This made-for-TV movie stars TWO steam locomotives. The first is Texas State Railroad [TSR] #400, a Baldwin 2-8-2 built in 1917. The second is an Alco RS2 diesel locomotive #7 built circa 1947. (Alco diesels were always referred to as “honorary steam engines” by railfans, due to the copious amounts of black smoke belched skyward upon starting.)
#7 started life working for the Point Comfort & Northern Railroad in Texas, coming to TSR in 1975. Since this movie was filmed, the #7 has been repainted into a beautiful Southern Pacific “Black Widow” scheme.
James Garner (Yes, Mister Rockford Files) is the lead character in our motion picture and the film is the story of a mid-20th century railroad worker about to lose his job due to diesels replacing steam.
Many thanks to good friend Scott Tanner who slipped me a DVD of this flick for inclusion on this blog. And now, let’s see Rockford and the boys playing with their trains!
It appears to be early spring as TSR #400 and train roll through East Texas.
As the picture begins, we get a symbolic shot of the newer-technology diesel overtaking the steam engine on a work train.
The movie takes place in “Cushing, Oklahoma, 1952”. I believe the Cushing depot seen here was filmed at Rusk, Texas on the TSR.
Nice broadside view of the diesel passenger train. How about that crazy paint scheme?
Coming and going shots of TSR #400 and short freight train. Garner/George waves at the fireman. Note the steamer is labeled for the fictitious, “Ozark & Panhandle Railroad”.
TSR #400 has since been restored to its original appearance as Tremont & Gulf Railroad #30 and is operational as of 2019.
George “bends the iron” (throws a switch) so his train can back into a siding.
Beautiful series of O&P #400 being rotated on the turntable in good low light. Of course they couldn’t resist at least one artsy-fartsy back-lit shot with the setting sun.
In 1954, Tremont & Gulf Railroad #30 was sold to the Magma Copper Mine in Arizona. While at Magma, the little 2-8-2 was renumbered as #7 and was seen in the 1962 MGM movie, How the West Was Won. In 1974, the engine was purchased by the Texas State Railroad and became their #400.
Is this how Arlo Guthrie got started? Washing up in the baggage-combine made over into sort of a men’s club break room.
Alas, down by the depot, George feels his coming obsolescence with the passing of the diesel-led passenger train.
Cheesecake interlude! Local whiskey-swilling temptress Venida (played by Anjanette Comer — RAHR-RAHR!) briefly takes up with George.
Not to worry, George’s wife Norma (played by Joan Hackett, hubba-hubba!) gets him back with a short, but tasteful shower scene onboard his outside-braced wooden caboose (didn’t know cabooses had showers).
Is that a cool 1948-1951 Willy’s Jeepster or what? (Thanks, Mark!). Down by the station, local boy has a chat with George — uh-oh. Filmmakers missed the TSRR reporting marks in the background!
As the movie draws to a close, George’s entire family boards the train to leave town. I like that Ozark & Panhandle paint scheme on the coaches, viewed from the bay window of the depot.
Great fireman side shot of the #400 rolling through the piney woods. Just up ahead, George and his dog have blocked the tracks with his truck. The engineer applies the brakes.
George gets the train stopped, boards the coach and makes a great face, much to the bemusement of his relations. Anyways, he hustles the entire brood off the limited and crowds them all into his GMC stepsider.
The engineer and fireman wave a hearty farewell as the consist trundles down the right of way — ending the railroad scenes.
Yes, I left off great swaths of this movie, but the abundance of railroad action more than made up for the film’s uneven plot. There’s something about a train…
Here’s what IMDb has to say about The Long Summer of George Adams:
If you have ANY information about this movie you’d like to share, please contact me at: Lindsay.Korst@gmail.com, or leave a comment. Thanks and enjoy the blog!