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Summer, Sand, and Steam...

Chapter 5

Victoria and the Cherokee

When Albert left the Cherokee Wonderland Railroad in the spring of 1963 for Cedar Point, Mr. LaSalle needed a replacement engine quickly for the Cherokee. With the opening of the Cherokee’s season only two weeks away, Mr. LaSalle began restoring an old saddle tank engine which was owned by the American Railroad Equipment Association. Normally the job would require long months of labor to remove the saddle tank, change the gauge, design and build a tender, replace the boiler jacket, check out the valve gear, and give her a 1870’s appearance. But Arthur did it. When Cherokee opened Mr. LaSalle brought out a very lovely locomotive ready to roll. He named his engine Victoria R.I., (Regina Imperium), NO. 4.

Originally Victoria had been built by H.K. Porter Locomotive Co. in March 1942 for the Carbon Limestone Co. of Hillsville Pa. When she arrived there, she received the running number 34. She was of the 0-4-0 saddle tank type with 12’’x18’’ cylinders, weighed 24 tons, had a 60’’ wheel base, a operating pressure of 180 lbs., and was built for the 38’’ gauge of track that Carbon used in their quarries.

The erection of #34 in the Porter shops represented the end of an era, by being one of the last locomotives produced by Porter with the simple slide valve cylinders. She symbolized the passing of the steam era of American Railroading.

Upon her arrival at Hillsville, she joined six sisters in hauling limestone from the shovels to the plant. War quickened the pace of operation and all of the Carbon Limestone engines were kept busy. The stone was loaded into ancient four-wheel cars by huge steam shovels, then pushed approximately a mile to the processing plant. A complete circuit of the line was 2.5 miles and #34 usually made 8 trips a day with loads averaging 76 tons.

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By the time she was retired in 1950, #34 had hauled a estimated 1,425,000 tons of stone, had consumed 1,320 tons of coal, 550,000 gallons of water, and made 20,000 trips around the quarry.

On the Carbon Limestone road as on all the countries major lines, the diesel replaced steam. For 13 years #34 was stored at Hillsdale. Then in 1962 she was purchased by the American Railroad Equipment Association. In the next year, Mr. LaSalle restored her for the operation on the Cherokee.

Mr. LaSalle had more plans for the little four wheeler than he could complete in the two week period. He envisioned Victoria as a fitting running mate for Albert. Victoria bore the name of a Queen of England and Albert bore the name of her Prince. Eventually #4 was to receive pony wheels, a wooden cab, and brass décor.

For two summers, Victoria pulled trains of happy tourists around the little Cherokee Railroad. The 1 1/4 mile route ran past a Cherokee Indian village, through tobacco patches, and along the beautiful Oconaluftee River. Though the Cherokee employed very light 30 pound rail, Big Vickie had no problems as she chugged along through the woods with the Smoky Mountains in the Background.

Financial difficulties forced the sale of both Victoria and Albert to the CP&LE in late 64’. In early 1965 Vickie arrived at the point. Each summer afterwards saw the pretty locomotive chugging along the bay with six coaches filled with excited passengers.

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