Opening in 1973, the Fort Wilderness Railroad was a 4/5 scale fully operational steam train that ran through the extensive property of the Fort Wilderness Campground. Unlike the engines found at the Magic Kingdom, the engines of the Fort Wilderness Railroad were not given names and were differentiated only by numbers painted on the sides.
Though the official reasons for its closure were never released, many problems ultimately lead to the demise of the Fort Wilderness Railroad. Issues ranging from fuel capacity (leading to stranded trains of guests) to track conditions are the most widely accepted however in 1979 it is rumored that a young girl riding a bicycle was struck by a passing train which supposedly sealed the fate of the railroad. Operating only occasionally beginning in late 1977, the railroad was finally shut down and abandoned to nature in the early 1980’s.
After its closure, some of the train cars were reused around Disney property. Two were placed on Pleasure Island property and re-purposed for use as ticket booths (eventually repainted to fit the theme of the area). Another was reported as part of the theming found outside Typhoon Lagoon. The Carolwood Pacific Historical Society has reclaimed at least one car and engine in an attempt to preserve the railroad’s history.