In fact, all five names did belong to real people. Not much is well known about some of them, but they all have an interesting connection to history--some to railroading and some to Disney.
Engine No. 1 - C. K. Holliday: Named after Cyrus K. Holliday, the first president of the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway. In 1859 Holliday wrote the charter for the railroad company that would connect the cities of Atchison and Topeka by rail. The track followed the Santa Fe Trail--hence the name "Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway".
Engine No. 2 - E.P. Ripley: Named for Edward Payson Ripley, the fourteenth president of the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway. Ripley began his work in the railroad industry as a freight agent for the Pennsylvania Railroad. He worked his way up, ultimately becoming the company’s general manager. He also worked for Burlington, the Milwaukee Road, and finally the Atchison, Topeka and SantaFe Railway.
These were the first two train engines at Disneyland, operating starting on Opening Day, but a few years later, two new trains were added.
Engine No. 3 - Fred Gurley: Named for Fred G. Gurley, who began his career in 1906 on the Chicago, Burlington and Quincy Railroad. Like Ripley, he worked his way up through the ranks, finally becoming an assistant vice president. He transferred to Santa Fe as a vice president, then was elected president, and ultimately became Chairman. Gurley retired in 1959, which means he was still Chairman at the time the locomotive was named after him, March 28, 1958.
Engine No. 4 - Ernest S. Marsh: Locomotive #4 was also named for the then-current president of the Santa Fe Railroad. Marsh was president of the Santa Fe Railway system from 1957 - 1966. He was instrumental in aiding Walt Disney in getting this engine, which had been in the possession of a scrap dealer at the time. Marsh was also responsible for signing the first five-year extension of the Santa Fe Railroad sponsorship agreement with Disney.
For more than 35 years, these trains served Disneyland guests, and then a fifth one was finally added in time for the Park's 50's anniversary in 2005.
Engine No. 5 - Ward Kimball: In a break with tradition, this locomotive was named not after a Santa Fe Railroad president, but after one of Disney's animators (and one of the famed "Nine Old Men") and fellow railroad enthusiast. The headlamp is unique because it features Kimball's most famous animated creation: Jiminy Cricket. Kimball was also partly responsible for Walt Disney's inspiration to build the Disneyland Railroad at Disneyland. Kimball's Grizzly Flats train station was the model for the Disneyland Frontierland Train Station as well.
Each of these locomotives has its own fascinating history, and now you know where the names came from.
For you to discover: Engines 1 and 2 have a unique feature that provides a very special experience for some lucky theme park guests most days. What is it?
You can read more from Randy on his blog, Faith and the Magic Kingdom and listen to his unofficial Disney podcast, Stories of the Magic. Find him on Twitter (@Belgarion42) and on Facebook. Randy is also an independent Travel Consultant affiliated with CruisingCo.com and MouseEarVacations.com and would love to help you with any of your travel needs, for Disney destinations and beyond!