, Jessica, on the Holiday Express last Saturday and had a special time riding together and singing familiar Christmas songs at the same time. She REALLY knows the “falalalalas” well to Deck the Halls. What I will remember most are some of the cute questions she asked. Here are the top 7 questions. Oh to be a child again…

#7. Confused that Santa was taking pictures with kids at the Hill City depot, she asked, “Are we leaving Santa?”
#6. “Is this a magical train?”
#5. “Does this train turn into the Polar Express?”
#4. While listening to the 1880 Train version of The Night Before Christmas she asked, “I think they got that wrong. Did they change the story?”
#3. When the train started moving with Santa on board, she asked, “Are we kidnapping Santa?”
#2 When looking at the picture of her and an 1880 Train elf that I posted on the 1880 Train facebook page, my little marketer said, “I only got 46 likes. That’s not very good out of 944 views, is it?”

And the #1 one cute question she asked was:
#1. When viewing Santa’s workshop from the window of the train, she inquired, “How can all the elves fit in there?”

What will you remember from the Holiday Express? May the wonder of a child brighten yo

Written by Debbie Ketel, the 1880 Train blogger. By night, on weekends and between kids’ events, I convey the vision of the 1880 Train to YOU. (I’m also learning about trains.) Join the blog and take part in my journey!

ur Holiday season!!


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1880 Train has Trains, Trees, Santa and Deals this Weekend

2011HolidayTrainByChadCoppess (3)There is still time to schedule some fun before Christmas. You can ride the Holiday Express, take photos with Santa, enjoy 25% off clothing in the Gift Shop and visit the Trees & Trains exhibit all on the 1880 Train property.

The 1880 Train’s Holiday Express is currently taking reservations for departures on this special train December 21, 22 and 23 at 12:45 pm, 2:30 pm, 4:15 pm and 6 pm.

The Holiday Express takes passengers on a journey from Hill City to the North Pole where Santa will be waiting to board the train. Each child will get the chance to meet Santa and receive a small Christmas gift. This holiday ride is perfect for the whole family! Purchase tickets now at www.1880train.com or by calling 574-2222. Tickets are $28 for adults and $12 for children (3-12).

New this year, photos with Santa in the Santa’s Caboose will also be available for ticket holders and the general public at $10 each or 3 for $25. Times for photos include December 21, 22 and 23 from 11:30 am – 8 pm. Cash or check only please.

The Gift Shop will be open 10 am – 7:15 pm December 21-23 as well with clothing 25% off.

Located next to the 1880 Train’s Hill City Depot, the South Dakota State Railroad Museum’s Annual Trees & Trains exhibit is open weekends through the month of December. Times vary and are available at www.sdsrm.org. Admission is $5/adult and kids 12 and under are free. Ticket holders will see Christmas trees decorated by area businesses, scale model trains and historic exhibits.

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas!

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