The Great Train Wreck
- Architecture & Design
- Visual Arts
The Great Train Wreck is an artistic interpretation of railroad history where locomotives were ceremoniously destroyed in head-on crashes for public entertainment, often drawing crowds of 40,000 plus. The California State Fair staged wrecks from 1913 to 1917.
Our group, collaborative artisans Reno Sacramento or C.A.R.S., is a new formation of long time relationships. At the heart of each group is the key personnel responsible for building and burning the C.O.R.E. projects representing their respective regions in 2013. After forming a bond on playa buiding so close together that year we unoffficially declared Reno and Sacramento to be sister cities. The following year Debbie Brower aka Red Vixen came up with the initial idea of a project representing the long history shared between these two cities based on the vital connection of the railroad. After the C.O.R.E. projects were morphed into the souk and carnival and the guilds the same groups of builders continued to bring installations representing their regions and supporting each others efforts.
At Burning Man in 2018, we will have two interactive wooden locomotives from Reno and Sacramento that will ultimately simulate a crash-and-burn as the finale. The engine design is a 2-6-0 configuration, circa 1870s. Participants will be able to access the cab of each locomotive, and walk platforms on each side of the water tank and tender cars. The cab’s various controls and playthings are operable and functional, with a whistle atop the boiler unit, a "steerable" LED headlight, warning bell, "steam" vents for the drive units, and a CO2 powered "smoke" generator in the stack . We will be laying over 200 feet of wooden train tracks on the playa. The overall display will have a sound component of various train noises, some of which will be operable via radio link to art cars.
The Reno group will be building their train at The Generator in Sparks, NV. while the Sacramento group have a build site on one of their local volunteers property. Construction has begun at both locations with the basic structure scheduled to be complete by the end of June. All of July will be spent decking out the basic structures to be highly detailed authentic representions of 1870s era steam locomotives. The majority of the funds raised will be spent on materials used in construction and decore with the transport costs coming in a close second. Our lighting plan is very simple in comparison to the typically elaborate lighting displays of many large Burning Man installations, yet nearly 100 total feet rolling stock requires more than a battery powered ELwire or two.
In a final show, with great fanfare (and a great deal of pyrotechnics) the locomotives will be rolled together, using human power with ropes and pulleys, to create a collision with explosion, and then burn to the ground.