Saturday, November 14, 2009

Iron Horse Roundup- Deep Fried Bite-Sizey Version: Nov 14, 2009

(John Smaltak)

Savannah, GA has their streetcar up and running as of Spring 2009. In 2004, the city of Savannah purchased the River Street trackage from Norfolk Southern. Currently, the streetcar's route is only 1 mile down the cobblestone thoroughfare, but there are plans for expansion. The one and only streetcar is a 1930s-vintage former Melbourne (Australia) W5 streetcar that's been refitted with a wheelchair lift and is fueled by recycled vegetable oil from local restaurants, leaving some wags to refer to it 'A Streetcar Named Deep Fryer'.

(Ken Keuhne)

Vegetable oil may have had a role in saving the Grand Canyon Railway's steam program. In September 2008, GCRY's parent company Xanterra Parks & Resorts announced that it was terminating the Grand Canyon's steam program. Observers speculated that low ridership numbers and increased fuel costs factored in their decision, despite Xanterra's public statements about reducing pollution. However, later that year, Denver businessman Phillip Anschultz (who's assets have included the Denver, Rio Grande & Western, Los Angeles Lakers, The San Francisco Examiner and Walden Media among others) purchased Xanterra. Coinciding with the 20th anniversary of the Grand Canyon Railway, GCRY 2-8-2 Mikado #4960 made the run from Williams, AZ to the South Rim of the Grand Canyon on September 19, 2009 powered by recycled vegetable oil, according to the GCRY's website. The website also announced that additional excursions are planned for 2010, so it appears that Xanterra has done an about-face on the Grand Canyon steam program. Here, Ken Keuhne caught #4960 after it's return trip from the South Rim at the Williams AZ depot in Spetember 2009.

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