This weekend Cedar Point celebrated the 50th anniversary of the Cedar Point and Lake Erie Railroad. During this celebration, Cedar Point is highlighting the long standing tradition and history that the railroad has at the amusement park. The event started with a dedication given in front of the Main Station and continues through the weekend with self guided tours of the engine house.
The railroad opened in 1963 through the work of then president George Roose. However, it was not as easy to accomplish. After scouring the country, two steam engines were found that could fit the purpose for what Cedar Point needed. Maud L. and Albert would open the 1963 season as Cedar Point's first railroad locomotives. Since then, the park now operates five locomotives and is one of the few parks that utilizes coal fired steam locomotives. The train would be an especially important part of Cedar Point with the opening of Frontiertown in 1970. At this time, the railroad represented only one of two ways to actually reach the new area with the other being the now defunct Frontier Lift sky ride. That year, the CP & LE Railroad delivered 4.5 million rides to the guests of Cedar Point.
Throughout the years many engines have come and gone. However possibly the most interesting story is that of the most traveled train and newest at Cedar Point. The now named G.A. Boeckling was originally used as a coal mining train but eventually came under the ownership of Marriott's Great America in Gurnee Il in 1980. In 1984, it sold to the private ownership of Bill Norad who eventually traded it to Disneyland in 1996. In 1997, it traveled to Disney World eventually being put on display at EPCOT. In 1999, Cedar Point traded their original engine, Maud L. for it. It stayed at Cedar Point until the 2007 season where it traveled to Knott's Berry Farm in Buena Park, CA. It's current home is back at Cedar Point when it returned from Knott's in 2010.
Today, the train is still an important part of the Cedar Point landscape. The fifteen minute ride that traverses two miles of track has served over 116 million guests over its 50 year history. According to Brian Smith, former Assistant Supervisor of the railroad at Cedar Point, the CP & LE offers something different for families and enthusiasts. When asked what in specific he says, "you get beautiful views of the bay and get to go see some of the behind of the scenes parts of the coasters that you might not be able to see any other way." He also adds that this railroad is special because "you get the full experience of being able to smell the coal smoke and the oil. It's a nice way to relax or end your day at a great coaster park like Cedar Point." Like Brian, we hope that the CP & LE Railroad keeps on chugging for another fifty years.