June 05, 2023
Did you know Dollywood has a collection of iconic steam trains?
Meet Dollywood’s star steam trains - Cinderella and Klondike Katie. These two “ladies” have quite the storied history – from transporting troops on WWII missions in Alaska to hauling timber and coal in the Eastern U.S. Today, both make up what is known as the Dollywood Express.
While the Dollywood Express steam trains may seem like just another attraction in Dollywood’s line-up of great ones, they’re actually much more.
Steam trains have long been a symbol of American ingenuity, engineering and innovation. From the sound of the steam whistle to the chug of the wheel, these machines harken back to simpler times when trains were the primary mode of transportation.
In the Great Smoky Mountains, steam trains played a role in the growth and development of the area. Tourism in the region was greatly influenced by these trains, with visitors from all around the country boarding them to experience the natural beauty of the mountains and surrounding attractions.
Climbing aboard a Dollywood steam train is like taking a trip back in time. The trains and their passenger cars are designed to look just like the steam-powered trains from the early 1900s, with brass fittings, wooden seats and decoration. To complete the experience, the trains also feature authentic steam whistles and bells, adding to the immersive experience.
Departing from the depot located in The Village section of Dollywood, these slow-moving trains take visitors on a delightful journey offering picturesque views of the park. The sound of a steam whistle, vibrations of the steam-powered locomotive and stunning scenery certainly make for an unforgettable trip.
Making this trip possible, however, is no easy feat.
A lesser-known aspect of the Dollywood Express attraction is the amazing amount of work required to keep Cinderella and Klondike Katie running the rails. I recently had the opportunity to take a behind-the-scenes look at the Dollywood train yard and shop on the park’s VIP tour.
I found that Dollywood employs a team of highly skilled individuals who know their way around every nook and cranny of these historical trains to keep them running in tip-top shape. It’s a highly technical process that involves keeping a close eye on every component - the boiler, engine, electrical systems, etc.
In addition to maintaining the steam trains, the team also keeps a close eye on the rails. Regular inspections and repairs ensure they are safe and stable for travel. This includes inspecting rail joints, ensuring proper ballast, and monitoring for any signs of damage or wear and tear that could affect performance.
As expected, maintenance is crucial to a safe and efficient Dollywood Express operation. A dedicated team of mechanics and engineers work tirelessly to ensure that the trains continue to operate smoothly and provide visitors with an authentic experience.
I certainly came away with a newfound appreciation for the effort required to maintain these iconic machines.
As you can see, the Dollywood Express is a one-of-a-kind attraction.
It pays homage to something that has captured the hearts and minds of many people. The design, engineering and sheer power of the attraction's steam trains are a testament to ingenuity and innovation. The nostalgia and romanticism associated with steam locomotives also add to their enduring popularity.
So whether you're a first-time visitor or seasoned park-goer, a ride on the Dollywood Express is an absolute must-do experience.
You’ll be riding the rails on a piece of American history.
All Insiders Behind the Scenes
All Insiders Behind the Scenes