Hop Aboard the Dollywood Express!
With the popularity of Thomas the Tank engine, it is no wonder that kids from across the country are thrilled when they find out that there is an actual steam locomotive at Dollywood. And what’s more… you can ride it up around the park for one of the best rides in the park and one of the best ways to take in the park as a whole. And it Christmas they take this ride to a whole new level by adding lights and the sounds of the Holiday Season to the ride.
The Dollywood Express, the engine and the track came from theme park owner Grover Robbins. Robbins had built a theme park n Blowing Rock, NC called Tweetsie Railroad. After acquiring a new engine for his theme park in Blowing Rock, he placed a second one in Pigeon Forge at a new park called Rebel Railroad. This train, and Rebel Railroad opened in 1961. That train that started on the tracks in the 60s is still in operation today. It is a USATC S118 Class 2-8-2 and came from the White Pass. Engine #192 from this deal – otherwise known as Klondike Katie – is still in operation today at Dollywood. Along with this engine, they also have engine #70, known as Cinderella that runs on the Dollywood Express track throughout the year.
The train ride is hugely popular. There is just something to be said for sitting in the passenger cars being pulled behind a steam locomotive that makes the ride up the mountain even more enjoyable. People line up more than a half hour before the ride leaves the station to make sure that they get a good seat on the train. After you board, the station master will give you some brief instructions and then you will start your trip up the mountain. You ride through the theme park itself for most of the ride. Yo get to wave at the crowds as you journey up into the mountains. On your trip you will get to see the backside of Dollywood, dioramas of mountain life including a replica farm and of course, you get one of the best views of Dollywood ever – from the moving grandeur of a more then 75 year old steam train.
Make the Dollywood Express part of your Dollywood experience. Make sure that you get there early. Make sure you get a good seat. Buy some refreshments for the journey. Watch in delight, the children sitting around you. Marvel at the way their eyes grow as they listen to the steam whistle out of the train and the music that the train makes on the tracks as it journeys through the mountains.