Death Valley Scotty 1955

McGowan Productions, Inc.

I first heard about this train-laced TV episode from an article in Trains Magazine of April 2012. “Speed and Spectacle” by John Hankey mentioned Santa Fe Railway putting together a replica of the Scott Special of 1905 (see above) including one of the actual steam locomotives used (ATSF #1010), for an episode of Death Valley Days. I was intrigued.

Built by Baldwin in 1901, #1010 is a 2-6-2 and was used on the Needles, CA to Seligman, AZ segment of the Scott Special’s run. It was refurbished by Santa Fe Railway in 1954 specifically for the TV episode. ATSF #1010 was donated in 1979 to the California State Railroad Museum where it is preserved as a static display.

Let’s explore Death Valley Scotty’s record-breaking run to Chicago. Highball!

Headlight extinguished and with both engineer and fireman in the gangway, Santa Fe’s replica of the Scott Special poses on double track for its portrait in this ATSF publicity shot from the above-mentioned “Speed and Spectacle” article.

Thanks to Trains Magazine for providing useful background information about Death Valley Scotty’s record-breaking run of 1905. Los Angeles to Chicago in just under 45 hours. Whew! Why, that’s an average speed of 50.4 mph!

As our episode begins, we find ATSF #1010 tugging its 3 cars along (baggage car, dining car and Pullman sleeper).

Notice the snow on the ground. I’m thinking this was filmed at Summit, CA on Cajon Pass with an elevation of 3,829 feet.


Death Valley Scotty (played by Jack Lomas) is chatting up the boys at a 2 story depot. In the foreground (on a stretcher) is Albert Johnson (played by William Schallert). Mr. J is in bad shape, so Scotty invites him to stay on in the desert climate. Motley string of work train cars behind Al.

Lo and behold, it’s a miracle cure! Now looking quite fit on horseback, Albert discusses future plans with his new buddy, Scotty.


Time passes. It’s 1905 and A.J. is back East reading the stock ticker. In Los Angeles, Scotty marches into a Santa Fe sales office and charters a train for himself to get to Chicago in 46 hours. Not wanting to waste a good publicity stunt, the railroad makes sure it’s in all the newspapers.

Notice the Santa Fe emblems pasted on the wall throughout the office…in case the salesmen forget where they’re working. ;p

Soon, the Special is on its way, blasting along, filmed from a parallel track.


Nice sequence as “The Coyote Special” (another name for the train) rolls by the camera. We have good 3/4 views of the locomotive, baggage car, diner and sleeper.

Then there’s this hokey scene with Scotty and his corn-cob pipe supposedly shoveling coal into the locomotive. If you look closely, it appears he’s shoveling coal out of a bin or fireplace in a house somewhere. Hollywood.


Blasting out of the Alray Tunnel on Cajon Pass, comes the special.

Back at the office, railroad officials are listening to the telegraph for updates on the Scotty Special. A couple boys from the press burst in and ask, “What’s the latest?”.

Out on the mainline, #1010 has the train racing along under a fine plume of smoke.

In our final train pictures of this episode, we see a water tower and the station of Cajon, (California) as lettered on the small, white depot.

They made it! A photographer is on hand to document Scotty’s triumphant arrival in the Windy City. Later, Scotty has dinner with his old pal A.J.

Well maybe just one more “train”. Briefly mentioned in today’s picture and in the closing credits is the Borax “20 Mule Team” briefly used in Death Valley before a railroad spur was built to the mines.

I remember seeing Borax TV commercials when I was a kid, but not the Rosemary DeCamp or Ronald Reagan ones commonly seen on YouTube.

I am including a link to this episode on YouTube below, but I actually purchased the DVD which had a much clearer print for my screen caps. Enjoy!

Here is the episode on YouTube:

Here’s what IMDb has to say about Season 3, Episode 16: Death Valley Scotty
https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0556592/

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!

THE END

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