Tag Archives: Caboose

Station Master 1954

National Film Board of Canada

This film was recommended to me by Pete! It’s the third National Film Board of Canada movie I have reviewed on my blogs and the first to mainly feature Canadian Pacific Railway (CP). This is the story of CP station master Dalton Henry and his crew in little Finch, Ontario. The Canadian Pacific had a crossing here with a New York Central (NYC) branch line to Ottawa.

Steam was still active in Eastern Canada at the time and there is a nice mix of trains on both railroads. The CP rails still exist through Finch, but the NYC branch was abandoned shortly thereafter in February 1957.

This black & white short packs a lot of railroad action into its 15 minutes and is a poignant look at the way things used to be on the railway. Highball!

Out in front of the depot, a section gang is busily shoveling snow from switches and the crossing diamond. Up in the interlocking tower, Charlie lights up a Player’s and checks his pocket watch. Note the nearby telegraph key and dispatcher’s phone on a scissors arm.

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Webs of Steel 1926

Anchor Film Distributors

Wow! This obscure, little gem is just PACKED with railroad action. While many/most of the early B&W movies I have reviewed (such as Murder in the Private Car 1934 and The Block Signal 1926) were filmed on Southern Pacific or Santa Fe rails, Webs of Steel was filmed mostly, if not entirely on Union Pacific Railroad (UP) in the Los Angeles area.

More specifically, we are treated to a whole slew of oil-burning, beefy 2-8-0 Class C-57’s, lettered for UP subsidiary LA&SL (Los Angeles & Salt Lake).

The heroine of this silent flick is the plucky Helen Webb (played by Helen Holmes). Actress Holmes came from a railroad family and did all of her own stunts in this movie as well as a string of other railroad-related pictures.

Two UP 6000 series 2-8-0’s are blasting along during the elopement scene. Helen and her beau (the engineer) are trying to stay ahead of the second 2-8-0 bearing her father — who does not approve of this joining! Sparks are sure to fly (groan…) when Dad catches up with them.

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Empire on Parade 1957

Empire Photosound, Inc.

We sing the song of a railroad! Narrator Roger Krupp waxes poetic during this 40 minute film extolling the history and present day operations (circa 1957) of the Great Northern Railway.

Empire on Parade features the westward journey of freight train #401 from Minneapolis to Seattle and the industries and agriculture it serves along the way. We also get many views of the GN’s flagship Empire Builder passenger train.

It’s a festival of first-generation diesel locomotives including representatives from EMD, Alco and Baldwin.  In color.  So let’s take a journey during the hey-day of the post-war Big G.

The Empire Builder is about to drop a semaphore signal somewhere in the Montana Rockies. Note the 3 short Great Dome coaches and 1 large Great Dome lounge car which helps date the film after late 1955.

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The Greatest Show on Earth 1952

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Paramount Pictures

The circus traveled by rail as demonstrated in Cecil B. DeMille’s Technicolor masterpiece of 1952. Winning the Oscar for Best Picture, this is the film that made Charlton Heston a star.

For this review, I concentrated on circus scenes that had trains in the background. Some highlights include an Atlantic Coast Line (ACL) steam locomotive and caboose, a Pennsy GG-1 electric and a elaborately-detailed scale model of the two circus trains.

Our review begins 19 minutes into the movie as the Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus (RBandB&B) prepares to leave its Winter Quarters in Sarasota, Florida.

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It took hundreds, if not thousands of people to operate the circus. As wagons of equipment are loaded piggyback-style on the left, performers and support staff prepare to board the passenger train on the right.

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