Tag Archives: heavyweight observation car

Santa Fe 3759 — 2004

Pentrex – Santa Fe 3759 – Video DVD
Seymour F. Johnson Enterprises – Farewell to Steam! – Audio LP

This is the story of the final run of Santa Fe Railway steam locomotive #3759 in 1955. A 4-8-4 Northern built by Baldwin in 1928, this oil-burning behemoth was saved from the scrapper’s torch and placed on display in Kingman, Arizona where it resides today.

Today’s movie review was inspired by an LP from my father’s record collection — which I literally wore out playing, as a youngster. Loved that record. It wasn’t until later in life that I discovered a great deal of color film footage had been taken of the fan trip and put out on DVD by Pentrex. I had to get a copy.

The harder part was getting a good audio CD to replace the original LP. Apparently, there are two versions out there. The first was the original 1955 sounds put out by Mr. Johnson (see above). The second, more common, was a 1958 remixed album which had the reverb turned up to 11. Awful recording. As someone said, “It sounds like the listener was at the bottom of a steel drum”.

Anyways, Trolley Dodger to the rescue! Offered for sale on his website (see link at the bottom of this review) is an audio CD of the ORIGINAL mono non-reverbed LP. Fantastic sound quality and frequently playing as I drive along in my truck. ;p

For this video review, I created over 200 screen captures, but I’ll try to whittle that down to 65 or less, as #3759 makes it way from Los Angeles Union Passenger Terminal (LAUPT) to Barstow and back. Let’s watch big steam in action over Cajon Pass! In color!

Climbing towards Summit, the Farewell to Steam special passes a beautiful set of A-B-B-A F units on a downhill freight. With the San Gabriel mountains in the background, AT&SF #3759 blasts through a cut during a photo runby.

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Sleepers West 1941

20th Century Fox

What could be more fun than a Fox “B” picture mostly taking place on a train? Private dick Michael Shayne (played by Lloyd Nolan) is transporting a surprise witness to a trial in San Francisco. Along the way, Shayne has to sort through plenty of onboard suspects who would like him (and his incognito witness) to not reach the courtroom.

If this plot sounds familiar, it was reused at least twice in 1952’s The Narrow Margin and 1990’s Narrow Margin.

Most of the onboard action takes place on sets, but there’s plenty of live train scenes including use of a Santa Fe Railway locomotive and depot location I could actually identify.

Even a “B” picture can have great, detailed scenes if you’ve got access to 20th Century Fox’s resources. Marble ticket counter, chandeliers, neon signs and arched track gates.

Can you spot the one little error in the train departure board? On most railroads, Denver to San Francisco would be considered westbound and thus the train should have an odd number. As an Amtrak conductor once said, “The odds go to San Francisco”.

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The Polar Express 2004

Warner Brothers

Ah, Polar Express.  A 21st Century classic Yuletide movie and the fund-raising savior of tourist railroads everywhere.  The soft-focus animated film featuring a magic train and steam locomotive on its way to the North Pole, Christmas Eve.

And WHAT a locomotive! Can you get any more Christmassy than Pere Marquette #1225, a “Superpower” 2-8-4 Berkshire built in October 1941 by the Lima Locomotive Works? Filmmakers used actual blueprints of this steam engine to assist animators along with recorded sounds made by PM #1225.

Hey, Christmas (12-25-2020) is coming up soon, so climb aboard with a bunch of other lucky kids and ride with conductor Tom Hanks to (maybe) see Santa away up North. All Abooooooard!!

How would you like to see this pull up your street? I love the rounded-end heavyweight observation car with Mars light and P.E. drumhead. Better hold onto that golden round-trip ticket real tight, son…

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