Tag Archives: Santa Fe Railway

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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Sudden Fear 1952

RKO Radio Pictures

A cross country train trip on a through sleeping car is the highlight of today’s feature. Believe it or not, back in the 1950’s, you could ride from New York City to Chicago, then on to San Francisco (Oakland) in the same sleeping car. Other railroads also offered similar coast to coast service.

What we see on screen (and out the window) is a wonderful mish-mosh of various railroads — some that would definitely NOT be on our movie’s NYCBurlingtonD&RGWWP routing.

Myra Hudson (played by Joan Crawford) is a successful playwright whose smash hit is running on Broadway. Whilst riding the train out of New York, she spots Lester Blaine (played by Jack Palance) boarding at an intermediate stop. Myra had rather abruptly dismissed Lester from her play. Well. This might be a touch uncomfortable.

Palance turned in a wonderfully-creepy performance in this picture and Crawford… oh, those scary eyebrows. No wonder she wound up portrayed in the campy horror classic, Mommie Dearest. “Tina!! Bring me the axe!”

Anyway. It’s film noir on a train and that’s always a winner. Remember The Narrow Margin, anyone?

Can’t have a noir flick without smoke. Through the haze we see the studio’s recreation of Grand Central Terminal.

Note in the background, Track 25: Commodore Vanderbilt (Train 67) and Track 24: State of Maine Express. Myra would have taken Train 67 which carried the through 10-6 sleeper.

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Bound For Glory 1976

United Artists

Four! Count ’em, FOUR steam locomotives star in today’s movie review. Just to whet your appetite, the four steamers are:

  1. Sierra Railroad #3, an 1891 Rogers-built 4-6-0.
  2. Sierra Railroad #28, a 1922 Baldwin-built 2-8-0.
  3. Sierra Railroad #34, a 1925 Baldwin-built 2-8-2.
  4. McCloud River Railroad #25, a 1925 Alco-built 2-6-2.

Today’s feature is a 1930’s biography of folk singer Woody Guthrie (played by David Carradine). Filmmakers really went all-out, pulling 34 obsolete freight cars out of a scrap line and painting over most railroad identification marks.

Train scenes were filmed along the Western Pacific, Tidewater Southern and Sierra Railroads. Let’s jump right in and enjoy THIS TRAIN-laden bio pic.

Electric traction also made a brief appearance in this flick. Woody/David is about to step off Pacific Electric #1058 in Los Angeles on his way to the studio. With a trolley pole reaching for wires that aren’t there, this Red Car had to rely on an internal-combustion engine of some sort.

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The Sixteenth Cousin 1963

ABC 4 Star Television

“Somebody get me The Sarge!Chuck Conners (as Lucas McCain) starred for five seasons of The Rifleman, blasting away on his customized Winchester 92 carbine to begin every episode. BTW, the above link (in blue) is a fascinating read — with details about the Winchester used in the series.

Anyway. Episode 159 of 168 seemed to have the most train scenes. Lucas and his boy Mark (played by Johnny Crawford) are riding the first train into Northfork (New Mexico Territory). It wasn’t until I started taking screen caps that I realized all the live train footage was lifted from other movies and stock footage.

Still, it was fun to try and identify the railroad bits — especially as locomotives and railroads would change from shot to shot (maybe they won’t notice…). C’mon, let’s check it out!

The episode opens with a short passenger train rolling through the desert (I can’t make out the locomotive except that the steam engine is producing a fine plume of smoke). Quickly, they cut to the churning drivers of a 4-4-0.

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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!

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Railroadin’ 1929

Hal Roach Studios

Whilst grazing around on YouTube, I came upon this absolute gem of an early black and white talkie. Railroadin’ features the Little Rascals / Our Gang kids on location at Santa Fe Railway’s Redondo Junction roundhouse in Los Angeles.

The star of the show is AT&SF #1373, a 4-6-2 built by Baldwin in 1913 and scrapped in 1949. In addition, we catch glimpses of a whole bevy of steam locomotives at the roundhouse which I’ll try to sort out later in this review.

Many thanks to “chrisbungostudios” on YouTube for putting together a most useful “Filming Locations” video, which will be linked to further down in my write up.

It’s iron horses galore in the last golden days of the Roaring Twenties! Let’s check it out.

Santa Fe Railway #1373 belches copious amounts of black smoke skyward (sanding the flues) as it runs along a side track. Notice the string of boonie old “outside braced” wooden box cars in the background.

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Loaded For War 1944

Santa Fe Telefilm Recording

Wow, early first generation diesels star alongside Santa Fe Railway’s magnificent fleet of steam locomotives in this color film showing the AT&SF was doing its bit to help win World War 2.

As a vital link to the Pacific Theater, Santa Fe received the lion’s share of EMD FT diesel locomotives built before and during the war.

Let’s take a look at how one railroad hauled military, freight and passengers along with all the facilities needed to keep the system going. Santa Fe, All the Way!

An EMC E6 locomotive gets its slant nose scrubbed down as a Baldwin 4-6-4 backs up alongside; a 4 unit set of EMD FT’s pulls past a very smoky iron horse.

GM’s Electro-Motive Division designed the famous red and silver “Warbonnet” paint scheme as well as the more somber, but still classy blue and yellow for the freight FT’s.

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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 Addams Family 1964

Filmways Television

When Classic Toy Trains magazine (May 2020 issue) arrived in the mail, a single photograph (see above) on page 12 caught my eye. A fellow by the name of Larry Osterhoudt had created a replica of the Lionel layout seen in the 1960’s TV series, The Addams Family. I was intrigued.

Doing some research on the show and its use of model trains yielded a plethora of videos and a wealth of information about the subject. It turns out there were TWO layouts used as filmmakers had to reconstruct after the um, explosions, during the train wreck scenes. The train board itself is chock full of Lionel operating accessories.

Let’s take a peek at some fascinating Lionel “hardware” as it goes through its paces.

As a Lionel Lines steamer flashes by in the background, a Minneapolis & St. Louis EMD GP7 is approaching the camera pulling a single passenger car.

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Race for a Life 1913

Keystone Film Company

This 108 year old movie was a lot of fun to research and learn about. Just 13 minutes in length, Race for a Life tells the tale of a fair maiden chained to the railroad tracks by a spurned villain and cad in the best melodramatic, indeed, over-the-top fashion.

The star of the show was AT&SF #492, a 4-6-0 oil-burning, passenger steam engine built by the Rhode Island Locomotive Works in 1900.

Filmed along the Santa Fe Railway in and around Inglewood, California, I was actually able to obtain a picture of the depot used in filming and AT&SF #492 in more contemporary times.

There’s even an early scene of what became known as the “Keystone Kops” pedaling along furiously to the rescue on a railroad handcar. C’mon, let’s take a closer look at this ancient, silent flicker.

Damsel-in-distress Mabel Normand breaks the fourth wall and stares into the camera as she remains firmly affixed to the right-of-way. Poor Mabel. Will no one save her?

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