If every picture is worth a 1,000 words; then it can be said that every train has a story. And our beloved steam locomotive has a fascinating story behind her. Here is the story behind our Huckleberry Railroad Engine 464.
Engine 464 was built in 1903 by the Baldwin Locomotive Works for the Denver & Rio Grande Railroad. She was the final "mudhen" in an order of 15 locomotives and is a narrow gauge class locomotive. Narrow gauge uses a small track gauge rather than the standard gauge: 3 feet as opposed to 4 feet 8 1/2 inches.
For most of her life she hauled freight and may also have performed helper duties and traversed some of the best railroad scenery in the world. She also served the Rio Grande Southern in the 1940s, and was used on the Silverton train, out of Durango, in the 1950s. Following this, she performed switcher duties in Durango until its retirement in the late 1950s.
In 1973, Knotts Berry Farm, of Placentia, CA, acquired #464, and it entered service there. It was used for several years, but was sidelined due to the low clearance of the counterweights (hence the name "mudhen") and a declining mechanical state.
Meanwhile back in Michigan:
In 1871 the Flint River Railroad began construction of a line that went from Flint to Otter Lake. In 1872 the Pere Marquette purchased the line and extended it to Fostoria. This line gave access to this vast lumbering and farming area.
The train moved so slow that it took approximately four hours to travel the 25 miles. It was said passengers could get off the moving train and pick the huckleberrys that grew along the track and reboard the train without it even slowing down. In 1925 the train discontinued passenger service, and in 1971 it was shut down completely.
In 1981, Genesee County Parks & Recreation Commission acquired #464 from Knotts Berry Farm and began immediate restoration of this beautiful steam locomotive. She entered service in 1989 and was named the Huckleberry Railroad. The rest, as they say is history as she still picks up passengers inside historical Crossroads Village and delights adults and children of all ages as she rolls through scenic Genesee County Park property.