The Dollywood Express is an attraction and heritage railway located at Dollywood in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee. It runs along a 2.5 mile loop-to-loop track from the Village to the top of the mountain Dollywood borders to the north. It is pulled by two ex-White Pass & Yukon Route 2-8-2 mikado steam locomotives, each burning two tons of coal each day. It is the oldest attraction in Dollywood, opening at the theme park "Rebel Railroad" in 1961. It is also one of the signature attractions at Dollywood, appearing in almost all advertising.
Daily Operation :
Depending on the park's operating schedule, the general timetable for departing trains begin an hour and a half after opening, and the final run one hour before the park closes. The fireman will report to work about three hours before departure, and will begin inspections.
The track is inspected each morning, and the locomotive is serviced by removing the stack gag, opening all operating valves to appliances to test their operation, as well as blowing down the sight glasses, cleaning the banked fire, cleaning the smokebox cinder bonnet, refilling lubricators, cleaning the ashpit, coaling the tender, and a scrubbing down of locomotive and tender with soap and water. Once the engine has been serviced, the engineer or fireman will perform a hammer test on all pins, nuts, and wedges on the running gear and replace brake shoes and tighten up driving box wedges as necessary. The whole process usually takes 1½ hours to make the engine operational for the day, and the rest of the time is used to clean and make adjustments.
Once the train is ready and a brake test has been performed, the train is pulled around the lower loop into the station. The consist is generally seven open-sided, bench seat style cars, which were constructed for the park from former East Broad Top Railroad freight equipment. The last car on the train is capable of wheelchair access, and the conductor on the trip will narrate and observe the train from here. A full train can haul upwards of 600 passengers per trip, and an estimated 5,000 passengers throughout the course of the day. The track length is between 1.9 miles, with a loop and a spring switch on each end with the total round trip being 2.9 miles.