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November 10, 1971: The Simon Kenton Locomotive Makes Its Historic First Trip

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BLOG: November 10, 1971: The Simon Kenton Locomotive Makes Its Historic First Trip




November 10, 2020
Chad Showalter

Director, Communications - Kings Island

Twitter: @ChadShowalter


On Wednesday, November 10, 1971, the Simon Kenton propane fired steam engine made its first trial run on the KI & Miami Valley Railroad. The passengers were Kings Island officials and local reporters.  

The attraction included two trains, a vintage railroad station, narrow-gauge tracks and the trestle over a deep ravine along the course represented an investment of $700,000. It was one of the largest investments for the new amusement park that would open in 1972. At the time, steam locomotives had transitioned from a routine form of transportation to more of a novelty. On the day of the trial run, Gary Wachs, the park’s general manager, could not remember the last time he had been on a live steam train. 

“It’s been years,” he told a local reporter. “I think that’s why this will be an exciting ride.”

Today the Simon Kenton is known as the Lew Brown, named after one of the locomotives early conductors.

The locomotives are scale replicas of the famous 1800’s locomotive known as “The General”, which was the subject of the Great Locomotive Chase of the American Civil War. Although Kings Island’s engines are fired by propane rather than coal, the 400-gallon boilers on each engine provide plenty of capacity to make them real authentic steam-spitting locomotives. Each of the two engines – Blue No. 12 and Green No. 19 – weigh 25-tons and haul up to six coaches each. When both trains are filled to capacity, 960 guests can be on the rails at one time.


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The train at Dollywood still runs on coal. I got an ember in my eye once while riding on it.  No permanent damage but it made for a very uncomfortable first half of the ride opening and closing my eye lid and tear tearing up in that eye trying to work the amber out of it.

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