Tag Archives: Virginia & Truckee Railroad

Love Me Tender 1956

20th Century Fox

B&W Cinemascope

Elvis! Guess what the baby said! Okay, I’m already getting off track here (pun intended), but I always think of the above Apes of Wrath 1959 cartoon when Elvis’ name comes up.

Yeah, Elvis. Here he appears in his first movie as brother Clint, of the notorious, train-robbing Reno Gang. Although he isn’t shown next to a train at any point, he aids and abets his brothers in their crime spree. Actually, Elvis was brought in as an excuse to include some of his musical numbers and be the third figure in a messy love triangle. More about that later.

Today’s movie features TWO studio-owned stream locomotives: 1. Virginia & Truckee 4-4-0 #22, “The Inyo” and; 2. Dardanelle & Russellville 4-4-0 #8. Both of these locomotives are still with us and located in Carson City, Nevada.

It’s the Confederates vs. the Damn Yankees towards the end of the Civil War. Here comes the train. Time to rob the payroll!

Presented here are two contemporary views of our feature’s two steam locomotives at the Nevada State Railroad Museum. While the Inyo is operational, the D&R #8 is stored awaiting restoration.

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The Tall Target 1951

Metro Goldwyn Mayer

It’s February 22, 1861. The American Civil War is about 7 weeks from exploding on the scene, and the 16th President of the United States has yet to be inaugurated. Gosh. I wonder who the tall target is?

Filmed mostly on MGM’s Lot #2 and at RKO’s Encino Ranch (on just 1,800 feet of railroad track), today’s movie features a wonderful 4-car passenger train pulled by the venerable Virginia & Truckee 4-4-0, #11 the “Reno”.

Many thanks to Bruce Bruemmer for recommending this flick and a hat tip to Larry Jensen’s “Hollywood’s Railroads, Volume One”, for the skinny on equipment used. It’s 78 minutes of film noir murder, suspense and intrigue, onboard a speeding express bound for our Nation’s Capitol!

It was a dark and stormy night. Wreathed in steam is the wood-burning, 1872 product of the Baldwin Locomotive Works; Coming down the aisle is our hero, Sergeant John Kennedy (played by Dick Powell). Hey, that gal with the knitting on the left…that’s none other than June Cleaver (played by Barbara Billingsley)! I wonder if she spoke jive back then…

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Once Upon A Texas Train 1988

Columbia Broadcasting System

Let’s take a ride on the Nevada Northern Railway! The star of today’s movie is NN #40, a 4-6-0, July 1910 product of Baldwin Locomotive Works in Philadelphia. Bringing up the markers, is wooden coach-combination car #06, acquired by NN second hand in 1909.

In this made-for-TV movie, #40 and combine garner about 4 1/2 minutes of screen time during the opening credits & de rigueur train robbery and shoot out. We once more see the little train as the picture wraps up…heading away from the camera this time.

Filming also features a brief cameo by Virginia & Truckee #11, “The Reno” during its residence at Old Tucson Studios. Thus, I’ll be skipping over the bulk of this 93 minute movie for some tasty steam locomotive goodness. All Aboard!

Here comes the Queen of the Rails towing her little combine with a good head of steam. As the coal-burning 4-6-0 passes, we get a view of NN combine #06.

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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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Union Pacific 1939

Paramount Pictures

Cecil B. DeMille’s “epic” (translation: well over two hours long) film about the building of the first transcontinental railroad did everything in a big way. Big stars, train wrecks, Indian attacks and a messy love triangle for starters. Union Pacific utilized FIVE different steam locomotives — so many trains, in fact, Paramount had to obtain a railroad operating license from the Interstate Commerce Commission.

Doesn’t sound very obscure, does it? But…1939 was a long time ago and black and white turns many people off, so let’s just imagine obscurity and review it anyway. It really was a fascinating railroad movie to study.

Many many thanks to Larry Jensen and his book, “Hollywood’s Railroads, Volume One” for helping me identify the locomotives and passenger/freight cars used — most of which originally came from the Virginia & Truckee Railroad in Nevada.

As is my wont, I will concentrate on scenes where trains are involved. Camera…ACTION!

The movie premiered in Omaha, Nebraska over several days in April 1939. The recreation of the May 10, 1869 golden spike ceremony at Promontory, Utah was actually filmed near Canoga Park, California partially as a media event to promote the film.

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Support Your Local Gunfighter 1971



United Artists

James Garner is riding the narrow gauge rails of the Denver & Rio Grande Western (D&RGW) Railroad in this Western spoof follow-up to 1969’s Support Your Local Sheriff!

Train scenes in this film were brief, but feature 4 different steam locomotives, one of which I’ve not been able to positively identify. A big shout out to Larry Jensen whose “Hollywood’s Railroads, Volume 3” book helped me identify one engine used on the CBS Studio City (CA) lot.

As usual, I’ll concentrate on the railroad scenes in my review, even though the movie itself is great fun to watch — back when Tinseltown knew how to make an enjoyable, entertaining picture.

Let’s take a trip on the 3-feet-between-the-rails Rio Grande railroad. Highball!!

 

D&RGW #478, a narrow gauge K-28 class 2-8-2 Alco class of 1924, leads a short train of “Grande Gold” and silver coaches along the Animas River on the Silverton Line.

Helicopter shots of this train were used at the beginning and ending of today’s reviewed movie.
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The Wild Wild West 1965

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Columbia Broadcasting System

“Heading for the Nineties, Livin’ in the Wild Wild West!”

Okay, the above has got nothing to do with today’s review, but I always liked that song. 

Jim West (played by Robert Conrad) and Artemus Gordon (played by Ross Martin) star in this post-Civil War spy caper in the American West. Their preferred method of transportation is their own private car “Wanderer 1” towed by (natch!) a steam locomotive.

Although I’m reviewing a black and white episode from the first season, I will supplement with color views of “The Night of the Vicious Valentine” from season 2.

Motive power for the train was provided by venerable Virginia & Truckee 4-4-0 #22, “The Inyo”. This is from the days when she was owned by Paramount Studios. All exterior train shots were filmed around Menifee, California.

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Compare B&W and color poses of Inyo, a baggage car and Wanderer as they pause for Jim and Artemus to leap into action!

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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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