Phantom character of Hey Arnold!
Haunted Train, phantom
Haunted Train and its mad engineer
Voiced byJim Lang
Haunted Train. Mad Engineer

The Mad Engineer

The Haunted Train is a phantom steam 4-8-4 engine or an American North type steam locomotive (Old Engine 25) driven by the ghost of its mad engineer that appears once a year at an abandoned train station (Union Station). Arnold, Gerald, and Helga decided to check the legend about him, and discovered that it is no more than Grandpa's fib...or is it?


Old Engine 25 is a 4-8-4 Northern type steam locomotive of the Great Northern Railroad. However, one night, during a coach-stock movement from a rail yard to Hillwood's old Union Station, the engine was allegedly derailed by its engineer who, for unknown reasons, suddenly fell into insanity. No wreckage was ever found beyond one of the engineer's gloves clutching part of the locomotive's throttle; the only apparently remaining piece of the engineer as well.


There are a few theories as to why the engineer suddenly went mad that night. 

  • It could be that the engineer had some kind of mental problem (presumably schizophrenia or antisocial personality disorder) that required him to take special medication in order to function properly. If this is the case, then the engineer either forgot to take his medicine before going to work, or ran out of medication and was unable get more, thus resulting in him losing control and going mad.
  • It could also be that the engineer was experiencing marital or financial troubles at the time, and the stress caused him to be driven over the edge.
  • Also, it's possible that the Great Northern Railroad was cutting back on employees due to low revenues and the engineer was one of the employees that was to be laid off. As a result of this, the engineer decided to get even with the company by derailing the train, thus costing the Great Northern Railroad more money and somewhat tarnishing the company's public image.

Urban legend

Engine 25 and its mad engineer, under the name of "The Haunted Train," are the subjects of an urban legend told by Grandpa, asserting that the engineer drove the train straight to the fiery underworld, and that on the anniversary of the train's wreck, it would return to collect fresh passengers to bring to the underworld. For further details, see the Legend of the Haunted Train.

The Truth?

Evidently, after the wreck of Engine 25 and its train, the Great Northern Railroad salvaged and restored the locomotive and built or allocated a new consist of coaches for it. The engine avoided the scrappers torch and survived to the present day, perhaps through a preservation movement when the Great Northern shut down. No doubt being a steam engine, it went through a period of abandonment and neglect before being reinstated to service. Engine 25 is shown to be still operating at a nightly workers train run by the current railroad company (presumably from a newer station in another part of town, as the station in the episode is abandoned and the train only stops there to take on water from the water tower) to Hillwood's steel-mill. Arnold takes this as evidence that Grandpa made up the legend, but Grandpa himself remains ambiguous on the subject, after which the audience and Brainy are treated to a vision of Engine 25 passing again on a return from the steel mill, and the original phantom engineer telling the tale via a song.

Locomotive Specs

  • Railroad: Great Northern
  • Number: 25
  • Wheel Arrangement: 4-8-4
  • Type: Northern
  • Class: modified O5a
  • Builder: Lima Locomotive Works
  • Year: 1914
  • Weight on drivers: 218000 lbs
  • Engine Weight: 326000 lbs
  • Tender Water Capacity: 8000 gals
  • Tender Fuel Capacity: 15 tons


  • In the field of paranormal investigation, the Haunted Train would be classified as a Residual Haunting, because it visits only on the same day at the same time every year, and follows the same pattern. However, this only holds true for the train itself, because the engineer is observed singing on the anniversary instead of behind the controls of the locomotive. The engineer would instead be considered an Intelligent Haunting.
  • The Engine itself resembles the Spokane, Portland, and Seattle Railway's #700 and is a 4-8-4 engine or an Northern type steam locomotive. These types of engines have 16 wheels (four leading wheels, eight driving wheels, and four trailing wheels)

Appears in

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