Sunday, March 23, 2014

Ghost Town Locomotives

I was on vacation in Arizona last week, and we were mostly admiring the stupendous scenery, including southern Utah.  But for railway preservation, we found one interesting site.  The "Goldfield Ghost Town" is a private tourist attraction with old-time buildings, taverns, gift shops, a bordello, cowboys, a gold mine, and things like that.  But they also have three ancient electric locomotives from the Phelps-Dodge smelter in Douglas, which are reasonably well preserved for having been exposed to the elements for so long.

 These are all standard gauge, and operated only on captive trackage, of course.  #2 is the largest and most interesting; I hadn't seen anything quite like this before. 

It has a Westinghouse electro-pneumatic control system, much like a North Shore car.  The contactors are still clearly labeled. 

The traction motors are still in place.  Getting good pictures of the interiors is difficult in the bright desert sun.


Next in line is #18, which is smaller and looks more like a mine locomotive.  Of interest is the welded lettering on the side: 
which must stand for "Arizona Territory", to give you an idea of how old these locomotives are.  I did not find any builder's plates, so their date of manufacture is unknown.  I imagine they may well have been built at the smelter using purchased electrical parts.

This one has a much simpler control system, it appears.

Finally we have little #8.  The two smaller engines still have trolley poles.  The locomotives are at the back of the extensive property and are hard to find if you're not looking for them.  I doubt the management plans to restore them in any way, as everything else in the ghost town appears equally weather-beaten.

And I suppose this is an example of the cars they would be pulling at the smelter.

The ghost town also has an actual narrow-gauge train ride.  This is an internal combustion-powered locomotive, which is awfully loud even when idling, and you have to see it in person to really appreciate just how ugly it is.  We somehow avoided the train ride, but the gold mine tour was actually quite interesting and informative.  Anyway, pardner, IRM it ain't.


Anonymous said...

Looks like three more additions for the update to PNAERC!

Anonymous said...

The Saguaro in the background of Engine #18 looks like a perfect place to hang a trolley wire ;).

Ken MacLeod

Randall Hicks said...

Saguaro needles are incredibly sharp -- I bet Max would object to having to work near one. And they're a protected species. Trying to attach anything to one is not only difficult but illegal. Other than that, I guess I've heard worse ideas.

But the saguaro is certainly a fascinating plant, which only grows in a very limited area. On a local note, Randy Donley's steakhouse has the skeleton of a saguaro on display, all varnished up for some reason.

Chris said...

The "steam outline" amusement locomotive is obviously built using an electric or diesel mine motor as the base platform as well.

Anonymous said...

The control equipment on #18 looks more like something from a diesel or PCC car, with plain "series" and "parallel" contactors and a separate accelerator of some kind.

Anonymous said...

I'm surprised #18 would merit something so complex as Westinghouse Unit Switch control...probably a K controller would have served as well if not better!