Thanks, Kevin! I was kinda hoping that you would read my post and respond.
You know better than anyone what all has gone on at the SMRR. You and I would probably recognize each other since I was always hanging out at the Stone Mountain Scenic
Railroad - when the steam trains were running!
Like you, I was full of hope that Silver Dollar would live up to their promise to re-start the steam program at the park. I even offered to do a video documentary on the rehab of the engines. You won't be surprised to learn that no one ever replied to my offer.
About 6 years ago, I was out at the park doing another project and asked a staffer if they were ever going to get steam back on the rails. He repied that they had tried, but to no avail. Apprently, they tried to steam one of the engines without doing any rehab on it. It seems that it promptly sent a fire plume up the stack and caught some of the woods on fire!
Oh well, I keep hoping...particularly with SFoG dieselization of their "Texas"....
To answer Locoboy's question, most of the passenger on the train I was on last summer did not seem to enjoy the experience at all. The flat cars are uncomfortable, the diesel engine is loud and sounds like it is going to break down any minute, the sound system in the cars is full of static and distortion, and the music show was lame. Passengers getting off the train had an attitude that it was a waste of time/money for them to ride.
Atlanta is too big now to have community concern about steam operations at either Stone Mountain or Six Flags. As we have discussed on here before, most people don't understand the difference to rally to a cause to re-start steam at either park. My personal sense is that if steam were running - people would enjoy the ride more.
What is really sad is that we have a great railroad museum/historical society in town - Southeastern Railroad Museum ([url]http://www.srmduluth.org[/url]). They could easily keep one steam engine at each park operational and run them on special occasions. Yet, the management at both parks have refused the offers/suggestions. They rather let the engines sit outside and rot.
Ultimately, economics are driving this issue. In the papers it has been reported that Silver Dollar has not been sucessful running the attractions at Stone Mountain. They did all this build-out and now can't make their contractual rent payments to the State of Georgia. They don't get that the attractions they built are rather cheesey and come off as "poor man's Disney".
It is ironic that with two large theme parks here in Atlanta, I choose to take my family to Walt Disney World.