In the 1890's, the Mid Sodor Railway thought a plan to increase tourism on their railway by extending their railway to Kirk Machan where a seperate railway would be built to reach the summit of Culdee Fell, the highest mountain peak on Sodor. But the easiest way up the mountain improvised was running through the property of Lord Harry Barrane, who thwarted their plans in order to protect 'his mountain.' The Skarloey Railway saw this to their advantage by making a coach tour service half way up the mountain as far as Skarloey Road. When this happened, members of the Mid Sodor Railway Company board began to reason with Lord Barrane for approval of the construction of the line because tourism was decreeasing around the area of Peel Godred and Kirk Machan. Barrane agreed on the condition that no cuttings were made into the mountain to preserve it's natural shape. This was agreed, and the Culdee Fell Tramroad and Hotel Company Ltd. was formed as a subsidary of the Mid Sodor Railway Company. Barrane was voted the chairman of the company.
The Snowdon Mountain Railway, which has recently opened, offered some advice to the company to use the 'rack and pinion' system they used to ease the climbing performance. They also helped to support the finances the railway to be constructed and eventually, the railway was finished and inspected by the first Monday of March 1900. The first train to be tested failed when the first engine (Godred) mysteriously derailed and tumbled down the side of the mountain with no casualites (except for the engine, of course). A second test train (Wilfred) bumped into the coaches and lurched them off the rails, with no casualties once again. The passengers and the derailed engine remains were recovered without trouble, but the Board of Trade shut the line down in order to repair the line for the rest of the summer in order to make sure everything was safe to prevent more accidents from happening.
After a succesful inspection by the Board of Trade, the Culdee Fell Mountain Railway was reopened in Easter of 1901. The line has proved to be a great tourist attraction in the Sodor midlands and saw more than 60,000 visitors inbetween the months of April and October. But eventually in the 1930's, the Mid Sodor Railway Company began to decline financialy and the Culdee Fell Tramroad & Hotel Company Ltd. was sold off and made a seperate company alltogether to ensure survival.
The railway still has proven to be a great tourist attraction since then and due to it's firm safety precautions, the railway rarely sees any accidents (except one noteable incident in 1961 when No. 6 (Patrick, formerly Lord Harry) 'slipped' off the points at the Summit Station, which is probably why it has only been featured (so far) in the Railway Series.
The Culdee Fell Mountain Railway begins in Kirk Machan, a religious village nested at the foot of the mountain of Culdee Fell. Here it conjuctions with the Electric Branch Line. owned by the North Western Railway, incoming from Killdane exchanging passenger traffic. The line then cuts through the heart of a small hill and climbs over the electric railway with a viaduct beginning the climb by entering Shiloh, where there are plenty of picnic stops and the start of the walking trails heading up towards the Summit Hotel at the top as well as Saint Machan's Cave on the other side of the mountain. After Shiloh, the line steadily climbs and curves around Poll-ny-Crink before coming to call at Skarloey Road where it overlaps the B511 road used by the military to access the Ward Fell Slate Quarries now an ammunition storage. From here, the weather gets too cold for even grass to grow and the scenery is barren. Within a quarter mile, the halt at Devil's Back is reached. Here the line is constantly plagued with wind, and the trains must take extreme precaution and safety but rescue trains and stores trains are always top priority. The line finally ends at Summit Station, where there is a hotel and observation point here.
Since the line was built from the start as a tourist line, it always and still does, carries passnegers. Also, a frequent mail service is supplied by the railway for the villages along the line. Supply trains are also carried so the villagers could get supplies to survive in the mountains.
Godred (No. 1) - Named after King Crovan and was the first of the batch of five engines built and sent to Sodor in 1897 from Switzerland to run the mountain railway. Lost during testing operations due to a stone in the rack rail causing him to jump off the rails and fall over the side of the mountain. Dismantled in favor of spare parts for the other engines.
Ernest (No. 2) - The second of the batch of five engines built and sent to Sodor in 1897 from Switzerland to run the mountain railway. Oldest operating engine in service on the line (since the No. 1 Godred was lost in 1900).
Wilfred (No. 3) - The third of the batch of five engines built and sent to Sodor in 1897 from Switzerland to run the mountain railway. Is considered the 'musical engine' of the railway because of his constant toots he makes with his whistle while working.
Culdee (No. 4) - The fourth of the batch of five engines built and sent to Sodor in 1897 from Switzerland to run the mountain railway. Was sent for an overhaul in Switzerland in 1962, and was the last engine to do so. From then on, all further repairs on the mountain engines were taken on at the NWR Workshops at Crovan's Gate.
Shaine Dooiney (No. 5) - Named after a neighboring mountain, he was the fifth and last of the batch of five engines built and sent to Sodor in 1897 from Switzerland to run the mountain railway. Was sent to England for an overhaul in 1962 and during when the events of Mountain Engines took place in 1963.
Patrick (No. 6) - Formerly named Lord Harry after the railway's former chairman (taken away because of stubborness), Patrick was one of the three engines bought to the mountain railway in 1962 to fill in for Culdee and Shaine Dooiney who were having an overhaul.
Alaric (No. 7) - He was one of the three engines bought to the mountain railway in 1962 to fill in for Culdee and Shaine Dooiney who were having an overhaul.
Eric (No. 8) - He was one of the three engines bought to the mountain railway in 1962 to fill in for Culdee and Shaine Dooiney who were having an overhaul.
Awdry, Wilbert: Mountain Engines
Awdry, Wilbert: The Island of Sodor: It's People, History & Railway
Awdry, Christopher: Sodor: Reading Between the Lines