Let’s all take a trip down Memory Lane at Fort Wilderness … or, rather, Memory Railroad. Way back before Wilderness Lodge was built, over at Fort Wilderness, one could ride the rails on the Fort Wilderness Railroad.
From 1973 to 1977, four steam trains built on a 4/5 scale circulated around Fort Wilderness on a 3.5-mile-long track. Each train was 115 long and could hold 90 guests. It made for a very different campground experience than the norm.
The cars were a forest green color, and guests entered from the front or back, with a center aisle. Large windows allowed guests to view the campground as they rode by. StartedByAMouse.com reports that the four trains were created by Walt Disney Productions. The engines and coaches were designed by WED Enterprises, and construction was by Mapo; these were the two divisions of Disney that designed and built all of the theme park attractions.
Sp why were the trains in operation for only four years? The Disney Parks Blog says that there were several reasons, including the small size of the trains’ fuel tanks, and track problems due to a high amount of clay in the soil.
After the railroad closed, some of the passenger cars were used as the original ticket booths at Pleasure Island. Another can be seen in the parking lot of Typhoon Lagoon. And over at Fort Wilderness, tracks and trestles are still visible in some areas, as buses now shuttle Fort Wilderness guests around instead — certainly not as charming as the ole’ railroad.
Did you ever get to ride the Fort Wilderness Railroad? Leave a comment below.