GADSDEN, Ala. (WBRC) - The City of Gadsden has announced a plan to purchase new trains for Noccalula Falls Park. The trains are one of the most popular features at the park.
Noccalula Falls Park and Campground has consistently been ranked as one of the top attractions in Alabama, including earning a TripAdvisor Travelers’ Choice Award in 2020.
The engines are known as C.P. Huntington trains, and they are modeled after a historical steam locomotive of that name. Gadsden’s trains were built in the 1960s, and despite upkeep and maintenance being a priority, there is downtime where the trains are unavailable for visitors to ride.
To continue to improve one of Gadsden’s flagship facilities, the City plans to replace and upgrade the more-than-50-year-old trains to new, electric C.P. Huntington models from Chance Rides.
The new trains will keep the classic looks and sounds while reducing maintenance by eliminating things like oil changes, spark plugs, transmissions, radiators, leaks and exhaust. The cost for two new trains will be $1,040,000.
A renovation of the railroad tracks at Noccalula Falls Park will also be done to accommodate the new trains.
The City has a long history of working with the community to improve the Park. In 2007, the City entered into an agreement with the Noccalula Improvement Association to take over the annual light display that has become Christmas at the Falls.
“Residents like Bud Goss, Quint Pavey and their families and others like Danny Crownover were instrumental in getting the lights started,” said District 7 City Council Member Ben Reed, who also said that Goss and Pavey traveled out-of-state to obtain the Park’s trains.
Whether for fishing, a weekend dirt biking event or a competition like The Barbarian Challenge, Noccalula Falls Park regularly hosts thousands of visitors. Even without special events, numerous people spend time at the park for camping, walking/hiking, fishing, or visiting the botanical gardens and Pioneer Village.
As part of the agreement with the Noccalula Improvement Association, proceeds from Christmas at the Falls have been re-invested into the Park. With that funding, along with bond issues and grants, Mayor Guyton and the City Council have invested nearly $5 million into improvements and renovations at the Park over the last 15 years.
“We were able to take that initial community effort and put the City’s resources behind it to help make Noccalula Falls Park into what it is today,” Guyton said.
The park will have to be closed while work is done. The plan is to bid out the track renovations this fall so work can take place while the park is normally closed during January and February 2022.
Recently there was a tragedy at Noccalula Falls State Park with a fire at the petting zoo that killed about 75 animals. The cause is not yet known.