Tag Archives: Sierra Railroad

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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High Noon 1952

Paramount Pictures

I first saw High Noon in my “Film as Literature” class at Mercer Island H.S. senior year (Hello, Blaine Dollard!). Loaded with symbolism, this flick has been analyzed to death, but fortunately I’m just interested in the railroad bits — which makes for a more enjoyable review.

Huh? You say it won 10 Academy Awards and is not obscure? Bah! The REAL star of this high-falutin’ oater is Sierra Railroad #3 pulling its coaches past the Hadleyville depot. The rest of that final showdown jazz is mere window dressing.

Well then, let’s enjoy a railfan’s delight as the little 1891 Rogers-built, 4-6-0 trundles into town. Do not forsake me, oh my darling!

Belching an ominous plume of black smoke, Sierra #3 slowly approaches the water tower. This scene, and the one above of the depot, was filmed at Warnerville, California.

The studio constructed the two-story Hadleyville station just for this movie (Hat tip to Larry Jensen’s The Movie Railroads book).

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My Little Chickadee 1940

Universal Pictures

Sierra Railroad 2-8-0 #18 along with combine #5 and coaches #1 & #2, stars in today’s feature. The little Baldwin Consolidation, built for Sierra Railroad in 1906, received just 13 minutes of screen time, but what a cameo. A spectacular Indian attack highlights its trip from Little Bend to Greasewood through the untamed West.

Onboard, Flower Belle Lee (played by Mae West) and Cuthbert J. Twillie (played by W.C. Fields) ham it up in this spoof of western movies giving us a good look at the spartan but classic interior of the coaches (studio set).

It’s a wild ride under western skies for Sierra #18. Let’s check it out.

A. P. & S. Railway #8 (Sierra #18 in disguise) is pedaling furiously as it tries to outrun the Cleveland Indians. As it pulls out of Little Bend, we get a closeup of the tender and cab in this rods-down pose.

Does that short combine #5 look familiar? It is, if you’re a fan of Petticoat Junction. Combine #5 along with Sierra #3 was the entire consist of the “Hooterville Cannonball”.

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The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance 1962

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Paramount Pictures

This film, a classic though it is, was a bit of a disappointment in the train department as we only get brief scenes at the beginning and end of the picture. Our star is the former Virginia & Truckee 4-4-0 #22 “Inyo”, an 1875 product of Baldwin Locomotive Works — at the time owned by Paramount Studios themselves.

The story is told mainly in flashback with the railroad representing progress and civilization brought to a small, lawless Western town. In addition to studio scenes of the Inyo, there is what appear to be stock footage of a train on the Sierra Railroad.

Let’s take a closer look at the three, distinct scenes in “Liberty Valance” of a steam engine-powered passenger train.

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As the movie comes to an end, we see a mixed train (steam locomotive, flat car, two dark-colored coaches, one light-colored coach and caboose) rounding a curve away from the camera.

This is most likely a scene along the Sierra Railroad with possibly the #3 locomotive on the point.

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Rage at Dawn 1955

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R.K.O. Radio Pictures

Randolph Scott stars as James Barlow, a special agent sent west to infiltrate and break up the Reno brothers gang. To that end, Scott/Barlow stages a fake train robbery to get the Reno’s attention. Once taken in the gang, Barlow stages another train robbery…but it’s all a set up, to capture the Reno’s with a spectacular trackside shoot-’em-up.

Sierra Railroad 4-6-0 #3 (built in 1891 by Rogers Locomotive Works) is the real star of this picture along with its 3 car consist. Engine and coaches are decorated for the fictitious “Ohio & Mississippi Railroad”. As a plus, both train “robberies” are filmed in wonderful low-light on the sunny side of the consist.

Come enjoy Sierra’s 10-wheeler going through its paces as Randolph Scott once again brings law and order to tame the Wild West.

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“Come ride the little train that is rolling down the tracks to the Junction…” Oops, sorry. Rage at Dawn was filmed 8 years before Petticoat Junction appeared on the scene.

Having said that, Sierra #3 and shorty coach/combine #5 in this image did indeed serve as the Hooterville Cannonball for 1960s television’s most famous train.

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