Q: The Disneyland Railroad was one of the amusement parks' opening-day attractions in 1955. Engine No. 1 was named for a famous Kansan. What's the name of Disney's Engine No. 1 and what's this person's connection to the railroad industry?
A: C.K. Holliday (Cyrus Kurtz Holliday), founder of Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Railroad
The Disneyland Railroad was one of Disneyland's opening-day attractions on July 17, 1955, with two steam engines in operation. Engine No. 1 – C.K. Holliday – was named for Cyrus Kurtz Holliday, founder of the Atchison & Topeka Railroad Company in 1859, which became the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railroad. Later on, it simply became known as the Santa Fe. C.K.’s fellow opening-day steam engine, No. 2 – E.P. Ripley – was named for Edward Payson Ripley, who was the first president of the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Railroad.
Disney would also name its next two engines after other Santa Fe executives. In 1958, the Disneyland Railroad expanded with Engine No. 3, named after Fred Gurley, who was president of the Santa Fe Railway from 1944-1957. Engine No. 4 – Ernest S. Marsh – was added the following year, on July 25, 1959, and was named for the president of Santa Fe Railroad at the time.
Why all this fascination with the Sante Fe Railway? Only Walt Disney knows for sure, but one thing is certain. The Santa Fe Railway was, at one point, the world's largest railroad company. It was popular with passengers and became even more famous when a number of recording artists started singing about it. The hit song was called "On the Atchison, Topeka and the Santa Fe." Johnny Mercer and Bing Crosby sang about the Santa Fe and so did Judy Garland. In 1946, she performed the catchy tune in the movie "The Harvey Girls." That same year, the song won the Academy Award for Best Original Song.
Fun factoid: Despite mentions in the lyrics of the song, the Santa Fe never reached Laramie, Wyoming, or Philadelphia, Pennsylvania without using partner services of other railroads like the Baltimore & Ohio and Pennsylvania Railroad.