In 1949, Bob was a 19-year-old machinist at Martin Lewis’ Little Engines in Southern California. One day, a couple of men and a young girl came in to see model trains and learn about the hobby of live steam railroading. It turns out it was Walt Disney, his daughter, Diane, and Roger Broggie, then head of the precision machine shop at Disney Studios.
Bob eventually joined the Disney organization in 1969, and his unique talents were used on a number of projects. Among Bob’s major accomplishments was supervising a small crew headed by George Britton that converted four old Baldwin engines into the beautiful chuffers that travel around the Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World Resort. He was in charge of the installation of the Ft. Wilderness Campground Railroad. He and Joel Fritsche were on the team that managed construction of the rolling stock at Disneyland Paris. They also created the trains for Disney’s Animal Kingdom at Walt Disney World Resort. One of Bob’s proudest projects outside Disney was the building of a quarter-scale Hudson class live steam locomotive that is displayed at the California State Railroad Museum in Sacramento. He built many model locomotives during his long and productive career and they remain his legacy as prized examples of highest quality miniature engineering.
Bob Harpur died in November 2012