CP Executive train in Albany

CP Executive train in Albany

Monday, July 12, 2021

Rome & Fort Bull Railroad (1980s)

Pop Quiz: name a two-foot gauge steam railroad that operated in upstate New York within the past 20 years? If any of you answered the Rome and Fort Bull Railroad, you would have been correct! It was a park ride that operated in the old Erie Canal Village in Rome, NY. I went there once or twice when visiting my grandparents who lived in Utica, and distinctly remember the train. It was an actual live steam locomotive, not a gas-powered engine dressed up to look like a steamer, and the track plan featured a straight run with return loops at each end. The pictures are from 1987 and 1988.

Based on internet research, it appears that in the last fifteen or so years of operation it had a 2-6-2 steamer, an 0-4-0 steamer, a Chance brand CP Huntington steam-profile diesel engine, and then an actual Plymouth diesel engine pull the train. 

This is a picture of me (the tall one with my blonde hair) and my brother when we rode the train in September 1987. Is it any wonder that I am still fascinated by both steam trains in general, and 2-foot gauge trains in particular?

Here is a better shot of the engine, now with my sister included. It is named the "Edward J. Nolan", and information found at a link below indicate that he built the engine originally in 15" gauge for his private track. 

If the chassis was rebuilt into a 24" gauge ride that would explain why the recycled drive and bogie wheels are so tiny compared to the rest of the engine. It almost looks toyish.

Ironically, in the picture below my brother seems more excited than I am to be on the train, but if you look closely I appear to be studying the couplers connecting the cars on the train. I have always loved staring at train details such as this and find it relaxing. 

Here is a nice shot showing the water tower. I imagine that they actually used it to fill the tender with water.

Here is a satellite image of the site, and the red lines I added are where the tracks ran. It was quite a nice set-up. As a kid I remember thinking that the switches were likely sprung on the return loops.

This last picture is from a 1970s-era postcard, and note that the cars don't have roofs.

Sadly, the Erie Canal Village has been shut down for many years and the whereabouts of the train itself are unknown. There are attempts to bring back the site as a historic place to visit, but the train tracks were pulled up and the trains taken away. However, this online board thread has some information regarding the whereabouts of the train equipment. Hopefully, someday... somewhere... they will operate again.

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