Sunday, March 9, 2014

What is at Walt’s Barn? ~ Retlaw 101 Combination Car

                              What is at Walt’s Barn? ~ Retlaw 101 Combination Car

One of the wonderful things that is at Walt Disney’s Carolwood Barn is the Retlaw 101 Combine Car. So what is the Retlaw 101 Combine and what is the story?

First off let’s start with start with the name. Retlaw, stands for Retlaw Enterprises the company that owned and operated the Santa Fe & Disneyland Railroad, all the Main Street Vehicles and the Mark Twain Paddle Boat. Flip it backwards and Retlaw becomes Walter. Yes, Walt Disney had a privet company that owned and operated the stated vehicles at Disneyland. They were not owned by the Disney Company or Disneyland in anyway, they were his personally.

The number 101 means this was the first car of 6 that ran in a set on the Disneyland Railroad. On opening day there were 2 locomotives, #1 C. K. Holiday and #2 E. P. Ripley. The cars pulled by the #1 Holiday were 101-106 and the #2 Ripley were 201-206. So the 101 Combine was the first of the passenger cars pulled by the C. K. Holiday.

I’m going addressed why it is called a Combination or Combine car. This car is a combination of passenger and mail/cargo car. The first 1/3 of the car is for mail/cargo and the last 2/3 if the car is for passengers. This was standard on trains when Walt was a boy and when he was a boy Walt was a news butch on the trains selling newspapers and apples from his family farm. He would often take a break in the cargo section of the combine car so that type of car had one made for his park. Now this is not practical for an amusement park. It can’t carry as many guests and it also was not easy to load or unload guests. So why did Walt demand there be a combination car? I believe it was because it was historically correct and it brought back fond childhood memories. It is reported that the Retlaw 101 Combine (the only Disneyland Combine) was Walt’s favorite car.

In 1968 the Grand Canyon Diorama was added to the Disneyland Railroad. This required the change of the rolling stock because the front facing passenger cars were making it hard for people to see the Diorama. The cars were tipping slightly on the track as everybody moved over to see the Diorama. That is why this car is no longer in use at Disneyland.

The Retlaw cars were stored in the Disneyland Roundhouse for several years and then sold to privet collectors. Eventually the Combine ended up at the Carolwood Foundation and has been restored. 102-105 are in the hands of a privet collector that runs them in Northern California and the 106 or last car in this set was the Grand Canyon and has been re-imagined as the Lilly Bell VIP Presidential Parlor Car. The Lilly Bell is still being run at Disneyland and is for the use of VIPs, Club 33 members and daily tours.

If you are interested in the Lilly Bell Tour check out my other blog post for more information:

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