© JANUARY 03, 2002
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Arrow Dynamics is one of the most well-known manufacturers of thrill rides in
the world. Their coasters can be found at many first-class amusement parks
such as Cedar Point, Kennywood, Busch Gardens, and even Disneyland.
However, Arrow worked hard to get up there, and would you believe it that it
started out with amusement park trains in its catalog.
Back then, it was
called Arrow Development. It was a small company back in 1955. Based
out of Scotts Valley, California, It had been nine years since it was founded in
a Mountain View machine shop by Karl Bacon, Edgar Morgan, and Walter Schulze.
They started out making mine train coasters, merry-go-rounds, tracked car rides,
and of course, Amusement Park Trains. One of the early and most famous
trains turned out by Arrow was the Casey Junior Circus Train at Disneyland.
It was July 14, 1955; just three days before Disneyland was to open its doors. Legendary Imagineer Roger Broggie was at the controls when the train approached the first hill. It tipped backwards halfway up the 25-percent grade. Still moving in a forward motion, it started to roll over backwards. Thanks to a large construction worker, the locomotive was weighted down and stopped. This proved that a faithful replica of a cartoon design had to be modified before used in the real world. The problem was solved by installing lead weights in the pilot, and by asking operators to lean back. The second part of the procedure was found not necessary when tested. Even after this incident, this didn’t stop Walt Disney from working with Arrow. Several rides, both original and added, were made by the famed manufacturer. Arrow also produced the Mad Hatter’s Tea Party, Dumbo the Flying Elephant, Peter Pan’s Flight, and the Snow White attractions. Later attractions included Pirates of the Caribbean, the famed 1964 World’s Fair “It’s a Small World”, and the Haunted mansion. By far, the most famous of the attractions that Arrow built was the Matterhorn Bobsleds. The most traveled, however, is the parking lot trams produced by Arrow.
Arrow mass-produced two models in particular which ran on 24 and 30 inch track gauge. For the Wild West parks, there was the 1880’s-style steam outline locomotive. The train was fairly whimsical in design, with its large balloon stack and somewhat loose, curvy design. This was the “Ride-In-Cab” design.
There are two examples known to exist today of this type. One was built in 1961 for the Frontier Village Amusement Park in San Jose, CA. Coincidentally, the park was run in its later years by Arrow’s parent; Rio Grande industries. The train was sold to Sam’s Town in the Placerville area after the park’s closure. After Sam’s Town closed fairly recently, it was moved next door to Burke’s Junction Shopping Center. The second was built also in the 1960’s for the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk. This model was battery powered and ran on the “Cave Train” attraction. It was overhauled in 1998-9 and returned to service in 2000 on the “Cave Train Adventure”.
Arrow’s more modern design was the Arrow Streamliner, which did not offer the operator the “ride in cab” feature, nor the rider a covered seat. This beautiful train is an almost exact faithful replica of an F-unit streamliner. The details seem to be as accurate or even more accurate than those of the Miniature Train Company G-16’s. One There are clear Plexiglas windows in their proper places, and there are even working tail lights. The only known example of this train is at Useugi Farms in Morgan Hill, CA. The train runs along with a beautifully-restored Herschell Iron Horse during the Halloween and Christmas seasons when pumpkins or trees are for sale.
Arrow’s trains are rare and unique, and riding one will create a lasting memory. Whether you’re comfortably situated in a trolley-style passenger coach, riding in an animal cage, or sitting with the windows at your knee level, you will respect the uniqueness of these famous trains.
About the author
Ed Kelley is a volunteer at the 18" gauge Billy Jones Wildcat Railroad, Los Gatos, California. Ed has contributed articles for the Grand Scales Quarterly and hopes to contribute to Live Steam and other publications. Ed has also volunteered at the 19" gauge Swanton Pacific Railroad in Davenport, California and is in the process of building a 12" gauge railroad in New York. He is also a fan of all scales of railroading, with a concentration on the larger gauges 12" inch and above.
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